Cinnamon Buns

Magnus Nilsson’s “The Nordic Baking Book” is a fabulous cookbook. It is far and away the most solid most varied baking book in my library. My daughter and I made these cardamom flavored cinnamon rolls on the last day of this year’s school holiday. They work perfectly as written. The instructions are good, but here is some advice coming fresh off yesterday’s baking.

1. You get better flavor when you grind the cardamom and cassia cinnamon just before using. There is a huge difference between fresh-ground, and spices that are pre-ground. Powdering the spice creates a huge number of little tiny specs which radically increases the surface area of what was ground. Oxidation is not our friend. All the lovely aromatics will eventually be lost. So, lets say that you have a jar of ground cardamom on your shelf. If you are not baking Nordic pastries with regularity, or certain Asian cuisines, you may not use it all that often. Was that two years ago you bought that jar?

2. The dough is rolled thinly. The instruction to be sure to develop the gluten in the first mixing through long kneading is an absolute requirement. I suggest keeping the work surface where you are rolling the dough lightly floured, and I would also lightly flour the top of the sheet — the part facing you. A little dusting of flour that you rub over the surface keeps the rolling pin moving. A little flour on the counter also lets the dough stretch without resistance. You may need to flip the dough as you roll. If you are not experienced flipping thin soft doughs don’t worry! Assuming the gluten is well developed you just lift the dough with one or two hands, depending how bit it has become, and flips in the time is takes to say, “flip.” 

3. The biggest potential pitfall is with the butter. The butter is spread in a thin layer over the rolled out dough. The recipe instruction is for “soft” butter. The butter has to be so soft that it spreads with no sense of resistance. I measured the interior temperature of the butter with an instant read thermometer and warmed it in the microwave at the lowest power setting until it reached 18C (65F).

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