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Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns

These vegan Scandinavian cinnamon buns are accented with freshly toasted cardamom and are magical when paired with a cup of coffee. The twisting braided shape looks intricate, but they’re a piece of cake to make.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Rising Time2 hrs
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: Bread, Pastry
Servings: 16 buns
Author: Thomas

Equipment

  • 1 coffee grinder or spice mill or mortar & pestle
  • 1 small saucepan
  • 1 probe thermometer
  • 1 stand mixer
  • 1 flat working surface
  • 1 baking sheet

Ingredients

  • 40 whole green cardamom pods (see note)
  • 1 cup plant milk unsweetened and unflavored
  • 50 grams sugar white granulated, about ¼ cup 50 grams
  • 55 grams vegan butter unsalted, about ¼ cup (see note)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt see note
  • 405 grams all-purpose flour about 2 ¾ cups

Filling Paste

  • 115 grams vegan butter unsalted, about ½ cup
  • 100 grams light brown sugar about ½ cup packed
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegan “Egg Wash”

  • ¼ cup aquafaba
  • ¼ cup plant milk unsweetened and unflavored

Topping

  • Swedish pearl sugar or other coarse sugar

Instructions

Break, Toast, and Grind the Cardamom

  • Break apart the cardamom pods by pressing a couple at a time with a sturdy glass on a cutting board. Remove and discard the green outer layer and separate the interior seeds from each other.
  • Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat and add the cardamom seeds. Once the pan is hot, toast the seeds until very fragrant, 6-10 minutes. If you see smoke, remove the pan immediately, lower the heat, and resume.
  • Once done, transfer the cardamom seeds to a small bowl to cool for a couple of minutes. Then use a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle to grind as finely as possible. You should have about 1 Tablespoon of ground, extremely fragrant cardamom. Separate the ground cardamom into a batch of ⅔ and ⅓ (2 teaspoons and 1 teaspoon, respectively).

Activate the Yeast

  • Heat the plant milk in a small saucepan over low heat until it reaches 110F (43C). Remove from heat, pour the white granulated sugar and yeast into the milk and stir to dissolve.
  • Let the yeast activate for 5-10 minutes until frothy.
  • Meanwhile, gently melt the first 55 grams (¼ cup) of vegan butter in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, until barely liquid.

Make the Dough

  • Combine ⅔ of the ground cardamom and the salt and flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk by hand for a minute until the dry ingredients are well integrated. Then add the melted vegan butter and activated yeast mixture.
  • Mix on low speed for 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and consistent (see note if mixing by hand).
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel to prevent drying out. Place the bowl in a slightly warm place and allow to rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Mix the Filling

  • While the dough is rising, combine the ingredients for the filling paste and the remainder of the ground cardamom in a cereal- or soup-sized bowl. Mash and mix well with a fork until it reaches an even consistency.

Roll the Dough and Form the Buns

  • Once the dough has doubled, transfer it to a large floured working surface and use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle, about 15x20 inches (38x50 cm). It’s OK if the edges and corners aren’t perfectly straight/square.
  • Spread the filling onto the dough rectangle in an even layer using a spoon. Be gentle with the dough so that you don’t tear it. If the filling is difficult to spread, put it in a warm place and or mash with a fork to soften it.
  • Grab one short side of the dough and fold it inward ⅓ of the way, then fold the other short side over the folded side, so that the dough is 3 layers thick, as shown in the photo above.
  • Gently roll the dough again to press out any bubbles, but try not to squeeze any filling out.
  • Use a knife to slice a 1.5 inch (4 cm) strip of dough, perpendicular to the fold.
  • Use your fingers to gently pinch and squeeze the strip to compress the layers and pull the strip so that it becomes longer, 22-24 inches (55-60 cm) long. Be careful not to tear the dough as you do this. If you do feel that the dough is going to tear, just go to the next step.
  • Twist the dough strip several times, then wrap the dough around itself as shown in the photos.
  • Place the completed bun on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat the process with the rest of the dough. Leave at least 2 inches (5 cm) between the buns on the baking sheet.

Second Rest

  • Cover the buns with plastic wrap and put them in a slightly warm place to rise until they double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the vegan “egg” wash and mix well. Preheat the oven to 375F (191C) and place the rack in the middle position.

Wash, Sprinkle, and Bake

  • Once the buns have completed the second rise, use a basting brush to bush the “egg” wash onto the buns. Cover the buns’ surface but try not to soak them with the wash. Do your best with the nooks and crannies.
  • Sprinkle the pearl sugar onto the buns very generously.
  • Bake the buns until cooked and slightly golden brown on top, up to 18 minutes (see note).
  • If you’re not sure, you can use a probe thermometer to check that the buns are 190F (88C) on the inside - that’s the minimum temp you want.

Allow to Cool (if you can wait) and Enjoy

  • It helps to let the buns rest and cool for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack, so they solidify a bit and are easier to handle. But you can totally dig into one fresh out of the oven if you want. Be careful!

Store and Reheat

  • You can store the buns in an airtight container or zipper bag at room temperature for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.
  • To reheat, heat them in the oven 400F (204C) to get them a little crispy around the edges. Use 300F (149C) to keep them on the softer side. Up to 10 minutes for thawed buns and up to 15 minutes for frozen ones. In either case, but watch them closely.

Notes

The recipe as written makes between 12 and 16 buns, depending on how large you make the buns.
You need 1 Tablespoon of whole fresh cardamom and I used about 40 pods to get this.
You can use 1 Tablespoon of ground cardamom instead, though the aroma won’t be as rich.
If using salted vegan butter, reduce the salt to ⅓ teaspoon
If mixing by hand, after combining all the ingredients and mixing to integrate a bit, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.
It is OK if you remove the buns before they are golden brown if you like the texture a bit softer, after 14-15 minutes. This is also good if you intend to save and reheat the buns.