It has been a while that I shared a recipe that involved a yeast dough. Today I like to introduce you to a recipe of sweet buns filled with a vanilla custard which is a Swedish classic. These vanilla buns are called krämbullar or vaniljbullar in Swedish. Bullar mean buns in Swedish (singular is bulle), kräm means cream and vanilj - you can probably guess - means vanilla.
I make kanelbullar which are another Swedish classic - my blog post about these delicious buns is here - every week and there are always a few bullar in my freezer but I do not make vaniljbullar on a regular basis. This has changed a bit since I rediscovered my love for vaniljbullar about a month ago and now I have to restrain myself of not making these buns too often.
There is nothing more comforting than a soft and fluffy yeast bun with a creamy vanilla custard in the middle of the bun. The yeast dough is flavored with a hint of cardamon which is a very common spice in Swedish baking. Sometimes lots of cardamon is added to the buns which I think can be overpowering. I prefer the subtle taste of cardamon in the vanilla buns.
These Swedish vanilla buns are a wonderful way to welcome the fall season which is approaching fast. They will fill your home with an irresistible and comforting smell on chillier fall days.
YeastThere are different kinds of yeast available. For instance you can use active dry yeast, instant active dry yeast or fresh yeast.
I personally prefer using fresh yeast. In Sweden there are even two types of fresh yeast: one for bread and one for sweet bread. A while ago I learnt that fresh yeast is not common or available in every country. I was not aware of this fact and I will update the recipes on my blog that involves yeast and convert the amount of fresh yeast to dry yeast. In my recipe direction below I explain how to use each type of yeast.
CardamonCardamon is one of the most expensive spices (saffron is the most expensive spice, followed by vanilla and cardamon). You can buy cardamon pods or cardamon powder. Cardamon seeds that are grounded looses its flavor quickly, so ground or cardamon powder that you buy has less flavor.
For baking I don't mind the less cardamon flavor (in cooking I prefer cardamon pods) and I use cardamon powder that I buy at the spice store.
If you only have cardamon pods on hands you can, of course, also make your own cardamon powder. Crush the cardamon pod (use green cardamon) and remove the seeds from the shell. Place the seeds with a little bit of sugar in a mortar and pound the seeds with a pestle until you have a powder. You do not need to add sugar but I think it makes it easier to ground the cardamon seeds.
Makes 14 vanilla buns
- 30 g fresh yeast / 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast / 3 1/2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
- 50 g / 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 200 ml / 3/ 4 cup and 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 75 g / 1/3 cup and granulated and 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamon powder
- 375 g / 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 30 g / 2 large egg yolks
- 45 g / 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 15 g / 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 125 ml / 1/2 cup whole milk
- 10 g / 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 40 g / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 40 g / 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Crumble the fresh yeast into a big bowl.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add milk. The mixture should be lukewarm. This is really important because otherwise the yeast will "die" and the dough won't rise.
- Add little bit of the milk mixture (about two tablespoons) to the crumbled yeast and stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the remaining milk mixture, sugar, salt and cardamon and mix until well combined.
- Add most of the flour (set aside about two tablespoons) and stir with a big. preferable wooden, spoon until the dough comes together.
Active dry yeast
- Heat the milk until it is lukewarm. Mix the dry yeast with two tablespoons of lukewarm milk in a mug. Melt the butter in the remaining lukewarm milk.
- Mix sugar, salt, cardamon, dissolved yeast mixture and butter-milk mixture. Add most of the flour (set aside about two tablespoons) and stir with a big. preferable wooden, spoon until the dough comes together.
Instant active dry yeast
- The yeast does not have to be dissolved in any liquid.
- Melt butter and add milk to it, set aside.
- Mix most of the flour (set aside two tablespoons), dry yeast, sugar, salt, cardamon. Add butter-milk mixture and stir with a big. preferable wooden, spoon until the dough comes together.
- Place the yeast dough onto a well-floured surface and knead the dough until smooth. If the dough is too sticky add more flour to the dough.
- Place the dough into a big bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a draft-free and warm place. I place my bowl in the oven and switch the the oven to 40°C / 100 °F (make sure that the oven is not too hot). Let the dough rise until it has roughly doubled in size which takes about 30 to 45 minutes. It depends on how warm or cold your place is.
- In the meantime prepare the vanilla custard.
- Pour milk into a saucepan.
- Split vanilla pod lenghtwise and scrape out the seeds (use the tip of your knife or the dull side of the knife). Add the vanilla seeds and the empty vanilla pod to the milk. Bring vanilla milk to a soft simmer. Set aside and remove the empty vanilla pod.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar until well combined, then add corn starch and whisk until smooth. Slowly pour the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk.
- Pour the mixture back to the saucepan and over medium heat - whisk continuously - bring to a boil. You will notice that the custard thickens. Cook the custard for one minute, continue to stir. Now you should have a thick custard. Remove saucepan from the stove. Add butter cubes to the vanilla cream and stir until smooth. Place the vanilla custard into a flat bowl, cover the surface with clingwrap which prevents skin forming. Let cool completely. When the custard is completely cooled, fill it into a piping bag, no nozzle is needed. I place the piping bag into a very tall glass and then fill the bag. That is easier than holding the piping bag in one hand and trying to fill it with the other hand.
- Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead the dough again on a floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 14 pieces and form each piece of dough to a ball.
- Place balls onto the baking sheets. Make sure that there is enough space between each ball. Flatten each ball into a disc (they should look like big cookies). Cover each baking sheet with a kitchen towel. Let the buns rise again in a warm and draft-free place for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 225 °C / 440 °F.
- Gently press an indentation in the middle of each bun and pipe vanilla custard into the indentation.
- Bake the buns for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly golden in color.
- While the buns are still warm, brush the buns with melted butter and dip the edges of the buns into sugar.
- The vanilla buns taste the very best while still warm.
- You can also freeze the buns. I recommend freezing the buns in a freezable box (do not stock the buns on top of each other). Let the buns defrost at room temperature.