Norwegian Cardamom-Raisin Buns
A couple of days ago, I spent the morning at the MoMA seeing their Miró show (if you're in NYC, go. It's was an amazing show and the sculptures are not to be missed). It was a cold, rainy, all around crappy day, perfect for museum-going. Also perfect, it turns out, for Norwegian bun-making. Because when I got home, R had a wrack of these little beauties just coming out of the oven. He's had buns on the mind for a while now (that sounds a bit strange...), convinced nothing we have in America quite approximates what he's used to at home. I'm calling these Norwegian Cardamom-Raisin Buns because that's a fairly good descriptor, although R insists they're "just buns." Okay.
I see cardamom called for in a handful of recipes these days, and it seems to be a fairly trendy spice in baking. But it's surprisingly scarce in New York. So when I stumbled on an exorbitantly priced bottle, I bought it anyway. Evidently it's as common as ginger in Scandinavia, and comes from the same family. You can also easily find it in Indian stores (right Hanne!), assuming you can easily find an Indian store.
If you happen to speak Norwegian, the original recipe comes from this website. If not, I forced R to translate and you'll find his version below. This is a rather forgiving recipe, as R didn't bloom his yeast or weigh any of the ingredients, just eyeballing instead. In any case, they're prefect for a cold, rainy day after a morning at the museum.
1 liter all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
3 1/2 deciliters milk (not fat free, but actually that works fine)
Raisins, as much as you'd like (some alternatives would be chocolate, marzipan or other dried fruits)
100 grams butter, melted
1.25 deciliters sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 egg, beaten, for the wash
Mix flour, yeast, sugar and cardamom. Add the milk to the melted butter, and heat to 40 degrees Celsius for dry yeast (which is just a bit warmer than body temperature). Add the milk and butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms. At this point, kneed the raisins into the formed dough, just until incorporated.
Sprinkle a bit of flour on top, cover the bowl and allow the yeast to rise for 30 minutes or double the original size.
Kneed the dough a bit, then split it into 16 pieces. Form each piece into a bun by rubbing it between the palms of your hands or against the table with one hand. The pressure should start out hard and get progressively lighter. There should not be cracks in the dough, but if there are, face those down toward the pan so they'll be pretty. Brush the tops with the beaten egg.
Oven should be preheated to 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celsius). Bake on sheets for 10-15 minutes.
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