channeling the Finnish

When my friend Laura heard about my cinnamon roll quest, she quickly typed up her tried and true recipe.  She’s part Finnish and this was a classic, barely sweet, cardamom laced number.

Ground cardamom is a surprisingly hard thing to come by in my suburbia*and the spice grinder is still in storage in a New York attic.  Laura offered to get me some in her neighbourhood but I thought the tube I had been hoarding since the Finnish Christmas fare would stretch.  It didn’t so I had to make do with a dash of ginger and some nutmeg to round it out.  My friends, spice in the dough is a delight.  This was a quiet version of the warming comfort of chai rolls, a shoulder pat instead of a bear hug hello.

The results split the family.  For the man, the Finnish rolls were a perfect blend of spice and dialled down sugar.  He assigned them to the realm of after pub snacks with a cup of coffee, a place otherwise reserved for tarte flambée, soft boiled scotch eggs, and the carefully rationed Cheetos my mother packs in her suitcase when she flies over.**  For me, they were too much like the bread.  I want my cinnamon roll to be a soft pillow, dripping with glaze.  So the quest continues, but this we know – there will be spice in the dough.

If you, like my man, prefer the slightly sweet and vibrant spice or that Nordic Bakery is your go-to, then these puppies are for you.



500 ml milk
50 g fresh yeast (you can get this from the bakery counter and most supermarkets if you ask)
200 ml sugar
2 tsp salt
about 2.5 tsp ground cardamom
1 egg
2 litres plain flour
raisins (optional)
200 g margarine, softened (like Stork)

For decoration:

Heat milk to body temperature and melt the yeast into it.

Beat together the sugar and egg well. Add salt and cardamom.

Add milk and yeast to this mixture and then slowly mix in the flour. Add raisins towards the end if you are using them.

Knead the dough for a minimum of 20 minutes. When dough is thoroughly kneaded, add the soft margarine and knead until it is mixed in well (this is very squelchy!).
You can then shape the dough into loaves, plaited rings, individual little balls, or into cinnamon rolls.

To make the cinnamon rolls, roll about a fifth of the dough into a rectangular shape, about a centimetre thick. Paint the surface with melted margarine or butter and sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Starting with the long side, tightly roll the dough into a log. Cut this with a sharp knife to make individual little buns.

Put the dough somewhere warm to rise, probably for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to about 200-225 C.

Glaze the surface with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sugar and perhaps almonds before putting in the oven.

Bake until golden brown on top (this took me about 10-15

*Why didn’t I think of the Indian groceries?  I now have an endless supply.

**That is when I haven’t already filled the ‘rents bags with swag from William Sonoma or owl printed sheets from Garnet Hill.


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