A couple of years ago, I impulsively booked a trip to Stockholm solely on the recommendation to visit one particular café – Café Saturnus. I’d heard tales of their cinnamon buns, perhaps the biggest and best in Sweden, and I wasn’t disappointed. As big as my face, and as tender as you can imagine, the buns were beautiful. These aren’t as big as the ones I ate in Stockholm, but they are just as delicious.
Despite the name, for an authentic flavour you actually need to include cardamom as well as cinnamon, but go carefully. I first used some ready-ground cardamom that I bought, and it must have been much softer than freshly ground cardamom from pods, because when I used those in the same quantity, they killed my poor yeast. So, learn from my mistake: if you grind your own pods, use just a quarter of the amount in the recipe.
Taken from Comfort by John Whaite, published by Kyle Books. Photography by Nassima Rothacker.
To make the dough, put the flours and cardamom into a bowl and stir in the sugar, salt and yeast. Add the water, milk and egg and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands until you have a scraggy dough. Squeeze in the softened butter, then knead until the mixture is smooth and elastic – about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a mixer fitted with dough hook. The dough will be fairly sticky, but under no circumstances add any more flour – just keep at it and it will become tacky rather than sticky.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise until doubled in size – usually an hour but it could be quicker or slower, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
To make the filling, beat together the butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon and cardamom until very paste-like – you will need to spread this onto the dough, so make sure it is very loose.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.
Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly dust the worktop with flour and turn out the dough onto it.
Roll the dough into a 45cm square and spread the filling over the dough as evenly as possible. Starting with the edge closest to you, fold one third of the dough over, then fold the top third over that first piece – just like folding a business letter. Roll briefly with a rolling pin to ensure all of the dough is stuck together.
Trim the messy ends and discard them, then slice the dough into 12 slices. Take a slice of dough and twist gently until it starts to feel tight, then spiral it round itself and poke one end through the middle to form a knot. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, and place them, well-spaced, onto two lightly greased baking sheets. Allow to rest for another 20–30 minutes, or until they look slightly swollen.
Meanwhile put the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.
Bake the buns for 10 minutes until golden brown. Using a pastry brush, glaze the buns with the sugar syrup, as soon as they come out of the oven. Allow them to cool completely.
To finish the buns, beat together the icing sugar with enough lemon juice so the mixture has the consistency of golden syrup – you may need to add a drop or two of water to slacken it. Drizzle the icing over the buns and sprinkle with pearl sugar, if using.
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