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These spiced and slightly sweet yeast rolls are crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside.
Way back in 2014, when I started this blog, yeast bread was still pretty daunting to me. I had only really made yeast bread a couple of times (in the form of my grandmother’s Italian anise bread), but was wanting to get my feet wetter with yeast.
In November 2014, I originally published these cardamom rolls, a recipe that comes from my mother (hi, Marm!), and is one of my very favorites.
This bread totally reminds me of my childhood, because she made these Swedish cardamom rolls for truly every holiday. I really can’t recall a holiday without them.
We’ve talked about cardamom before in my chai cake, my chai spiced granola, my chai spiced oatmeal cookies, and we’ll surely talk about it again (here are all of my recipes with cardamom). In fact, my friend Samantha from Little Ferraro Kitchen has a cardamom apple cake I’m dyingggg to try!
It’s one of my very favorite spices: spicy like cinnamon but with a whole different flavor profile.
The two go very nicely together, and the original recipe from my mother doesn’t use both.
The combination was an executive decision back in the day, and as I tasted the first bite of a roll fresh from the oven for the very first time, I gave myself a nice pat on the back.
Actually, I asked Matt to pat me on the back, because my hands were full of soft, cardamom-y bread and I totally had cardamom-cinnamon-sugar all over my fingers.
Just like any yeast bread, this is a recipe that takes some time. So if you want these rolls done on the same day, you’ll need to set aside some time to prepare them and plan ahead (see instructions in the recipe for making ahead).
Though you can throw the ingredients together, the dough itself will need two rises for a total inactive rising time of 3 hours.
WHAT IS RISING?
Yeast is a living fungus that is inactive until it comes in contact with warm water. When yeast is combined with sugar in a bread dough, it begins to feed off of the sugar, releasing carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise.
As the dough rises, the gluten in the flour develops and helps to create the stretchy texture of the inside of bread.
After the first rise, you will punch down your dough and allow a shorter, second rise.
Releasing the gas encourages the yeast to get to work again and develop the gluten further, refining and softening it. Once the dough bakes, the yeast dies, the gluten hardens, and we are left with beautiful, soft bread.
All that being said, this is how a yeast bread is different from a quick bread that uses baking soda and/or baking powder to make it rise at a more rapid rate. The crumb is dense and more cake-like (because there isn’t a lot of gas or time to allow much gluten to develop).
Kneading is the other thing that can be a little bit intimidating when it comes to making a yeast bread, but this step is also not hard.
Plus, if you’d rather not knead your bread by hand, you can always use the dough hook on your stand mixer.
Personally, I like to use my dough hook just to get everything going, but for the most part, I will knead by hand. The more you knead by hand, the more you know what to feel and look for as your dough goes through its pre-baking stages.
Also… It makes me feel olden time-y and like I’m doing my grandparents proud and not being completely dependent on my electric mixer.
No worries, I go into thorough detail about all of this in the recipe below.
After all the rising, the most involved part of these cardamom rolls is the shaping process, but I promise, it’s simple.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (I like to use a kitchen scale for this part), then take each portion and flatten it into a disc about 2-3″ in diameter.
Once flattened, tuck the sides in and pinch them together. You’ll form a little bread pouch, which you’ll place on a baking sheet, seam side down.
Once the rolls are on the baking sheet and ready to go, they get brushed with an egg wash that gives them that signature shiny and slightly crispy top of a really great bakery roll.
After the egg wash, the rolls are topped off with a generous sprinkling of cardamom-cinnamon-sugar that was also an afterthought for my recipe. It is out of this world good, but you may also omit it, if you’d prefer.
That spiced topping gets nice and crunchy as the rolls bake in the oven, and it adds just the right amount of sweetness to every soft and doughy bite of bread.
But again, if you’d rather leave it off, just a plain ol’ egg wash works perfectly.
Now, let’s talk about how good these rolls are, because there is absolutely a reason these rolls have been a staple at nearly all of our holidays in the last 6 years.
These cardamom buns are so so so(oooo) good. I know, cardamom isn’t something you probably keep in your pantry, so if you really don’t want to go out of your way to purchase some, simply leave it out (although please know I will be crying inside for you because you’ll be missing out on such a wonderfully flavored treat!).
These rolls are best enjoyed hot from the oven, but they are pretty darn close to just as good warmed up in the microwave for 10 seconds if they’ve come to room temperature.
I love to spread butter on my rolls, and although they are quite tasty without any butter, they are divineeee slathered in that good stuff.
I’ve even been known to add a little cinnamon and honey to my butter just to challenge my will power even more and try to stop at one roll. Seriously, be careful… These rolls are dangerously delicious.
These cardamom rolls make a wonderful addition to a savory meal and can even be enjoyed as a dessert. The dough is forgiving and if you’re not familiar with how to approach a yeast bread, this is a great recipe to start with.
Just be forewarned… I’m telling you it’s going to be hard to stop nibbling on these wonderfully spiced pillows, and you might just become a pro at yeast breads with how often you’ll want to make these.
We can just call it really great practice, ok?
Go ahead, challenge yourself in your kitchen and then challenge your tastebuds to refuse these super soft, perfectly sweet and ever so lightly spiced rolls. I bet one will be easier than the other…
- ¼ cup (60mL) warm water
- 2 and ¼ teaspoons (7g) dry active yeast 1 packet
- ½ cup (120mL) milk any
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter melted and allowed to cool
- 2 large eggs divided, each lightly beaten
- 2 and ½ to 3 cups (300-360g) all-purpose flour bread flour is also fine; be sure to measure properly
CARDAMOM-CINNAMON SUGAR COATING
- ¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
PREPARE THE DOUGH
- Add the warm water to a small bowl. To obtain the right temperature of water, run your wrist in the stream of tap water, adjusting the temperature until you can no longer feel the temperature of the water on your wrist (you will feel it if it is too hot or too cold). Sprinkle the yeast in top, then stir with a fork until dissolved. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until bubbly and active.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the milk, granulated sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt. Add the cooled butter, one egg, and yeast mixture, whisking again until completely combined.
- Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, add in flour, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, it is ready to shape.
- Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. If using a dough hook, this will not take the entire 10 minutes. Dough is done when it feels tacky but not sticky and resembles PlayDoh.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning the dough to coat the top. Cover loosely with a towel, and set in a warm spot to double in size, approximately 1 and ½ to 2 hours.
- Once dough has risen, punch down, knead lightly in the bowl, and allow to rise a second time, approximately 1 hour.
- Once dough has risen a second time, turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and let rest at least 15 minutes.
SHAPE & BAKE THE DOUGH
- As dough has its final rest, preheat oven to 350ºF (171ºC). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, flatten each portion with your fingers into a disc about 2-3" in diameter, then tuck the edges under and pinch together to form a pouch. Place dough balls seam side down on baking sheet in 4 rows of 3.
- In a small prep bowl, make the cardamom-cinnamon sugar coating (if using) by combining the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Toss together with a fork or your fingers. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg with ½ a Tablespoon of water. Using a pastry brush, generously egg wash each roll, then sprinkle each roll with the cardamom-cinnamon sugar, if using.
- Bake the rolls for 16-18 minutes until browned to your liking. Rolls will sound hollow when lightly tapped on the underside. Rolls are best fresh from the oven but can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 5 days. Reheat in microwave for 10 seconds. Baked rolls freeze well (up to 2 months). Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.