Twisted Cardamom Buns
The recipe I've been chasing for years!
Sometime over the years, I fell in love with the idea of cardamom buns. I’d never had one, but it was likely around the time that fika hit mainstream North American media. Cardamom is one of my favorite flavors, and I was so curious about these twisty, knotted buns.
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Fika is the practice of taking a regular coffee break in Sweden. It is customary to punctuate the day with coffee, sweet treats, and socialization among friends or co-workers. One of the more popular menu items is the Swedish kanelbullar - or cinnamon roll. Similarly, these kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) are made with a sweet dough and a buttery cardamom-heavy filling.
Enter Juno the bakery. Former Noma chef, Emil Glaser, opened Juno in Copenhagen in late 2017. Dubbed a cardamom bun utopia, he brought with him the pastry of his youth in Sweden. While I have never been, I am fascinated by these buttery, fragrant buns - frequently scrolling their Instagram, trying to catch the intricate twisting in action.
It’s been almost 20 years since I spent a couple days in Denmark, and unfortunately don’t have any plans to return soon. So here I am, in my home kitchen, on a quest to make my own. I started playing with a recipe in my old apartment. 2 ½ years into our new home, and I am finally proud to share my version today.
I visited Juno in 2019 and have been partially to credit/blame for this recipe development. No one can match the signature item of any bakery at this level but this will definitely hold you over until your next visit. If you can time it right and get a warm bun, it really is sensational.
For me, it’s hard to describe cardamom buns as something close to a cinnamon roll. They are similar in the fact that they are both spice-filled sweet buns, but are more like distant cousins than sisters.
For this recipe, I prefer a less squishy, bready bun. Instead, these twisted cardamom buns have crisp edges and a soft interior. The more folds and twists, the more pull-apart pieces.
The filling inevitably leaks out in places. But that’s okay! It moistens the centers and caramelizes around the edges (the lacey bits that crisp on the baking pan are so good).
Instead of an egg wash, I brush the baked buns with simple syrup to give them a glossy finish.
If you can find them, grinding your own cardamom from green pods will give you the most potent flavor. Ground cardamom or cardamom powder is perfectly fine for the dough and filling. But using fresh as a sprinkle on top will give you an extra, fragrant punch of flavor.
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