Overnight Orange Cardamom Rolls

Like religion and politics and tradition, there comes a point in adulthood when you decide what to keep from childhood and what to revise and what to frame for a shelf. These questions go through rounds of editing when two become one and then three and almost four. The Coleman family Christmas traditions are a slurry of his, mine, and what is starting to become ours. But the overnight orange cardamom rolls and cutting down a tree and going on a carriage ride and decorating a gingerbread house and cookies, the new things, they all felt a little fraudulent at first, like trying on a romper when you’ve always worn jeans. Do they fit us right? Only time will tell.

orange cardamom roll dough

We’re still trying on what to make for Christmas dinner. I’m not ready for another round of Thanksgiving until next Thanksgiving. And somehow, call it tradition (?), a plague passes through the house just before Santa. A Christmas without saltine crackers might not be a Christmas at all.

But this year, since Kev is always craving casseroles at the holidays and since casseroles are the only thing I’m craving this pregnancy, we’re making his grandma’s potato casserole, the kind with the buttery corn flakes crunched on top. They called it Kev’s casserole growing up. I called it Mom’s potato casserole. Turns out, we were all making the same recipe, 300 miles apart. His, mine, and, this year, ours.

The tree is up. The carriage ride rode. And the gingerbread house is going up tonight as Hal’s fever goes down. Oh, and the overnight orange cardamom rolls have been tested for the 5th time, promising warm rolls on Christmas morning and extra sleep for me. Ours, ours, and ours. These traditions are starting to feel less like a romper.

If you’d like to try on these overnight orange cardamom rolls too, there’s a couple of things to know first.

These Nordic-inspired rolls are not to be confused with fluffy, cream cheesy American cinnamon rolls, though they do have a classic cinnamon swirl filling. While they sit firmly in the roll family, they are almost a cross between a roll and a scone, slightly dense with a semi-soft interior and semi-crispy exterior brushed in a golden egg wash. These rolls are plenty sweet and perfectly spiced but far less sweet than American rolls. For all those reasons, the ingredient ratios and preparation of this recipe are different than a traditional American roll.

The dough itself is laced with cardamom, a peppery spice I fell in love with over Megan Gordon’s granola recipe. I love to pair cardamom with orange zest, so that’s just what I did, which also helps to accentuate the sweetness of the dough without adding more sugar. Note: orange zest is not common in these traditional rolls, but try it once, and you might also be hooked.

The shape of this roll begs for a tighter dough in order to maintain its triangular shape. It also requires a watchful rise time so that the rolls don’t overproof and bust open. Think tight triangular scone here over the busty American roll.

Overnight Orange Cardamom Rolls from the faux martha

This recipe was developed specifically to be made overnight so that you can catch some extra zzz’s the morning of while also controlling the rise of these rolls. I started with the overnight roll recipe in my book, The Minimalist Kitchen (which I hear will be back on the shelf in the new year!). Since the rolls are baked individually and not all cozied up next to one another to steam and rise at the same time, I had to change the morning pre-bake steam method slightly. Good news though, this change-up didn’t add a ton of extra time, so please don’t wake up early on behalf of these.

Below, you’ll find a baking schedule and recipe. I’ll butt out and let the recipe start talking. But before I go, thank you for being here, in this space, sharing a screen with me for another year, 11 years. Your presence here means a whole lot to me. Merry, happy holidays. I’ll see you next year!

Overnight Orange Cardamom Rolls from the faux martha

Overnight Orange Cardamom Rolls Baking Schedule

day before
  • 4-5 PM: Make the dough and allow to double in size in a warm, cozy spot, 1-4 hours.
  • 7-9 PM: Assemble the rolls, and place in the fridge overnight to rest and halt the rise.
Day of
  • 7 AM: Preheat the oven to 175°F.
  • 7:10 AM: Turn oven off and allow rolls to wake up and take a quick, warm steam bath before baking, 15-20 minutes.
  • 7:25 AM: Remove awakened rolls from oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
  • 7:30 AM: Return to preheating oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • 8:15 AM: Breakfast is served.
Use this schedule as a template, altering start times as needed.

how to make Overnight Orange Cardamom Rolls from the faux martha


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Overnight Orange Cardamom Rolls

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Total Time: 15 hours
  • Yield: 7-8 rolls 1x


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.)



Cardamom Dough

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

Egg Wash

1 large egg
1 tsp. water
pearl sugar


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.

For a traditional cardamom roll recipe, check out Sini’s, which I studied to create this recipe, mixing it with the overnight method from my book The Minimalist Kitchen.

  • Prep Time: 20 min.
  • Cook Time: 20 min.
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