Saturday, July 02, 2022 |
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Cardamom buns from Jenny Lind Bakery. (Rick Nelson/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
MINNEAPOLIS — Ruth Raich has happy memories of childhood visits to Sweden, helping her grandmother make kardemummabullar.
What the English-speaking world calls the cardamom bun is a core component of fika, the civilized Swedish practice of a coffee-and-snack break.
What a treat! Cardamom buns are tender but chewy, slightly sweet and ringing with a bracing burst of cardamom. Just looking at these sculpted beauties, their tops glistening with sugar, instantly invokes temptation.
Starting in the late 1980s, Raich’s take on the classic kardemummabullar became a trademark item at each incarnation of her popular baking-centric businesses.
Although her Jenny Lind Cafe in Stockholm, Wisconsin, and Smokey Row Cafe in Red Wing are in Raich’s past, she continues — thankfully — to produce cardamom rolls, baking batches of them several days a week in the cozy Jenny Lind wholesale bakery that she built inside a converted chicken coop on the farm near Maiden Rock, Wis., that she shares with her wife.
My husband, Robert, first encountered Raich’s cardamom rolls in the 1990s and has craved them ever since. (Call them “rolls” or “buns,” the meaning is the same; Raich invokes the former.) He introduced me to their splendors more than 20 years ago, and I’ve been similarly hooked.
Several months ago, I stumbled upon a copy of “Favorite Recipes of the Jenny Lind Bakery &Cafe,” Raich’s 2014 cookbook, and was delighted to discover that it included a recipe for her signature rolls.
My first attempts — tough, bland, ungainly, sometimes all three — were pallid imitations of Raich’s handiwork. What was I doing wrong? My late grandmother Hedvig, the daughter of Swedish farmers, could perform magic with flour and yeast, so you’d think that baking DNA might intervene. Nope.
I called Raich and invited myself to her workplace for a tutorial. Observing this baker in her native habitat was a study in economy of movement. Years of routine means that Raich can seamlessly and simultaneously turn out scones, cookies and three variations of fist-sized sweet rolls: almond, cinnamon and cardamom, all while coaching an amateur on the ins and outs of handling an egg-rich yeasted dough.
After that invaluable lesson, my next few batches, while not identical to Raich’s expert output, were reasonable facsimiles. My kneading abilities are hardly intuitive, and I don’t have her practiced panache when it comes to twisting the dough into beautifully layered buns. But I’m determined to get there.
Makes 1 dozen buns.
Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. Adapted from “Favorite Recipes of the Jenny Lind Bakery &Cafe,” by Ruth Raich ($22).
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more (at room temperature) for greasing bowl
1 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. whole milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 c. flour, plus more for rolling dough
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. ground cardamom
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. water
Sanding sugar or pearl sugar
To prepare dough: Grease a large bowl with room-temperature butter and set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cooled melted butter, milk and 3 beaten eggs, and heat in microwave oven, in 30-second increments, until mixture reaches 100 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (do not exceed 100 degrees).
Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook. Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast and salt, and mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low, add 4 3/4 cups flour and mix until the flour is incorporated into the liquid and the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough is glossy and elastic and forms a ball but still sticks slightly to the bottom of the bowl (add flour as necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to the remaining 1/4 cup; be careful not to add too much flour), about 5 to 6 minutes.
(Alternately, in a large bowl, combine butter-milk mixture with 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast and salt, and stir to combine. Add 4 3/4 cups flour and stir, vigorously, until thoroughly combined. Lightly flour a clean working surface. Scrape dough onto prepared work surface. Using lightly floured hands, knead into an elastic, smooth dough — not too dry, with good elasticity — about 10 to 12 minutes. If dough is too sticky, lightly add flour as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to the remaining 1/4 cup; be careful not to add too much flour.)
Scrape dough into prepared bowl, cover with a cotton dishcloth, place in a warm area (about 80 degrees) and let rise until almost doubled, about 60 minutes.
To prepare filling: In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lightly flour a clean working surface. Using a spatula or scraper, transfer dough to prepared work surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough — in short, quick, even strokes — into a 20- by 24-inch rectangle that is roughly 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Be sure to keep lightly adding flour as needed to the work surface, to prevent the dough from sticking.
Spread the surface of the dough with 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter, working right up to the edges. Sprinkle cardamom-cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter, sprinkling right up to the edges. Starting on the 20-inch side of the rectangle, roll dough snugly into a log, leaving the log seam-side-down on the work surface.
Using a sharp knife, trim uneven ends, then cut the log crosswise into 12 buns measuring about 1 1/2 inches wide. Pick up each bun, with one thumb gripping the top of the dough and the other one gripping the bottom. Gently make two whole twists, with your hands going in opposite directions, pulling lightly on the dough as you twist. After turning the bun in your hands, tuck one end of the bun under the other end, forming a ball. Place twisted buns 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Loosely cover the buns with a cotton dishcloth, place in a warm area (about 80 degrees) and let the buns rise until they’re puffy, about 30 to 45 minutes.
To prepare topping: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the buns with egg wash, then sprinkle with sanding sugar or pearl sugar. Bake until golden (but not too dark, or buns will be dry), about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To prepare ahead: Once the dough has been twisted into buns, the unbaked buns can be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated, overnight. When ready to bake, place buns 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover with a cotton dish cloth, place in a warm area (about 80 degrees) and let buns rise until puffy, about 60 to 75 minutes. Brush with egg wash, garnish with decorative sugar and bake as instructed.
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