Saturday, 3 January 2015

Swedish cardamom buns recipe for John Cleese

swedish cardamom buns
Soft, exotic, sweet but not too sweet, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron buns are a Christmas tradition in Sweden, eaten with a cup of coffee for 'fika' (coffee time). You might think it odd that the Swedish use eastern spices in their baking... but it's a legacy of their seafaring adventures from the Vikings onwards. This recipe is a fully cardamom version of a recipe from a Gothenburg all female bakery, Alvar and Ivar; I have their recipe for spelt, cinnamon and cardamom buns in my book MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party.
Ex-Monty Python and Fawlty Towers genius John Cleese liked my instagram of these cardamom buns and posted it on his facebook page which got almost 3k likes. Who knew he was into Swedish buns?

Swedish Cardamom buns recipe

Makes approximately 10 to 12 buns

For the dough:
The seeds of 35 cardamom pods, crushed into powder
250ml of lukewarm whole milk
50g butter (unsalted)
7g fast acting yeast
75g caster sugar
400g of plain white flour
1/2 tsp of vanilla paste
1/2 tsp of sea salt or vanilla salt

For the filling:
150g salted butter
50g caster sugar

To glaze
1 egg, whisked with a little milk
100g nibbed sugar

First of all split the cardamom pods and crush the seeds inside using a pestle and mortar. In Sweden you can buy these ready seeded but it's more difficult in other countries.
Melt the butter, the milk and the yeast in a heatproof jug, make sure you don't overheat because you will kill the yeast. Just lukewarm is fine.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the sugar, flour, vanilla paste and salt, then add the warm milk/yeast/butter mixture. Add half of the ground cardamom seeds to the dough.
Knead until you form a dough or mix with the dough hook in the stand mixer for ten minutes. This is a very soft dough.Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise for one hour.
In the meantime make the filling by making a paste by mixing the butter, caster sugar and the rest of the cardamom powder. Set aside.
Prepare a flat baking tray with a silpat or parchment paper.
Flour a clean surface and roll out the dough, very gently, taking care not to knock all the air out of it, making a large rectangle.
Carefully, with a rubber spatula, spread the buttery cardamomy filling all over the rectangle.
Then fold over the rectangular in half, pulling the long edge over to the other long edge.
Using a knife or dough cutter, cut the dough into 2 cms lengths, starting from the short edge and going all along until you get to the other short edge.
Twist the dough strips then coil them into snail-like buns. Place the buns, not touching each other, onto the prepared baking tray.
Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for another hour.
Preheat your oven to 200ºc.
When risen, using a pastry brush, brush the egg glaze mixture gently all over the buns then scatter the nibbed sugar over the top.
Bake for 4 to 5 minutes until golden. Serve warm with coffee or you can let them cool then toss them in a plastic bag and freeze. They reheat well.
swedish cardamom buns


  1. Ground Cardamon seeds are easily available in any good indian grocer spice shop, I've seen them recently at the Sweet Mart in Bristol St Johns Road, Deepak cash and Carry in 535 Garratt lane Tooting.
    "Spice Man" Chef Tony Singh advocates putting the whole cardamoms through your spice dedicated coffee grinder then a coarse sieve to discard the husks ensuring any few lumps of seeds are squashed through to the mix. Inevitably freshly ground will taste fresher longer.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I got my cardamom seeds from Steenbergs but I've had them a while. Although the pods were green, I realised the seeds inside weren't all black, some were pale brown and woody in texture so I picked those out.
      I probably could get just the seeds in a specialised Indian shop but I've been on a use up your odds and ends kick recently.
      But I do think we are not using up our spices regularly enough. It's a shame we cannot buy small amounts of fresh spices easily in supermarkets. Mostly spices are already old by the time they are on the shelf.
      I could have ground up my cardamom seeds in my Vitamin, but it was such a small amount and I figured I'd lose half of them from being scattered in powder form up the sides of the Vitamin.

  2. Those look beautiful! I make a braided cardamom bread at Christmastime, but these I'd make year-round!

    1. Hi Teresa, actually one could use this same dough to make a big braided bread instead...

  3. Lovely, as always. These are destined to be sent to my patissiere daughter who is a big lover of yeast breads and has made Cardamom buns before.

  4. they look so lovely! Might try to make them this weekend, the weather seems the right one for it

    1. January is not the month to deprive yourself of comfort food and alcohol is it?

    2. Exactly! three days in and I have already made bread and bara brith. Perfect third bake with these :)

  5. Cardamom is one of my favourite aromatic spices, sweet yet savoury. Having a little trouble buying vanilla paste, might need a speciality shop for this, any substitute?

    1. Hi Magnolia,
      Nowadays I tend to buy vanilla paste which you can get in Waitrose in the baking section, but you can also use a vanilla pod, split down the middle, the seeds scooped out, or a tsp of good vanilla extract (vanilla essence is a fake version of vanilla extract). I also often use vanilla salt in baking which you can get from certain specialist shops. Or make your own, just add all your old vanilla pods to a jar of sea salt.


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