These Nordic-Inspired Orange Cardamom Rolls were developed to be made overnight for a warm treat on Christmas morning, or any weekend morning, without losing any sleep. Begin making a day before serving, around 4 pm in the afternoon. (See schedule above.)
1/4 c. (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. all purpose unbleached flour
2 1/2 tsp. Saf instant yeast*
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. whole milk, plus more if needed
1/3 c. pure cane sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tbsp. orange zest (about 1 large orange)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tbsp. pure cane sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. (or a pinch) of kosher salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. water
The day before serving, around 4 pm, make the cardamom dough. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat until half melted. Set aside and allow to cool and finish melting.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast (see notes if using something other than instant yeast), cardamom, and salt until evenly combined. Measure the milk in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk in the sugar, egg, and zest until evenly combined. Pour the milk mixture and the cooled melted butter into the flour mixture, and stir together with a spatula until very roughly combined.
Place bowl on the stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, knead on medium-low speed for 3 minutes or until the dough is evenly combined and smooth. The dough should be semi-soft to touch, slightly damp without sticking to your finger. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon more of milk and mix. If the dough is too wet, add a tablespoon more of flour (see note below). Finish kneading the dough in the bowl or on the counter for a minute to form a smooth ball. Place back in the mixing bowl and cover tightly with foil, plastic wrap, or a towel. Place in a warm spot (over the dryer, on a heat vent, etc.) and allow to double in size, about 1-4 hours (see note below). If using a towel, check to make sure that the dough is not drying out. Lightly spray with water if so.
Prepare the filling. Leave butter out at room temperature. In a small bowl or ramekin, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough out to a 14″ x 12″ rectangle, no larger, trying to keep the thickness of the dough as even as possible. We don’t want to get this dough too thin. Gently and evenly spread the butter over the surface. Sprinkle with the sugar mixture, then lightly pat down to adhere. Begin rolling the long side of the rectangle tightly into a log, leaving you with a 14″ log.
Line two square cake pans or a casserole dish with parchment paper. Set aside. With the seam centered on the underneath side of the log, cut it into 7-8 equal triangles, leaving about 1/4″ width for the tip of the triangle (reference image above for guidance). The first and last cuts can be formed into tiny round rolls by tucking a piece of the end underneath to hold everything in place. Rock the rolls so that the narrow part is facing up, evenly spacing the rolls at least 2″ apart. Cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight. This will slow, if not stall, the rise process, while also infusing extra flavor. Sweet dreams to the both of you.
The morning of, preheat the oven to 175°F and turn off. Place the covered rolls in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Note: Initially, the rolls will look as tight and firm as they did when you placed them in the fridge the night before. This process is intended to take the chill off and slightly loosen to ready the rolls for a hot bake. They are ready when the dough looks slightly relaxed and a touch wet (see image above for reference). We don’t want to over rise the rolls in an effort to maintain their shape.
Meanwhile, make the egg wash. Whisk together the egg and water. Once the rolls are slightly puffed, remove from the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the foil and lightly brush each of the rolls with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the pearl sugar. About 5 minutes into the preheat, return to the oven and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes or until rolls are golden.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving warm. Rolls can also be served completely cooled. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to a day.
Instant yeast needs no activation, meaning no warmed liquid to proof and dissolve the yeast required. You can add it straight into the mixture. If you do not have instant yeast and are using rapid rise, or something similar, warm the milk in a separate pan until warm (about 100-110°F) to proof the yeast first. You can read more about the differences here. I always keep Saf instant yeast stocked in the fridge.
Have you noticed? Most roll recipes say “allow your dough to double in size” without giving an exact time. There’s a good reason for that, and it has to do with the room temperature of your kitchen. Dough in a 68°F kitchen will rise more slowly than dough in a 72°F kitchen. In fact, my doughs tend to rise twice as fast in the summer for that reason. Dry vs. humid climates will also contribute to the texture of your dough. Dry climates (or seasons) tend to require more liquid in the dough, where as humid, wetter climates require more flour. These are some of the quiet variables contributing to the outcome of your rolls. Understanding these variables will help you to troubleshoot on the fly.