For these sweet, swirly cardamom buns, it's not just what's inside that counts. Sprinkled with sliced almonds, browned to perfection, and served within shapely containers, the edible favors are proof that the prettier the package, the more gratifying the gift.
- Yield: Makes 12 four-inch buns
Photography: GEORGE BARBERIS
- Cardamom Filling
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 6 large eggs, room temperature, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Zest of one orange
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
- Sliced almonds, for garnish
Make Cardamom Filling: Set aside.
Whisk together both flours, ground cardamom, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.
Add 6 eggs, zest, and flour mixture to yeast mixture. Beat on medium speed with a dough-hook attachment until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes.
Beat in butter, one piece at a time; continue beating until fully combined and dough is silky but still sticky, about 5 minutes more. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Chill 1 hour. Punch down dough. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle with the short side facing you.
Spread Cardamom Filling on the bottom half of dough and fold the top half over, pressing to seal. Transfer dough to a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze 15 to 20 minutes until firm.
Divide dough crosswise into 12 equal pieces. If at any point the dough becomes difficult to work with, return to the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a pizza wheel or a sharp paring knife to slice each piece of dough in half lengthwise, starting from the open end and stopping about half an inch from the folded edge. (The dough will look like a pair of pants.)
Twist the two legs of dough away from each other to create spirals, then coil the legs together, twisting and overlapping to form a knotted bun. Tuck the ends under the bun and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, 6 buns per sheet. Loosely cover the buns with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until light and full of air, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, brush the buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until buns are a deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container up to a day, reheating on low in an oven before serving.