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Graham Saga

Cardamom buns (Kardemumma bullar)

“Luxury,” Alex says, sighing happily at the sight of white sugar. “I make do with honey.”

“I know,” said Anna.

That’s why Alex’s cardamom buns never quite taste like Anna’s, but seeing as she’s somewhat sensitive when it comes to such comparisons, she doesn’t say anything.

In Sweden, we bake both cardamom and cinnamon buns. Anna’s family is a cardamom bun family.


The secret to making good buns is to add just the right amount of flour, and sadly this is difficult to be precise about, as all dough takes on a life of its own. A rule of thumb is that you add enough flour for the dough to no longer cling to the bowl but not so much as to make it totally unsticky.


Today, the buns are made with yeast dough.  Alex would have used ale bram. We can just drop by the store and buy the yeast.


Yields 24 buns


For the dough:

2 packages (50 gr) active dry yeast

2 ¼ cups (0.5 litres) milk

½ cup (100 grams) butter

½  cup (.1 litre) granulated sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

2-3 tablespoons of crushed or ground cardamom pods

5 ¼ -5 ¾ cups (1.2 – 1.4 litres) wheat flour

For the filling:

3/4 cup (100 grams) melted butter


3-4 tablespoons crushed cardamom pods


Egg Wash

1 egg, beaten until smooth

1. Melt the butter, add the milk and stir. Heat to 37 degrees, warm to the touch.

2. Put ½ of the buttermilk mixture into a bowl.  Sprinkle yeast on top.

3. Add rest of buttermilk mixture to another bowl. Add salt, sugar and cardamom. Mix together.

4. Mix in half the flour. Add the rest of the flour bit by bit, working the dough as you go. Alex of course mixes by hand, as you may.  You may also use a dough hook on a mixer or food processor.

5. Once the dough has reached the “no longer clings to the bowl, can be worked, but is still a tad sticky” phase, dust some flour over it, cover and leave rise for 45 minutes.

6. Knead the dough and then divide into three equal parts.  Roll out each third with a rolling pin to form a rectangle of 12” x 9” (30 cm by 24 cm). 

7. Brush rectangle with butter (cover all of it) and sprinkle sugar and crushed cardamom over the butter.

8. Fold the upper third of the rectangle towards the center. Fold the lower third of the rectangle towards the center.  You now have a narrower rectangle consisting of three layers of dough.

9. Cut the rectangle into 8 – 10 strips.

10. Take each strip, stretch slightly, twist, and “tie” into a knot. Put the knot on a baking sheet/tin.

11. Cover the little knots with a towel. Leave to rise 20 minutes.

12. Brush the buns with egg wash. Bake at 425 F (225 C) for 5-6 minutes.

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