Pumpkin season’s here and I’m welcoming it with open arms. These weeks our dinner plates are filled with everything pumpkin in the savoury range. And I’ve already stacked my freezer with portions of homemade pumpkin purée, to use it in warm-spiced porridge, wintry granola and all kinds of sweet bakes.
Because especially in vegan baking, pumpkin purée makes everything that bit better. Not only does it add its own natural sweetness to your bake, it also does a wonderful job replacing eggs and butter in traditional sweet recipes. Adding pumpkin purée to your batter or dough yields the most fluffy and tender results, which makes it my favourite not so secret ingredient in my pumpkin spiced French toast, Christmas Bundt cake with orange and white chocolate icing and vegan pumpkin cinnamon buns. And in my latest crush: these vegan pumpkin and cardamom knots.
Cardamom knots or kardemummabullar are the cardamom-flavoured sibling of the Swedish kanelbullar, or cinnamon buns. With its fresh, citrussy and delicately floral flavour, cardamom ranks very highly amongst the spices I love best. You can find it featuring in many of my recipes, like the sweet-spiced wintry buckwheat porridge, ginger and cardamom poached quinces or cardamom and rose petal ice cream. So you’ll understand that to me, sweet bread rolls flavoured mainly with cardamom are simply the stuff of dreams.
Traditionally, cardamom knots are made with a sweet yeast dough that’s enriched with full-fat milk, butter and sometimes egg, which makes them soft and fluffy. For a vegan version, you can of course simply leave these extras out – but if you want to add that same lush feel, pumpkin purée is your friend. To make these pumpkin cardamom knots I used a variation on my cinnamon bun dough: a slightly sweetened yeast base with added plant milk, vegetable oil and homemade pumpkin purée. The resulting buns are deliciously crisp and sticky on the outside and moist and airy on the inside – so, so good.
These cardamom knots get their cardamom flavour from three sides. The dough is flavoured with cardamom and a little vanilla. After proving, the dough is rolled out and filled with vegan sugar and cardamom butter, with fresh orange zest added for extra flavour. Then finally, directly after baking, the buns are brushed with a cardamom simple syrup, which gives them a beautiful shine and their deliciously sticky finish.
To make the buns, you can either use shopbought ground cardamom, or grind your own at home. The first will give the buns a soft, round flavour, while the latter will give them a more pronounced and slightly more zesty flavour, so it’s really up to you which version you prefer. To grind your own, split the pods of green cardamoms to remove the brownish black seeds, then grind the seeds to a powder using a pestle and mortar or a coffee or spice grinder.
There are different ways to knot your cardamom knots. In the recipe below I show the basic steps to creating ribbons of dough layered with cardamom butter, followed by a step by step instruction for knotting these into one of the traditional shapes I personally like. I hope you’ll find this helpful, but if you prefer, feel free to simply roll them into a twisted spiral instead, or to choose a bun shape you like better.
After baking and glazing, you can sprinkle the buns with pearl sugar or coursely ground cardamom seeds, or leave them to cool as they are. These cardamom knots are best enjoyed on the day they are baked. But stored in an airtight container they will keep for up to three days and still be delicious. They also freeze well and can be kept in a sealed freezer container for up to two months. Defrost them at room temperature, then refresh them for 5 minutes in the oven before serving.
I hope you’ll love these cardamom knots like we do. If you try them, I’d love to hear your thoughts: please leave a message in the comment section below or on my Instagram.
Vegan cardamom knots with pumpkin purée and orange zest – makes 12
for the dough
- 7 g dry instant yeast
- 50 ml luke-warm water
- 30 g raw cane sugar
- 350 g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting the surface
- 3 g salt
- 100 g pumpkin purée, homemade or tinned (in which case not pumpkin pie filling, but pure pumpkin mash)
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom (or the seeds from 12 green cardamom pods, home-ground to a fine powder)
- seeds of 1 vanilla pod, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 70 ml almond milk or other milk of choice, plus a little extra for brushing the top of the buns
- 30 ml rapeseed oil or other neutral-flavoured oil, plus a little extra for greasing the bowl
for the cardamom filling
- 150 g plant-based margarine (from a block, not a tub), softened to room temperature
- 100 g soft dark brown sugar
- zest of 2 oranges, finely grated
- 2 tsp. ground cardamom (or the seeds from 25 cardamom pods, home-ground to a fine powder)
for the cardamom syrup
- 50 g raw cane sugar
- ½ tsp. ground cardamom (or the seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, home-ground to a fine powder)
- 50 ml water
Start by preparing the dough.
In a large cup, mix the yeast with the luke-warm water and the sugar. Set aside in a warm place to activate the yeast. After 5-10 minutes the mixture should be foamy and doubled in volume.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour with the ground cardamom and the salt. Add the pumpkin puree, yeast mixture, vanilla, almond milk and oil. Using your hands or the dough hook of your mixer, mix the ingredients until they come together, then tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worktop. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. After kneading, with this amount of ingredients used, the dough should be moist, but not sticky. If it does stick, work in a little bit of extra flour; when too dry, add an extra teaspoon of almond milk.
Lightly brush the mixing bowl with vegetable oil, then place the ball of dough back in the bowl and turn it until it’s covered with a thin layer of oil. Loosely cover the bowl with cling film or a tea towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size. Instead, you can also leave the dough to prove in the fridge overnight.
While the dough is rising, stir the sugar, orange zest and ground cardamom into the softened margarine to make the filling. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead for another minute to press out large air bubbles. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle measuring roughly 30×50 cm. Spread the cardamom filling over the dough, covering the dough right to the edges (so also the parts I left uncovered in the picture below).
Fold one of the short ends of the dough over the middle third of the rectangle, then fold the remaining part over, as if you were folding a letter. You should now have a rectangle consisting of three layers of dough, with the filling enclosed inside.
Cut the dough into 12 strips, using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. I like to use the handle of a long wooden spoon and roll the pizza cutter alongside it, to make the strips nice and straight.
Take one of the strips, stretch it a bit and twist it a few times.
Roll the strip loosely around your index and middle finger, then make a second, slightly larger loop around your two fingers and thumb.
Now take out your thumb and use it to twist the strip of dough and make it cross the two loops at a 90° angle, as if wrapping a string around a parcel.
Fold the strip all over the loops, then take out your fingers.
Secure the strip at the bottom of the knot, tucking in the edges.
Place the bun on the lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining strips. Arrange the buns over the sheet, leaving enough room between them to expand. Loosely cover the buns and leave them to stand at room temperature for another 30-45 minutes to rise again.
While the knots are proving, heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Make the cardamom syrup by heating the water, sugar and ground cardamom in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
When the buns are puffy, brush them with a little almond milk, then bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Brush the baked buns with the cardamom syrup as soon as they come out of the oven, then leave them to cool on a wire rack.
These cardamom knots are at their best when eaten on the day they are baked, but they will happily keep in a sealed container for up to three days.
They also freeze well and can be kept in a sealed freezer container for up to two months. Defrost them at room temperature, then refresh them for 5 minutes in the oven before serving.