...in the blogging sense, that is. My friend Gennie has a cooking blog that she referred to early on as "another asshole with a foodblog" and it stuck with me. Yes! So many assholes writing about food. I might as well be one of them!
But the urge to write and the actual writing of words that include recipes and have beautiful, well-lit photos of the food item at hand, these things do not always go together without effort, and so. This place was forgotten, but the cooking and planning and photographing went on. I continued to challenge myself fairly regularly to new heights in the kitchen, and these Cardamom Buns from Falling Cloudberries were no exception. I don't know about you, but yeasted doughs are kind of perplexing to me. I am 100% aware of the science of yeasted doughs, only the execution is a little weird for me. Is the liquid for proofing the yeast warm enough but not too warm? Is my yeast fresh enough and/or the right kind/quantity? How the hell do I build up the muscles in my forearms such that kneading isn't so...taxing?
(a smart person answers: 1) use a thermometer, 2) that's what sell-by dates and your freezer and the internet are for, 3) just keep doing it and it will get easier. I tell that person SHUT UP.)
So the Cardamom Bun experiment left me a little skeptical at first! What if I wasn't doing things right? My dudes, I should not have worried so much.
Beautiful, no? And completely attainable. I won't lie to you and say they are "easy" exactly, because there is some precision and work involved. But it is all worth it in the end--these little buns are delicious, a perfect morning snack with your coffee, a nice nibble for the 3pm Hungries (we all get them, right?). Best of all, they're easy to freeze after you've formed them, which means baking only a few at a time, which is crucial in a small household.
Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns (adapted from Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries)
1c lukewarm milk (I interpreted this as 110F, which is about 45 seconds in my microwave. The milk cools immediately upon hitting the metal bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer, so plan ahead!)
.5c organic granulated cane sugar (the book calls for superfine sugar but eff that noise. I used regular granulated sugar and had no problems.)
.5oz Active dry yeast (the book calls for cakes of fresh yeast but I only keep ADY, so I've converted this for you. Thank me later.)
1 large organic egg, lightly beaten
4oz. plus 1 tbs of unsalted organic butter (softened)
2tsp ground cardamom (I used black, not green)
1tsp kosher salt
5.25c unbleached all-purpose flour
2tsp ground cinnamon
.25c organic granulated cane sugar
5.5tbs unsalted organic butter (softened)
1 large organic egg, lightly beaten
Make It Like This:
- Start with the dough: In a large bowl, stir together the milk, sugar and yeast, then let stand for a few minutes so the yeast can activate. Stir in the egg, butter, cardamom and salt. I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment--do not be afraid of the clumpy butter. Even soft butter does not mix perfectly into a puddle of liquids.
- If you are also using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook and begin mixing in the flour a bit at a time. If you're mixing by hand, there is indication that a wooden spoon should be enough--good luck with that. This is a lot of flour.
- Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead with flour-dusted hands for about five minutes. This was a super easy knead, although my dough was never "beautifully soft" as the book indicated it would be. No matter. Put the dough back in your mixing bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. We keep our house at about 66 three seasons a year, so I usually turn my oven on as low as it will go, then set the bowl of dough on the top next to the vent so that it actually has a chance to rise.
- While the dough is rising, mix the cinnamon and sugar together for the filling and set aside.
- Once it's risen, plop the dough back onto your work surface, flour it, and separate it into 4 portions. One at a time, roll each portion into a rectangle that's about 10"x12" and 1/8" thick. Spread a tablespoon or so of softened butter over the dough (I use a small offset spatula to make my life easier), and sprinkle with a portion of the cinnamon-sugar. Roll the dough back up so you have a long sausage-looking thing and set aside. Repeat with the other portions of dough, butter and filling.
- Once you've made your 4 logs of rolled, filled dough, start cutting. Make angled cuts, alternating the angles from right to left--it should look like this: \/\/\/\/\/\/ The wide part of the V should be about 2" wide, and the point should be about 3/4" wide. I made the mistake of cutting too closely and some of my buns rolled open! It's okay, they still tasted delicious.
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat (i did one of each, they both left the same perfect un-stuck results). Set the V's on their "fatter" side and push down on the narrow point, smushing them all the way in. This makes them into pleasant little boat-shaped rolls, very cute! Leave at least 1-2" between rolls so they have room to rise and bake without sticking together.
- Brush the buns with the 2nd beaten egg and sprinkle with more sugar. Let the buns rise for about 30 min, which is just enough time for...
- ...Preheating your oven to 350F. Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes, remove to a rack, eat while still warm! I'm drooling again just thinking about them. They keep okay for a day, but will never be as perfect as they were straight out of the oven.
A note on freezing buns: If you are going to freeze some (or all!) buns for baking individually or in smaller batches, take a small detour at Step 6. After you've cut and smushed your buns, line them up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pop the whole thing in the freezer for at least 2 hours, until they're frozen through. Then you can put them in a zip-top freezer bag and grab what you need as you go. The frozen buns will need more time to thaw and rise, but you can take them out the night before, put them on a lined baking sheet and cover lightly with some plastic wrap, and they should be perfectly ready in the morning. Brush with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake as instructed. Aren't you so glad I thought ahead?