Lemon and cardamom sweet rolls hold a swirl of fragrant spices and bright lemon. They're a delicious treat for breakfast or afternoon snack.
How many of you like to bake or cook with cardamom?
This is not a spice that I grew up using or often finding in baked goods, but I do enjoy using it now. And I’ve noticed while watching my favorite, The Great British Baking Show, that the bakers in the iconic tent frequently incorporate cardamom into their creations.
At holiday time, when I set up a cocoa and eggnog station (cups, spoons, a jar of cocoa, marshmallows, etc.) I always include a little shaker of cardamom alongside one of cinnamon.
In this recipe cardamom is part of the buttery, sugary, lemony filling swirled inside sweet rolls. There’s a bit of cinnamon in there, too.
What does cardamom taste like?
It's not an easy spice to describe! I taste a bit of citrusy flavor at first, and then a wave of warm, spicy notes — but even that isn't enough to fully express the flavor. Spruce Eats describes it as, “citrusy, minty, spicy and herbal.” Tasting Table also describes cardamom as herbal, but adds that it has “notes of pine, yet something about it whispers sweet.”
I like that... the image of spices whispering their mysterious secrets to us.
You might recognize the flavor of cardamom as one of the spices in chai tea, and also in some curries. The spice is very popular in Scandinavian breads, rolls and pastries.
Why you'll love this recipe
Cardamom goes well with sweet and savory dishes, and in this sweet recipe it's very tasty blended with cinnamon and nutmeg.
After baking I like to flip the whole pan out onto a tray or cutting board. Why? Because some of the buttery, spicy filling melts to the bottom of the pan as the rolls bake. By flipping them out bottom side-up, you ensure that all of that filling stays with the rolls. Any drips left in the pan can be spooned over the tops.
These Lemon and Cardamom sweet rolls are sooo delicious with a cup of coffee or tea. Set them out for breakfast or as a snack.
🔪 How to make these sweet rolls
Step 1: Make the dough
Activate the yeast in warm milk, then stir in butter, sugar, and eggs. Add in flour to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough in a bowl and allow it to rise for 90 minutes.
Step 2: Make the filling
Stir together the sugar, spices, and lemon juice to make the filling for the rolls.
Step 3: Make the rolls
Roll out the dough in to a large rectangle, and spread softened butter over the surface. Sprinkle the lemon-sugar filling evenly over the top. Roll the dough into a cylinder, and then use a sharp knife to slice it into 12 rolls.
Step 4: Let the rolls rise
Place the rolls into a prepared baking dish, cover it, and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Bake!
Bake the rolls until they're browned and baked through. When the rolls are done, Flip them out of the pan onto a plate so that the bottoms are up.
Step 6: Add the glaze
Whisk together the ingredients for the sweet glaze, and drizzle it over the warm rolls. Enjoy!
- Every article you read about cardamom will warn you against going too heavy with it, and for good reason. Too much will give your dishes a taste more medicinal than pleasant. Trial and error brought me to two teaspoons in this recipe: enough that the taste comes through but stays in that citrusy sweet-spot!
- Ground cardamom found in the spice aisle, and is usually made from green cardamom pods. If your ground cardamom has been buried in your cabinet for years, get rid of it and buy some new. You might try to rationalize and say, "Oh I think there’s still some scent there." But, when you open and smell a fresh jar there’s no mistaking how strong and spicy it should be.
The recipe for Lemon and Cardamom Sweet Rolls is below, and if you want some other tempting treats to enjoy with a cuppa I have a few for you!
💬 How do you like these sweet rolls? Do you often bake with cardamom? Share your comment below!
Lemon & Cardamom Sweet Rolls
- 10 fluid ounces milk (1¼ cups)
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 8 tablespoons butter, unsalted and very soft, divided
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached plus extra for kneading
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (make sure your cardamom is not an old jar from years ago. It should have a nice, strong aroma!)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice, divided
- 1½ cups confectioner's sugar
Make the dough:
- Heat 1 cup of the milk in the microwave just until it is warm - not hot. Stir the yeast into the milk and allow it to sit and activate for 10 minutes.
- Pour this mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add in 4 tablespoons of the soft butter and ⅓ cup of the granulated sugar. Mix these ingredients together.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time and then the salt.
- Pour the 4 cups of flour into the bowl and mix it in until a wet sticky dough forms and there are no lumps of butter.
- Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto this surface and sprinkle the top with flour. Knead the dough for 10 minutes - a bench scraper is very handy in the beginning to help pull the sticky dough up and over. Sprinkle more flour over the dough and work surface as needed during kneading. After 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, still a little tacky, but firm.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 90 minutes at room temperature.
Make the filling:
- While the dough rises mix together in a small bowl the remaining granulated sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice until the mixture looks like wet sand.
Assemble the rolls:
- Have ready a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with the sides and bottom greased.
- After the first rising tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press it down to push out the air bubbles. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Then roll the dough out into a rectangle roughly 12 inches by 18 inches.
- Spread the remaining 4 tablespoons of soft butter over the rectangle, leaving an inch wide edge at the long sides.
- Sprinkle the sugar-spice filling over the butter distributing it evenly over the whole buttered area.
- Starting at a long edge. Roll the dough up into a cylinder, and pinch the seam together.
- Use a long, serrated knife to cut the cylinder into 12 equal pieces. (When using the knife resist the urge to press it into the dough. Instead draw it back and forth gently over the dough cylinder, lightly pushing it down as it cuts through so that the pieces are not compressed.)
- Place the 12 pieces into the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes in a room temperature spot.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake the rolls for 35-40 minutes - they'll be lightly browned over the tops.
- Have ready a platter or sheet large enough to hold the rolls. Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately flip the rolls over onto the waiting platter or sheet - so that the bottoms are now facing up. If any filling is still in the baking dish scrape it out over the hot rolls.
Add the sweet glaze:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup of milk, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the confectioner's sugar to make a thin glaze.
- Drizzle this glaze over the warm rolls, Slice the rolls apart and serve!
- Leftover rolls can be stored wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days.