*Adapted from a recipe in Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann
My favorite thing from my trip to Sweden last year was the incredible tradition of Fika. Fika is like a coffee break but is focused on slowing down rather than speeding up. It’s about taking a moment to enjoy the company of a friend, a cup of coffee, and (most importantly) a sweet treat. My favorite pastry was the kardemummabullar (in English, cardamom bun). Unlike a traditional cinnamon roll, which is rolled and sliced and looks like a snail’s shell, the cardamom buns are cut in strips and wrapped into something resembling a ball of yarn. This formation disperses the cardamom filling generously throughout the bun.
My aim in creating this cardamom bread was to make something like the cardamom bun, but in a loaf, so it could be easily served in slices. It also seemed easier than forming all those yarn balls.
This recipe can be made as a cinnamon bread instead of cardamom: just sub out the cardamom for cinnamon in the dough, filling, and topping, swap the granulated sugar for light brown sugar in the filling, and omit the orange zest.
2 1/4 tsp. Active dry yeast (should be one packet, but measure it just in case)
1 c. Milk, warmed (about 110 degrees)
425 g. All-purpose flour (3 1/2 cups)
50 g. Sugar (1/4 cup)
1 tsp. Cardamom
1/4 tsp. Salt
75 g. Softened butter, cut into pieces
100 g. Butter, softened (7 tbl.)
75 g. Sugar (1/3 c.)
2 tsp. Cardamom
1 tbl. Orange zest
2 tbl sugar
1 tsp. Cardamom
Add the warmed milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the yeast and whisk just to break up the yeast a little. Let the mixture stand for about five minutes until the yeast starts to activate (it will look a little foamy). Add the egg and whisk to incorporate. Switch the whisk attachment for the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt and mix on medium until the dough starts to form. Add the butter a few pieces at a time and turn the mixer up to high. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 8 minutes. The dough will be smooth and all pull away from the sides of the bowl. Scrape the dough off the hook, cover the bowl, and let it sit at room temperature for two hours to rise.
Make the filling by mixing butter, sugar, cardamom, and zest in a bowl until the mixture is the consistency of cake frosting. It should be soft and easily spreadable. Leave it at room temperature.
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 9 x 16. Spread the filling on the dough in an even layer. Fold it in fourths — think of folding a letter, but with one more fold. It should be about the size of the loaf pan. The dough is really soft and stretchy, so work quickly to avoid stretching it out too much. Cut the folded dough into thirds length-wise. Braid the strips, tuck the ends under, and plop it into a pan.
Sprinkle the dough with with the cardamom-sugar mix. Bake at 350° F for 45-55 minutes. Test with an instant-read thermometer; the internal temperature should be around 200° F. Let it cool before turning it out of the pan.
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