Swedes are obsessed with cardamom, and Swedish cardamom buns can be found in any bakery and most grocery stores here. This version uses spelt flour, coconut oil, and no white sugar for a really flavourful, healthy-ish bun that’s just as good as a bakery bun.
These are soft, lightly sweet buns, and taste a lot like what you can get in Haga in Gothenburg (just with less sugar). I don’t add pearl sugar, which is typical, but you can sprinkle some on if you want that really classic look.
If you prefer to roll rather than twist, make these like normal vegan cinnamon rolls. Simply follow the recipe as instructed, but roll the dough rather than folding, and slice into rounds. Bake as instructed in the cinnamon roll post.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
It’s a classic cardamom bun made with shelf-stable, pantry friendly ingredients. Even if you don’t follow a vegan or dairy-free diet, it’s a good recipe to have on hand.
- They’re just sweet enough: this is a sweet dough, and has sugar in the filling, but the buns aren’t way too sweet.
- It’s an easy dough: while sweet bread might seem intimidating, this is a simple and forgiving dough to work with. Spelt based breads don’t require as much kneading time, either.
- It makes a big batch: if you want to freeze some for later or plan to share, this recipe makes a whopping 18 good-sized buns.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Spelt flour: white all-purpose flour can be subbed for spelt, but you’ll have to knead longer to get the gluten going. You can use other wheat flours (einkorn, emmer, and so on) but I would be hesitant to use all whole wheat flour.
- Coconut sugar: white or cane sugar can be substituted for the coconut sugar. Maple and date sugar also work well.
- Cinnamon: these vegan cardamom buns use a mix of both cinnamon and cardamom, which is quite popular here, but you can leave the cinnamon out if preferred.
- Milk: I always use oat milk. Any type of milk can be used, including dairy milk. I don’t recommend canned coconut milk.
- Yeast: fresh or dry. While the recipe and video are pictured with fresh yeast, dry yeast is outlined in the recipe card. I haven’t made this particular recipe with sourdough, but I do often make my basic sweet dough (the base here) with 100g active starter and no changes other than a longer rising time.
- Coconut Oil: vegan butter can be used for the filling. Simply replace the coconut oil with it.
Step by Step
1. Prep the wet ingredients: heat the milk and melt the coconut oil, then whisk the yeast in.
2. Mix in the flour: add the dry ingredients and mix into a shaggy dough.
3. Knead until smooth: turn onto a work surface and knead into a soft, smooth ball.
4. Rise: cover and set aside to rise until doubled in size.
5. Fill: roll out the dough and add the filling, then fold into thirds.
6. Divide: cut the dough into equal pieces, then stretch each piece out and twist.
7. Roll into buns: either roll into spirals or knot the buns, depending on what you like more.
8. Rise and bake: set aside to rise again until puffy, then bake until golden.
The proving time may vary based on the ambient temperature of your home. In a warm house, the dough will rise very quickly (but keep in mind that enriched dough is always a little slower). In the winter time, it can take up to twice as long.
Fresh cardamom from pods rather than ground will both give you the best flavour and be more authentic to Swedish cardamom buns. Coarsely ground cardamom is most often used.
You can roll the dough into snails (see spelt cinnamon rolls) rather than individual buns. This is a good option if you’re not confident about the slightly more complicated shaping here.
As the yeast is proved before mixing with the dry ingredients, any form of yeast (traditional, instant, quick, and fresh) can all be used interchangeably. The rising time will vary slightly based on the type of yeast used.
A range is provided for the flour needed because it’ll vary depending on whether you use all light spelt or a mix of light an whole grain. The same goes for subbing white flour.
While this recipe is vegan as written if using maple syrup, honey can be used interchangeably and you’ll see it in the video. This is a whole conversation, but I choose to use honey because it’s local to me, and more animals are hurt due to overseas transport, etc. so honey is a good option in Europe.
See the video for a visual on how to shape the buns. That part starts about halfway through.
How to Store
Storage: these buns are best the day they’re baked, but can be stored in a sealed container for up to three days. I recommend lightly toasting before serving if they’re more than a day old.
Freezing: freeze any leftover buns in an airtight container for up to six months. They will be slightly dry after being frozen, but toasting helps. Brush with a little extra coconut oil when warm to freshen them up.
- Test your yeast: if you’re not sure whether your yeast is still active or not, test a small amount in a dish of warm water before starting. You don’t want to waste ingredients by using expired yeast.
- Refrigerate yeast: on that note, dry yeast should always be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life.
- Don’t over-knead: this isn’t white or bread flour, and spelt doesn’t benefit from an extra-long kneading time. Five or six minutes will do it as spelt has a lower gluten content.
- Rise in a cool place: for the second rise, once the buns have been filled, they should rise at room temperature or even somewhere slightly cooler. If placed in a warm spot, the filling sometimes runs out.
More Sweet Breads with Spelt Flour
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Swedish Cardamom Buns
- 500 ml nondairy milk oat, almond, etc.
- 70 grams coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast*
- 800 – 900 grams light spelt flour**
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 70 grams soft coconut oil
- 50 grams coconut sugar
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cardamom fresh ground is best
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat on low-medium until warm but not boiling. Whisk in the coconut oil and maple syrup, then pour this mixture into a large heat-safe bowl.500 ml nondairy milk, 70 grams coconut oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, 4 teaspoons active dry yeast*
- Check to make sure it's not too hot (it should be just warmer than your skin) before whisking in the yeast. Let it rest for about 15 minutes, or until foaming.
- Stir in 150 grams (1 cup) of flour, the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Add the remaining flour in 80 gram (1/2 cup) increments, stirring between additions, until it becomes too difficult to stir with a wooden spoon.800 – 900 grams light spelt flour**, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured countertop and knead, sparingly adding more flour as necessary, until a soft and smooth dough forms, about six minutes.
- Oil a large bowl and place the dough into it, turning it a couple of times to coat it in a little oil. Place a large plate over the bowl and set it into a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Gently punch the dough down and place it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle, about 2 cm (4/5th of an inch) thickness, and spread with the filling.
- Fold the dough into thirds, taking the side furthest from you and bringing it towards you two thirds of the way, then folding the other side over it.
- Use a serrated knife to cut 18 equal strips of dough, then gently stretch each strip before twisting as many times as you can, then tie into knot shapes, tucking one end underneath and pulling the other up through the centre of the knot. Alternatively roll into spirals.
- Place completed buns onto the prepared baking sheets, then cover with a kitchen towel and set them on the counter to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Once the buns are finished rising, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Cool for about ten minutes on the baking sheet before serving. These are best the day they're baked.
- Melt the coconut oil over low heat, then whisk in the coconut sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cardamom. This can cool slightly if you make it before the dough, but don't let it harden fully (this helps to prevent the filling from running out during baking).70 grams soft coconut oil, 50 grams coconut sugar, 4 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons cardamom
** Normal wheat flour will work well here but I wouldn’t try using all whole spelt as it makes them too heavy. If they need to be whole grain then go for sprouted spelt instead, but they won’t be as light.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This recipe was first shared in May 2018. It has been updated with process images and a video as of November 2022. There have been no changes to the recipe.