I don’t think I’m even going to say anything more because what more do you need to know? Cardamom. Lemon. Sticky. Buns.
They’re just what you’re imagining. Buttery, soft and fragrant cardamom bread dough swirled with a bright, tangy, sticky lemon filling. Add a cup of strong coffee (maybe a mimosa). Perfection.
It may be too late to make these for Christmas morning breakfast, but you could still bake them up for a New Year’s Day brunch. And then Easter. And then Mother’s Day. And then because it’s the weekend. Keep the recipe in your back pocket because you’ll want to break them out often.
- For the bun dough:
- ¾ cups whole milk, just warm to the touch
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
- 3 cups all purpose flour (plus more as needed)
- For the filling and glaze:
- ⅔ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 3 large lemons)
- 4 tablespoons very soft butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (replace 1 Tbs. with bourbon if you want a lemon-bourbon glaze - and don't you think you do?)
- 1½ cup powdered sugar (or enough to make a glaze consistency)
- For the buns: Combine the warm milk, melted butter, and ⅓ cup sugar in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the yeast and let it sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. Then, stir in the salt, cardamom, and beaten egg.
- Stir in the flour, adding as much as needed to get a dough that feels sticky to the touch but doesn't actually stick inexorably to your fingers. Knead the dough in a mixer with a bread hook for about 6 minutes or by hand on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Proceed with making the filling and assembling as instructed below.
- While the bun dough is rising, mix together the granulated sugar and lemon zest and set aside. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans (or a 9X13 pan). After the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and on a lightly floured surface roll it into a large rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Spread the dough rectangle with the soft butter, then sprinkle it evenly with the sugar-zest mixture.
- Roll the rectangle up lengthwise into a long jellyroll. Slice it with a sharp serrated knife into 1-inch thick pieces. Arrange the pieces in the prepared baking pans, leaving a little space around them for them to rise and grow. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about another hour. Or, put the rolls in the refrigerator to slowly rise overnight. Take them out in the morning. If they haven't risen much in the fridge, let them come to room temperature and give them a little time to rise.
- When the rolls are almost finished rising, heat your oven to 350F. Bake the rolls in the oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Take them out and allow them to cool most of the way before drizzling with the glaze.
- To make the glaze, whisk together the lemon juice (and bourbon, if using) with powdered sugar until it reaches glaze consistency. Drizzle over the sticky buns. These buns are by far the best eaten the day they're made, though they rewarm relatively well. If you want to keep them longer, you can take them as soon as they've cooled to room temperature, wrap them well in tinfoil and stick them in the freezer. Let them defrost at room temperature and gently rewarm them in the oven before serving.