Cooking Gluten-Free with Anna

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Swedish Cardamon Braid ~ Kardemummafläta

This is a true Swedish classic; a version of the traditional cinnamon bun recipe. Swedes inhale this sweet treat by the dozen, especially at Fika time. Fika is a wonderful past time and a social institution in Sweden. It means having a break, with friends, one's colleagues, date, or family. You can fika at work by taking a coffee break, fika at a Cafe, or just drink a cup of coffee, but it always including something to eat, such as cookies, cakes, typically a cinnamon roll, a freshly baked slice of cardamon braid, or a smörgås, an open-faced sandwich, and is central to Swedish life.

I love the smell of Cardamom! It has a strong and unique taste, and is very aromatic. It almost has a sweet smokey aroma.

It's a common ingredient in Indian cooking and is often used in Scandinavian baked goods; such as Finnish sweet bread Pulla, in Swedish Bullar, or Norwegian Julekake. In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as traditional flavouring in tea and coffee.

According to Wikipedia, Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight. It's best stored in pod form because once the seeds are exposed or ground they quickly lose their flavor. However, I purchase ground cardamom at the grocery store, since it is more readily available. When using whole cardamom pods; about 6-8 pods equals 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom.

Cardamon Braid ~ Kardemummafläta

Makes 1 braid


4 tbsp butter (or dairy-free soy-free, dairy-free vegetable shortening)

1 cup milk (or rice milk)

2 tsp dry yeast

2 tsp psyllium husks* (about psyllium, see below)

¼ cup sugar, plus 1 tsp for yeast liquid

½ tsp kosher salt

1 tsp guar gum

1 tsp gelatin, unflavored (or use vegan gelatin)

1 large egg, whisked (for egg substitute, see below)

1 tsp ground cardamom

2 ½ cups Anna's GF Cake Blend, plus 1/3 cup for rolling dough

3 tbsp pearl sugar* or raw sugar, for sprinkling

Egg wash:

1 large egg, whisked

1 tbsp water


12 tbsp butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

3 tsp cardamon


Melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the milk to the melted butter and heat until about 110-115 degrees F. Pour the heated liquid into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the yeast, psyllium husks, 1 tsp sugar and whisk together until yeast has dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof and activate the yeast. The liquid should expand.

Pour the yeast liquid into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar, salt, guar gum, gelatin, the whisked egg, cardamom, and gluten-free flour blend to the mixer. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl occasionally.

Sprinkle your work surface and hands with ample gluten-free flour mix. Don't scrimp on the flour, or your dough will stick to your board or counter. Turn out the dough onto the board, sprinkle with flour mix, pat down lightly.

Divide the dough into three equal-sized pieces. Flour your rolling pin. Take one piece of the dough, roll it into a long rectangle, 14 inches long and 12 inches wide. It should be about 1/4 inch thick.

Soften the butter by warming in the microwave for a few seconds. Spread a 1/3 of the butter evenly over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the dough evenly with 1/3 of the sugar and cardamon.

Gently roll the dough lengthwise into a log. You may need to use a spatula to help coax it to roll.

Put aside and proceed with the other two pieces of dough.

Place all three logs next to each other. Starting at one end, braid all three pieces together into one braid. Tuck each end under, forming a uniform braid.

Using a spatula and your hands, gently transfer the braid onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the braid rise in warm area of the kitchen for 1 hour.

During the last 20 minutes of the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove kitchen towel or plastic wrap from the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the braid with the egg wash. Sprinkle the pearl sugar (or raw sugar) on top of the braid.

Bake the braid for 20-23 minutes, or until golden brown in color.

Slide the parchment paper onto a wire cooling rack. Place a clean kitchen towel on top. Let the braid cool to room temperature before slicing. If you can wait that long...

Have yourself a Fika break!

*Psyllium husks are the same as Metamusil, which is gluten-free. Get the unflavored variety. This adds fiber, texture and elasticity to the dough.

*For egg-free substitute, I recommend Ener-G egg replacer - 3 teaspoons egg replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons rice milk or water. Or use flaxseed meal - 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water, let sit for 10 minutes to thicken.

*Pearl Sugar can be found at IKEA stores. It can easily be substituted with turbino sugar, or sugar-in-the -raw. Another great option is to top the buns with chopped almonds before baking.

Anna's Gluten-Free Cake Flour Blend:

2 cups brown rice flour

2 cups white rice flour

1 cup potato starch/or corn starch

1 1/4 cups tapioca starch

Information about Cardamon if from


  1. Hi Anna! I just wanted to thank you for this recipe. My family is Swedish-American, and I have been unable to make my family's traditional cardamom bread with almond paste filling since eliminating gluten 2 years ago. I used your dough recipe and it worked perfectly!
    God Jul!

  2. Anna,

    I've been tasked to make GF lussekatter for our school's Santa Lucia festival. Yours is one of the recipes I am planning to adapt. Mostly planning to add cardamom and a little saffron to the dough but skip filling. Any other ideasor tips? Thank you!

  3. Thank you, Anna! Every Thanksgiving and Christmas my Aunt made cardamom bread and it was one of my favorite things. When I moved away from home, I had to learn to make it myself. When I went GF three years ago, I was forced to give up this favorite. Today I made your recipe and my heart is full. Finally, I can have my bread again.

  4. My heart is broken. I was so excited to find a gluten free cardamom bread, but my first attempt is a complete disaster. As I was making it, I thought it seemed like way to much butter in the filling (12 tablespoons!!), but I persisted. Well, now the bread is soup. Deciding whether to try again with less butter.

    1. Oh goodness. I hadn't noticed it said 12 T before. I bake cinnamon buns quite frequently, and when I followed the recipe, I only followed the recipe for the dough. I'm sure that I didn't put that much butter in the filling. I'm sure that is a typo.

  5. Hi Anna! I'm so excited to have found your recipe! Our local bakery is selling these in buns and they look so delicious, so I'm thrilled to try this! Questions for you - would it be possible to try an all purpose flour mix (gum-free) with this recipe? And can xantham gum be substituted for guar gum? Thanks! Alex