Everybody knows cinnamon buns but Sweden has a long tradition of spicing things up with cardamom. These vega buns are nice and buttery, golden and spicy and hail from one of my latest cookbook acquisitions, Under the Walnut Tree by mother and daughter food writers Anna and Fanny Bergenström. I am told that Anna is THE culinary writer in Sweden.
This book is wonderful, very thick and rich of hundreds of recipes from Sweden, France, South America and other places. Each chapter covers one of their favourite ingredients, from avocado to chocolate, cardamom, tea, tomatoes, etc. If you had just one book and this was it, you could happily cook from it forever, daydream about the pictures and gain knowledge from the intros. It's that kind of book.
The buns will be wonderful when autumn and winter come, but since the weather is decidedly un-summery, and I needed a project for the end of the afternoon to dissipate the black cloud on my mind, I found them quite perfect even right now. They are rich, buttery and very fragrant with cardamom. I had just bought a new packet of green cardamom and I can't describe how pungent the smell was when I opened it. Really worth buying fresh.
I like a crunchy top so I let them cool uncovered, but if you're after a very tender bun let them cool under a tea towel.
Swedish vega buns
adapted from Under the Walnut Tree by Anna and Fanny Bergenström
75 g + 30 g butter
200-300 ml milk
425 g flour
2 packets dried yeast
2 tbsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
90 g sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamom
100 g butter, at room temp
5 tbsps sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsps sugar
Melt the butter and warm the milk.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cardamom in a large bowl. Gradually pour the butter and milk and knead into a soft dough. Add the extra butter and knead to incorporate it. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Mix the butter with the other filling ingredients.
Divide the dough in 2. Roll out each piece into a thin, flat rectangle (about 30 x 25 cm).
Spread half the butter filling on each. Roll up and cut at an angle into 5 cm pieces. Press down on the middle with the handle of a knife so that the sides spread out a little. Let rise 15 more minutes and preheat the oven on 200-225 °C.
Beat the egg with a spoonful of water and brush the buns with it. Sprinkle with the sugar and cardamom and bake for about 15 minutes. For soft buns, let cool under a tea towel. For a crunchier top, let cool on a grid.