This is what days have felt like lately: dark, cold, gray, wet, freezing, dreary. I could go on, but we all know what November feels like. “A month full of cold, dark Mondays,” as an acquaintance referred to it recently.
For me, there’s only one solution to the problem of November: strong coffee and a warm baked good. Come to think about it, that’s my solution to most problems.
Cold weather calls for hearty food, and for lunch and dinner, that’s easy: lentil soups, roasted vegetables, etc. But it even goes for what you’re eating with your coffee and when it’s chilly out, I want something heavy and dense.
Buckwheat flour does just that, and has led to a current baking obsession. Scones, pizza dough, galettes, a dutch baby… I’ll put it into anything. Obsession verging on it-could-be-time-to-buy-bulk-kasha-and-make-buckwheat-flour-myself. (You can do that you know.)
But let’s get back to pairing baked goods and coffee.
I happen to have one favorite thing to eat with coffee: a classic Swedish kanelbulle. The Nordic cinnamon rolls are simple, and I prefer them when they are spiked with plenty of cardamom. So why not make them with buckwheat flour?
Since I have been in the midst of recipe testing for the next cookbook with Johanna, there has been a lot of regular flour and butter in the kitchen, which really only makes me want to do one thing: not bake with regular flour and butter. I have nothing against either – regular flour and butter certainly have their place – but sometimes all I want to do is concoct a gluten-free recipe that my vegan friends will get excited about. Plus, when you make a baked good with olive oil, you immediately feel some weird sense of success.
And so, I completely revamped my favorite coffee treat (by “revamped” I mean I actually just made a recipe up, but the inspiration counts for something).
Buckwheat flour and ground almonds as the base for the dough, and a filling of figs and dates that are so sweet on their own, you don’t need any additional sugar. Cold, rainy day? Make these. Going to someone’s for brunch? Bring these. Going on an outdoor excursion? Bring your warmest jacket, make these and take your thermos. November isn’t so bad after all.
Buckwheat Cardamom Rolls with Fig and Date Filling
Makes: About 15 rolls
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds + 3 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 cups (6.3 ounces/180 grams) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces/70 grams) raw almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) non-dairy milk
6 large medjool dates + 4 large dried figs (about 8 ounces/225 grams of dried fruit total)
1/4 cup (60 ml) non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Before you begin to make the dough, prep the dried fruit for the filling, by placing the dates (pitted of course!) and figs in a bowl and submerse them in water. Set aside while you prep the dough.
Place the yeast along with one teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Add in the war, water and stir a few times with a fork. Set aside for ten minutes until yeast has dissolved (it will bubble up and expand in the process)).
In a separate bowl, mix together the ground flaxseeds and three tablespoons warm water, and set aside to congeal for about 5 minutes.
In a food processor, finely grind the almonds and place them together in a large bowl with the buckwheat flour, tablespoon of sugar, salt and crushed cardamom seeds. Stir the ingredients until mixed together.
Once the flaxseeds have congealed, add in the olive oil and stir until well blended. Add mixture along with the yeast and non-dairy milk to the bowl with flour and stir together with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, then work it together for a few minutes with your hands. Form it into a ball, cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
To make the filling, drain the figs and dates and put in a food processor with the non-dairy milk and salt. Blend together until you get a smooth paste.
Dust a flat surface with a little buckwheat flour and roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 20- by 8-inches. The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the filling onto the bottom half of the dough and then fold the top half over. If it breaks, just mold it back together – this dough is very forgiving. Cut into strips about 1 1/2-inch thick and roll together into individual rolls.
Place the rolls on a greased baking sheet, or silicone baking mat, and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges start to get some color and the rolls feel firm. Remove from the oven and let cool. And eat one while they’re warm!
If you want to glaze them, mix a little bit of lemon juice with a tablespoon or so of powdered sugar.