I first tasted a cardamom bun at a new coffee shop near my mom’s house called Fika, which in Sweden is a huge tradition. Check out this article which defines it really well! It means to pause in the middle of the day for a break, a mental rest and take coffee and a pastry, cake, etc. with friends, or colleagues.
These cardamom buns are extremely popular for the fika, and I learned that cardamom is a flavor that is commonly used in baking in Sweden, while it isn’t so much in the US. These sourdough cardamom buns are soft and flavorful, and filled with delicious fragrant cardamom sugar filling, plus that sourdough tang that we love. They’re topped with a vanilla simple syrup glaze and would be perfect for any coffee break.
How to make sourdough swedish cardamom buns
Make your dough – About 12 hours before you plan on assembling your buns, you will want to prep the dough. Since this recipe is using wild yeast/fermentation to rise the dough, we need to give it ample time to do its work!
When I’m making any type of dough I usually mix up the dry ingredients first, so I mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then I will whisk together the milk, honey, sourdough starter, and egg in a smaller separate bowl. Then melt the butter and add this to the wet ingredients. Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry, and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to bring everything together into a wet, sticky dough. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.
Knead the dough – Unfortunately this is not one of those “no-knead” easy breakfast bun recipes. However, it’s worth the work! I always knead my dough by hand, and this is half out of laziness… I don’t feel like cleaning more dishes, so I don’t want to bust out the kitchen aid. The other half is because I like to feel the dough. I can tell when the gluten is really starting to develop if I have my hands in it. Plus, kneading dough can be totally therapeutic!
Flour your surface, and hand knead the cardamom bun dough for about 6-8 minutes, sprinkling with more flour whenever it gets too sticky. It’s a pretty sticky and wet dough initially, so I end up adding a pretty good amount of flour while I am kneading it. Alternatively, you can throw it into a mixer with the dough hook attachment for 6-8 minutes.
When finished kneading, you should be able to form it into a cohesive ball. Then return it to the bowl for the bulk rise.
Bulk rise – Cover the dough and allow it to rise for about 8-12 hours, depending on how warm your house is. You can use a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. The dough should puff up and increase in size. It won’t double but it will get bigger.
Make the filling – In the morning mix up the filling and get ready to make the buns. Combine butter with plenty of fragrant cardamom, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
Prep the pan and roll the dough – Prep a 9×13 pan by coating it with butter. You could also use parchment paper to prevent the rolls from sticking. You can use a round pie pan or a springform pan, but I like that the rolls have more room in the 9×13. Sprinkle a good amount of flour on the countertop and turn the dough out. Sprinkle some more flour onto the top of the dough, and roll it out into a large rectangle. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the filling over the entire rectangle of dough and then you can get creative. You can make traditionally shaped buns and just roll the dough up, then use a serrated knife to cut the log into 6-8 buns. Or you can do what I did, and make it much more difficult for yourself and attempt to make braided buns….
These were nowhere near perfect, but they still looked beautiful once they baked up!
Second proof – Cover the cardamom buns and let them rest for another 1-2 hours. They should increase in size again.
Bake the buns – After the cardamom buns have puffed up again, bake them at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. They should be golden brown on the top. While they are baking you can make the vanilla glaze.
Make the glaze and serve – These cardamom buns are brushed with a delicious vanilla simple syrup after they come out of the oven. It makes them shiny and adds a delicious flavor to the outside without overpowering the cardamom.
Scroll down to find the recipe, and let me know in the comments if you made and enjoyed them!
Recipe for sourdough swedish cardamom buns
For the dough…
360g unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
160g whole milk
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
100g active sourdough starter
butter for coating the pan
For the filling…
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened not melted
1.5 tbsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the glaze…
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the dough: 12 hours before you plan to shape the rolls (either in the evening before bed, or in the morning if you plan to bake in the evening), make the dough. Whisk together the flour and salt, set aside. Melt the butter, and set aside to cool slightly. In a smaller bowl, whisk the milk, egg, sourdough starter, and honey. Add this into the dry ingredients along with the cooled butter, and fold it together to make a wet sticky dough. Cover this and let it sit for 30 minutes. The fancy word for this is autolyse. Basically it allows the gluten chains to start forming before you even start kneading it, making it easier.
Knead the dough: Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead by hand for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle a good amount of flour onto the dough when it becomes too sticky to continue. After this amount of time, you should be able to form it into a cohesive ball. Place the ball back into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a very damp kitchen towel. You don’t want the top of the dough to dry out.
Bulk rise: Leave the dough at room temperature to rise for 8-12 hours.
Make the filling: Soften your stick of butter and whisk the sugar, brown sugar and cardamom into it. Set aside.
Prep the pan: Prep a 9×13 baking dish by coating it with butter.
Roll and shape the dough: Flour your surface and the top of the dough ball after turning it out. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread on the filling, leaving a small margin around the edge to be able to seal it together. Fold the dough over itself by half, and seal the edges together. Use the rolling pin to flatten it once more, then use a pizza cutter or pastry cutter to slice it into six equal pieces. Slice each one almost all the way through into three sections for braiding. Braid the bottom of the dough piece and then roll it over itself. Place each one into the 9×13 pan.
Second rise: Cover the cardamom buns again and let them rest for 1-2 more hours until they puff up again.
Preheat oven and bake: Bake the cardamom buns at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until they are golden brown on top.
Make the glaze: While they are baking, make the vanilla glaze. Combine the granulated sugar, water, and vanilla extra. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then remove it from the heat.
Glaze and serve the cardamom buns: Once the buns come out of the oven and are still warm, brush the glaze over each one. Serve with a cup of coffee, as breakfast, dessert, or mid afternoon snack!