Orange & Cardamom Knots

Since we’re still waiting for the weather to warm up here in Wales (it still feels like autumn as opposed to spring), I’ve not had an opportunity to bake with much fresh or colourful ingredients yet. Most things are a little behind this year, so I’m still relying quite heavily on the spice rack. A worthy substitute in the interim, whilst I await the arrival of the first blackcurrants & strawberries of the season.

Orange & Cardamom Knots

Luckily we do have citrus fruits though (even if they aren’t homegrown) & oranges are one of my favourites (obviously). They get me through the long winter months, bringing not only zest & colour but filling enough jars of marmalade to see me through another 12 months. We’ve always got oranges in the house & one gloomy, rainy weekend we probably had too many that needed using & I had an urge to get stuck into some dough.

Orange & Cardamom Knots

Something about the rain & the cold always makes me want to make some kind of bread. I love the subtle flavour that adding a little zest & spice can bring to a sweet dough, I wouldn’t dare make a hot cross or Chelsea bun without a pinch of mixed spice, zest or cardamom. Not only three of the most reached for bits in my pantry but also ingredients that pair perfectly with one another.

Orange & Cardamom Knots

In these sweet & zesty buns, I’ve paired the freshness of orange zest with the fruity, zesty, piney flavours of cardamom & they work a treat. Neither is overpowering but instead work together to bring a subtle but sweet flavour to the dough that leaves you wanting more. I’ve shaped these into pretty little knots shapes, similar to the Swedish cardamom buns, just minus the pearl sugar & with a little orange twist.

Orange & Cardamom Knots

ORANGE & CARDAMOM KNOTS
(makes 6 buns)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 350g strong while flour
  • 7g dried fast acting yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 90g butter
  • 180ml milk
  • Zest of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 75g butter
  • 80g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cardamom

For the syrup glaze:

  • 40g caster sugar
  • 40ml orange juice

Method:

For the dough:

  • Add the milk & butter to a small saucepan & gently heat until the butter has melted (or you can do this in the microwave) set aside to cool until just lukewarm
  • In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, salt, orange zest & sugar (be sure to place the salt & sugar on the opposite side of the bowl to the yeast)
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the milk mixture
  • Stir until the mixture is well combined & a dough is formed (you many not need all of the milk mixture, or add a little more milk if your dough feels a bit dry)
  • Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface & knead for 10 minutes (or for 5 minutes using a dough hook in a stand mixer) until it is smooth & elastic
  • Shape the dough into a ball shape & place back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm or a bag for life & leave to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size
  • Once your dough has risen, tip it out onto a floured work surface & knock back the dough (knead out the air)
  • Roll or stretch your dough out into a rectangle, roughly 20x30cm in size (so long as rectangular don’t worry too much)

For the filling:

  • For the filling, simply soften the butter in a small bowl before beating together with the sugar & cardamom until light & fluffy
  • Take spoonfuls of the filling & dollop it all over the dough
  • Use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the filling all over two thirds of the length of dough, going right up to the edges but leaving one third uncovered

To shape & bake:

  • Next, take the short edge of the uncovered third of dough & fold it over the middle third of dough (picture your dough as three rectangles)
  • Now take the last third (covered) of dough & fold it over the last piece you folded piece to line up with the edge of dough (creating 3 layers of dough)
  • Lightly use a rolling pin or your hands to flatten & stretch out the dough a little
  • Use a sharp knife to cut out 6 equal sized strips of dough (along the width of the dough)
  • With each strip of dough & make two cuts from the bottom of the length of dough almost to the top so that each strip now has 3 strips, all still attached at one end
  • Use the 3 smaller strips to plait the dough, then use your hand to wrap the plait around your finger & attach both end together (repeat for all strips)
  • Either place your buns onto a parchment lined baking sheet or into a 6 cup muffin tin
  • Cover with cling film, a tea towel, or (my preference) place inside a bag for life & leave to prove for 45 minutes – 1 hour until doubled in size
  • When proved bake the buns in the oven at 190C for 15 – 20 minutes, until beautifully browned

For the glaze:

  • Whilst the buns are baking, make the syrup by placing the sugar & orange juice in a small saucepan set over a low heat
  • Gently heat the mixture until all of the sugar has dissolved
  • Then bring the mixture to a boil before reducing to medium heat & bubbling away until the mixture starts to become syrupy (around 5 minutes)
  • Once baked, remove the orange & cardamom knots from the oven & brush all over with the syrup whilst still hot before setting aside to cool

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