This is just the thing I love to bake.
There’s nothing fussy, nothing requiring great skill or intense patience. There are no special tools needed and even if you mess up totally, they’ll still somehow look good and taste delicious. When it comes down to it, there is only yeast and flour…and dough that you can sink my palms into and feel good about.
cardamom sweet rolls.
A few days ago, when I was traveling, I got to thinking about pastries. I saw some stunning ones in small artisan bakeries in Savannah and Charleston, and was reminded again of the intense differences between our Americanized jumbo danishes and traditional European pastries. Breakfast pastries in general get a bad rap because they are seemingly associated with saturated fat, sugar and, well, obesity in general. A typical scone from Starbucks weighs in at around five hundred calories…but is also twice the size of what a scone should be. Same goes for french fries, burgers and even sodas!
You see that a lot here. Bigger isn’t always better, friends.
But…step off a plane in Europe and you’ll find pastries the way they were meant to be. They aren’t junked up with fake white frosting, dripping with butter or the size of your head….instead, they are dainty. They fit in the palm of your hand and are made without preservatives, the way pastries ought to be made. Instead, they’re made with real creamy butter, white flour, farm fresh eggs and sugar…but aren’t heavy in the least bit. Sometimes they are more on the savory side and served in bread baskets, along with cheese and fruit. They are meant to be enjoyed, savored, celebrated.
These cardamom sweet rolls are anything but their American cinnamon roll cousin. They’re small and not-too-sweet, making them a great option for a Thanksgiving bread basket. They remind me of something I would buy in France and have for a mid-afternoon snack, with a creamy cafe au lait. They are sweet rolls you can feel good about baking and eating…the kind that won’t weigh you down for the rest of the day and the kind that makes an ordinary morning a special one.
Cardamom Sweet Rolls
makes 12-14 small rolls
1 packet dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk, warm
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2.5 T butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp cardamom
2 T sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 T butter, soft
* 1 egg, beaten with a little warm water
In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm milk and let sit for five minutes for the yeast to dissolve. Pour into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid and add the sugar, cardamom, soft butter and egg. Mix for three minutes on medium speed. Add the flour and salt and mix on high speed for six minutes, until the dough becomes a smooth and elastic ball.
Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for two hours. It will double in size.
Punch down dough on a floured surface and roll out to be a wide rectangle. Using your fingers, smoosh the soft butter on top and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar to coat. Roll up, starting from the left side (see above photo) and then slice into 1 inch rolls.
Place rolls on a lined baking sheet, cover and let stand for thirty minutes. Brush with beaten egg and bake for twenty minutes at 350, until brown and golden.