When it comes to the countries with the world’s best bakers, Italy and France generally come to my mind first. America certainly now also makes my short list. But up until recently, I ashamed to admit, I wouldn’t have thought to mention Denmark, Sweden, Norway or the rest of Scandinavia.
While the region is famous for its cured fish, aquavit and sensible cars, it also has a long tradition of making delicious baked goods. And some of my favorite Nordic confections, are buns or rolled breads that call for a sweet layer of ground cardamom and sugar.
For special occasions and for the holidays, I often make my best friend’s family’s recipe for such a treat, which never fails to impress my guests. Acclaimed cookbook author and journalist Trine Hahnemann also includes a version of Cardamom Buns in her new book, Copenhagen Food, which comes out in a few days. Her recipe is fairly simple and can be made in a single morning, which means you can serve the buns hot.
“Cinnamon rolls always used to be the big thing in Copenhagen, but these days it is all about cardamom snurre [twirl],” she writes in the book. “These are perfect either for breakfast or afternoon tea.” Once you try one, you’ll understand why the city is crazy for them.
For the Buns
- 2 oz Fresh yeast
- 2 cups Lukewarm whole milk
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
- 6 cups ‘00’ Flour, plus more to dust
- 1/2 cup Caster [granulated] sugar
- 2 tsp Ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp Fine sea salt
- 2/3 cup Softened salted butter
For the Filling
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Softened salted butter
- 3/4 cup Caster [granulated] sugar
- 4 tsp Ground cinnamon
- For the buns, crumble the yeast into the milk and stir to dissolve, then add the egg. Now mix in the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt. Mix the butter into the dough, then knead well on a floured surface. Put the dough into a bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1–2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Make the filling by mixing together the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece out on a floured surface to make a rectangle measuring about 40 x 30cm [16 x 12in]. Spread half the cinnamon filling over each. Roll each piece of dough into a wide cylinder, starting from a long side to get a long, slim log, then cut into 2.5cm [1in] slices.
- Line some baking sheets with baking parchment. Place the cinnamon rolls on the parchment, pressing down on each so that they spread slightly. Cover with tea towels and leave to rise again, in a warm place, for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Bake the cinnamon buns for 25–30 minutes until well browned. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Copenhagen Food by Trine Hahnemann, published by Quadrille October 2018, RRP $35.00 hardcover.