Thursday, September 25, 2014

Swedish Cardamom Buns

I'm in love with cinnamon rolls.  Fluffy and sweet, gooey and tender...they're hard to top on my list of favorite desserts.  I've previously posted a few cinnamon roll type recipes like purple yam buns and chocolate Earl Grey tea sweet rolls and figured it was high time to attempt a vegan version of Swedish cardamom buns!  They're similar to cinnamon rolls, but cardamom is used in the dough and filling.  Also, the dough is shaped into ornate knots and twists.  So purty.  I've never actually tasted kardemummabullar (as they're called in Sweden), but I've admired many gorgeous photos of them and absolutely adore their unique shape.

I'd love to visit Sweden one day (and I hope I can find vegan kardemummabullar available somewhere when I do), but in the meantime, here's my homemade version. They're typically sprinkled with pearl sugar, but I didn't have any.  They were still awesome, in my opinion. :)

Before you embark on your Swedish cardamom bun making journey, watch this video that shows how to cut and shape the dough.

Makes 12 buns

1/2 cup lukewarm water (it should feel like warm bath water; 90-110ºF)
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar), plus 1 teaspoon (to activate the yeast)
1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup water (at room temperature)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1/2 cup more (or as needed during kneading)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

For Brushing the Dough
1/4 cup non-dairy milk

  1. Proof the Yeast: Place the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast packet. Let the yeast activate for a few minutes. If the mixture doesn't foam, start over with a new packet of yeast.
  2. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, canola oil, 3/4 cup water, 2 cups of the flour, ground cardamom, and salt. Stir to combine. Then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at at time, stirring in between each addition. (You should have added a total of 3 1/2 cups of flour at this point)
  3. Knead the Dough:  Knead the dough in the bowl using one hand. If it's sticky, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough doesn't stick to your hand anymore.
  4. More Kneading: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes until it's smooth. (150 turns is the magic number) Add a little bit of flour as needed if the dough starts to stick to your board or counter. 
  5. First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with a clean towel. Place the dough in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. (I use my turned off gas oven for this.)
  6. After the dough has doubled, punch it down with your fist, cover it with the towel again, and let it rest in the bowl for a few minutes.
  7. Make the Filling:  Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix them into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  8. Get Rolling: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times to make sure all the air is out. Using your hands, stretch the dough into a small rectangle and then roll it out into a larger 12" x 18" rectangle using a rolling pin.
  9. Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough and then fold it in thirds letter-style. 
  10. Roll the dough out again so that it's almost back to a 12" x 18" rectangle.
  11. Line two 11" x 13" rimmed baking pans with parchment paper. (Or use whatever size pan you want to use.  I used rimmed pans so that the dough wouldn't get smashed by my towel during the second rise.)
  12. Cut the Dough: Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips. (After slicing off the ends that contained little or no filling, I ended up with 12 strips.  You can go thinner or thicker with the strips.  Up to you!) 
  13. Shape the Dough:  Again, watch this video for dough shaping guidance.
  14. Second Rise: Place the shaped buns in the pans and cover with a clean towel.  Let the buns rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes until they've doubled in size.
  15. Preheat your oven to 400°F. 
  16. Gently brush each bun with milk. 
  17. Bake:  When the oven is heated to 400°F, bake the buns for about 15 minutes, or until they're puffy and golden.  Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool. 

I noticed that the dough got really oily while I was shaping it.  This is probably because I used coconut oil in the filling, which has a lower melting point than butter or margarine.  My dough was on the warm side because I let it rise in my turned off oven, plus it was a warm and humid day.  A happy consequence of the oily dough was that the brown sugar and coconut oil caramelized on the bottom of some of the buns making them taste like sticky rolls.  Yeah!  The best of both worlds.  I also think the oil helped the buns brown nicely overall.  So everything worked out in the end. :)

Here's what my kitchen looked like.  Can you smell them? :)

I have to say that these were one of the best things I've made during my short amateur vegan baking career.  The buns were fluffy and tender with a mild sweetness and a hint of cardamom.  I was once scared of baking with yeast, but now it's all I want to do.  I already know what baked goods I'll be giving out for the holidays this year.  (and it's not vegan fruitcake)


Monday, September 15, 2014

No-Bake Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ready for the next mini cheesecake installment? It's starting to look like all I post are dessert recipes. I guess desserts are a lot more interesting to me than savory food (not true).  I'm just really bad at measuring and writing down what I put into my savory dishes.  I hope to get better at that. But in the meantime, here's another one of my beloved no-bake mini cheesecakes in celebration of autumn.  It's my favorite time of the year due to all the pumpkin flavored treats associated with the season. Let the pumpkin mania begin!

I made this cheesecake to use up some leftover pumpkin purée that I had after making an awesome vegan challah recipe. (It turned out fabulous-- I highly recommend the recipe!) I wasn't in the mood to deal with soaking cashews, so I used peanut butter instead. And because peanut butter was involved, I figured chocolate should be too. :)

Makes one 4-inch mini cheesecake (like one of these

1/2 cup raw pecans (or walnuts or almonds)
4 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon water, if needed
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup pumpkin purée (store-bought or homemade)
1/3 cup unsalted peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of salt

For Sprinkling
A handful of pecan pieces

Chocolate Topping
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
  1. Pulse the pecans a few times in a food processor. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and blend until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture stick together)
  2. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of a mini cheesecake pan lightly greased with coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. Blend all the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
  4. Spoon the filling mixture over the crust and smooth out the top. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans.
  5. Whisk together the chocolate topping ingredients and then drizzle the mixture over the cheesecake.
  6. Cover with foil and place the cheesecake in the freezer for 2-3 hours or overnight until completely set.
  7. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Serve chilled.

You'll definitely taste the peanut butter. And with the spices in the mix, you'll also taste your standard pumpkin pie. It's a pretty delicious combo, so says my palate. But if you have a preference for peanut butter over pumpkin (or vice versa), give the filling mixture a taste before sticking it into your cheesecake pan. As always, adjust the flavors to your liking. If you add more pumpkin purée, you'll probably also have to add more coconut oil to ensure that the cheesecake firms up nicely while in the freezer. And if peanut butter flavored cheesecakes aren't your thing, you can also use raw cashew butter or raw cashews instead of peanut butter.

For a full-sized 8-inch round or square cheesecake, you can double the crust ingredients and double or triple (for more height) the filling ingredients. Even though this is a mini cheesecake, I think it would make a nice dessert for two or even four people to share. Nut-based cheesecakes are so rich and decadent that even one small slice is filling.  But of course, no one would blame you for wanting seconds. :)