Do like the Swedish do and share these buns and a coffee with a friend! Having a coffee break with friends or family is a social institution in Sweden, known as fika, and pastries (in particular cinnamon and cardamom buns) are so much a part of it that they are often referred to as fikabröd, meaning fika-bread.
Makes: 18 large buns
50g fresh live yeast or 14g dried active yeast
180g caster sugar or brown sugar
325g soft butter
3 tablespoons freshly ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
840g plain flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)
pearl sugar, chopped almonds or granulated sugar for decorating
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Before mixing the ingredients you will need to proof the fresh yeast. Heat the 500ml milk in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is approximately 37 degrees C. The temperature is important, if the milk is too hot, the yeast will burn. If the milk is too cool, the yeast will not activate. When the milk is approximately 37 degrees C, sprinkle 50g fresh yeast and add 90g of the caster sugar. Stir well until dissolved, then set aside for 5 minutes.
While waiting for the yeast to activate, mix 150g soft butter, 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth in a large bowl. After the yeast has activated, add the milk solution to the butter mixture.
Gradually add the flour, then knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with a cloth.
Place in the warmed oven. This is not to start the baking, but to help the dough rise. Leave to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes, until doubled in size. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, mix the remainder of the butter and sugar, then add 1 1/2 tablespoons cardamom, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and the vanilla extract for the filling. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
When the dough is ready, roll it out into a large rectangle, about 40x50cm. Spread the filling on top.
Fold the dough in half (you should have half of it layered on top of the other half).
Cut out long strips of dough (about 1 to 2 cm wide).
Properly spinning a cardamom bun into a knotty shape is an art. To begin with, you can just twist each strip and then roll it.
Arrange the buns on the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Brush the buns with a lightly beaten egg (the more egg you use, the browner the buns will be after baking). However, this is not an essential step, skipping it will make your buns egg-free.
Sprinkle the buns generously with pearl sugar, granulated sugar or chopped almonds and the remaining cardamom and cinnamon.
Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 11 minutes, depending on the size of the buns, until risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven. The buns are at their best when they are warm.