These cinnamon buns just scream Christmas morning! They’ll fill your home with the warm cozy smells of butter and cinnamon, and they’ll be an instant hit with everyone around your tree. Cardamom gives these buns a traditional Scandinavian flair, but if you don’t care for it, or don’t have it in your pantry, just double up on the cinnamon in its place. To have these buns at hand come Christmas morning, make the dough the night before, and give it a slow rise in the fridge overnight. Just give it an extra half hour to warm up before you proceed with rolling it out. Don’t let the lengthy instructions scare you away- this recipe is super fun to make, and everyone can lend a hand in rolling the buns. God Jul & Merry Christmas!
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (30 minutes active time)
Makes about 24 small buns
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons 2% or whole milk
- 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) dry active yeast
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon ground cardamom
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 ½ – 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus a bit more for rolling out the dough)
- 1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom, divided
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract, divided
- Toasted sliced almonds, to garnish (optional)
- Heat your milk in a small bowl (in the microwave heat for about 1 minute, on the stove top, heat until just before simmering), then add the yeast and a pinch of the brown sugar. Whisk together, and set aside for 10 minutes until frothy (this lets you know the yeast is alive and working!).
- While the yeast is proofing, add the ¼ cup brown sugar to a large bowl, then mix in the egg plus yolk, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, ½ tablespoon ground cardamom, ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons salt. Whisk together until well combined. When the yeast finishes proofing, add it to the bowl and mix well.
- Add 3 cups of the flour to your bowl, and use your hands to incorporate it into the wet ingredients. Knead the dough to combine everything. It should feel slightly tacky, but not sticky. If it still feels too wet and sticky after kneading for a few minutes, add the remaining flour in 2 tablespoon increments until you have a smooth, elastic, but still slightly tacky dough. Cut up 4 of the tablespoons (½ the stick) of room temperature butter, and knead them slowly into the dough until smooth and well incorporated.
- Form your dough into a round ball, and place it back in the large bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and leave to rest and rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until roughly doubled in size.
- While your dough rises, make the filling and the glaze. In a small saucepan, bring the ½ cup dark brown sugar mixed with ½ cup water to a boil. Whisk in ½ tablespoon cinnamon, ½ tablespoon ground cardamom, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
- For the filling, in a small bowl mix together the remaining 4 tablespoons room temperature butter, ¼ cup dark brown sugar, ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon, ½ tablespoon ground cardamom, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Use a fork to mash them all together until you have a smooth mix.
- When the dough finishes rising, knead it lightly, and roll it out onto a clean, dry, lightly floured surface. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a wine bottle!
- Roll the dough into a large rectangle roughly ¼ inch thick. Spread your butter + sugar mixture evenly all over the rolled out dough, taking it all the way up to the edges. Fold the dough into thirds, like a business envelope, with closed seam facing you.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough along the length of the fold into ½ inch wide strips. To roll each strip into a knot, twist the strip a few times from end to end, then wrap the twisted length a few times around your two fingers, then tuck the ends inside the knot to finish.
- Place the buns ends side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You’ll need two baking sheets to bake all your buns at once. Cover the buns with damp tea towels, and allow to rise for 30 more minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 (if you have a convection oven setting, definitely use it here). Brush each bun generously with the brown sugar syrup, then sprinkle each with the slivered almonds if using.
- Bake your buns for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown on top and bottom. Immediately after you take them out of the oven, brush them with a final coat of your brown sugar syrup, then dig in!