Recipe: Cardamom, Date and Tahini Buns

Author & Photographer: Jane Fraipont

Much more exciting to unravel than standard cinnamon rolls, these buns have a complex appearance but are easy to make. They are a uniquely flavored riff on the classic Swedish cardamom buns; the added tahini softens the floral spice of the cardamom, and the dates give a natural sweetness and caramelize nicely when baked. The buns are best when warm and accompanied with coffee or strong tea.

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Estimated Time: 3.5 hours, including rising and baking

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 cup plus one tbsp milk, warm but not hot to the touch

  • 2 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast (1 envelope)

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3 1/4 cup bread flour

  • 1 tsp group cardamom

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 5 tbsp room temperature butter

  • Butter or oil to grease the bowl

  • Flour for surfaces

Filling

  • 6 medium sized dates (about 80g), soaked in boiling water to soften and drained

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 4 tbsp butter, melted

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 12 medium dates (about 160g), chopped

Glaze and topping

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • Sanding sugar or clear sprinkles

Instructions:

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm milk and whisk to combine. Let stand until small bubbles or foam appear on the surface, indicating that the yeast is alive, about 5 minutes.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cardamom, and salt.

3. Once the milk mixture has foamed, add in half of the flour mixture and stir until the wet and dry ingredients have combined and no dry spots remain.

4. Add the remaining flour mixture to the dough. Using a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook or your hands (a hand mixer will not work, the dough is too strong and stiff), work in the remaining flour.If using a stand mixer, let it run on its lowest setting for about five minutes, until the dough has come together into a homogeneous mass. If mixing by hand, knead the dough in the bowl until most of the flour is incorporated and the dough holds together in a shaggy ball. At this point, tip it out onto a clean, floured surface and knead until no dry spots remain and it appears smooth and elastic.

5. Add the butter to the dough in 1 tbsp additions, mixing on the lowest setting or kneading by hand until incorporated. The dough may slap around in the bowl or smash out on the kneading surface, but if you continue to work it the butter will incorporate.

6. After the butter is added, continue to mix or knead for approximately five minutes. The dough has been worked enough when its surface is taut and appears smooth. If pinched and tugged on, the dough should be elastic and hold together, stretching instead of tearing.

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7. Shape the dough into a uniform ball and transfer it to a large, oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it evenly with oil. This prevents the surface from drying oil and impeding its expansion as it rises.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place (like the inside of an oven, with its light on) for about one hour, or until it has doubled in size.

8. While the dough rises, prepare the filling. In a blender (or food processor), blend the soaked dates, melted butter, vanilla, tahini, sugar, cardamom and salt, and blend until smooth and homogenous. The mixture should be creamy and rather light, the consistency of frosting or softened butter.

9. To make the glaze, combine the water, sugar, cardamom, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, the consistency of maple syrup.

10. Once the dough has risen, dust the top with flour and tip it onto a heavily floured surface. Press the dough into a rectangle, and roll it into a 14” x 21” rectangle.

11. Spoon the filling onto the dough, and spread it into a thin, even layer across the surface of the dough with an offset spatula or spoon. Make sure that the long edges of the dough are covered, or also the two buns cut from those ends will be dry.

12. Sprinkle the chopped date pieces evenly over the dough.

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13. On the long edge of the dough, mark the points (7” apart) that would divide the rectangle into equal thirds (Don’t cut the dough! this is where you’ll fold it).

14. Fold one of the outer thirds over to cover the inner third, leaving the other outer third exposed. Fold the remaining third over. You should now have a folded 7” by 13” rectangle. Cut the dough crosswise into 20 even strips.

15. To fold the buns, pinch each end of one of the strips of dough and gently shake to stretch it to about 12” in length. With your dominant hand, pinch and hold one end of the dough steady while manipulating the other end with your other hand. Wrap the dough loosely around your thumb and three fingers twice or three times, until there is about 5 inches of loose dough remaining. Fold this last section of dough crosswise over the top of the looped dough and tuck the edge under the bottom, into the hollow formed by your thumb and fingers.

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16. Place the formed buns 2” apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and let rise again for about 45 minutes, until they have visibly puffed up and are soft and airy when gently prodded.

17. Preheat the oven to 425º F.

18. Once fully risen, bake the buns for 12-15 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown. The amount of time required varies by oven, so keep an eye on the buns and rotate the baking sheet to ensure even browning.

19. When the buns have baked, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and immediately brush on a layer of the glaze. This must be done while the buns are hot so as to ensure even coverage by the glaze.

20. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the tops of the buns to decorate.

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Notes:

  • The buns will last three days in an airtight container at room temperature, and can also be frozen and reheated in an oven. If freezing the buns, do not glaze them when they are removed from the oven - do so after reheating them.

  • I’ve made these buns with pre-ground cardamom as well as with whole pods which I ground myself. If using whole pods, remove the black seeds from the inside of the outer shell and grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then measure the amounts needed. Fresh-ground cardamom is stronger and brighter, but both types of spice work.

  • These buns can be made vegan by substituting the butter with melted coconut oil and substituting the milk with a sweetened milk alternative.

Recipe adapted from:

https://www.fixfeastflair.com/home/2015/2/9/swedish-cardamom-rolls-kardemummabullar-recipe