Cardamom rolls glazed with simple syrup

Cardamom Rolls

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I’m no stranger to making an enriched sourdough dough, spreading on a filling, rolling it up, and then enjoying the delicious outcome. But these sourdough cardamom rolls take a decidedly delicious detour at a few places along the way. First, I’ve added a small bit of cardamom directly to the dough for enhanced flavor and aroma. Next, the dough has a yudane (similar to tangzhong) mix-in for added tenderness. Finally, these indulgent cardamom rolls aren’t topped with icing, but rather, a cardamom-infused simple syrup for a shiny and not-too-sweet twist.

If I were to create a hierarchy defined by the level of enrichments (eggs, butter, sugar) amongst my sourdough babka, brioche-style cinnamon rolls, and these cardamom rolls, these rolls would be at the bottom of the ladder. Why? These rolls have significantly less egg, butter, and sugar than my cinnamon rolls and a smidgen less than my babka, but the secret here is the yudane: it brings tenderness without adding fat (egg, milk, or butter).

Incredibly light and airy interior
A beautifully light interior when proofed sufficiently.

Cardamom is a spice I seldom use, but it’s one that brings a luxurious aroma and a sweet punch. Like many spices, I find it can be overpowering when used in high quantity, but it also depends on whether your cardamom is freshly prepared in a mortar and pestle or already ground cardamom in a bottle. Fresh cardamom certainly has a stronger flavor than the two. I use ground cardamom in this recipe and have it included in the dough, the filling, and the simple syrup itself. If you’re using freshly ground cardamom, you might want to consider reducing the amount mixed into the dough.

Let’s dig into the flour I use in this recipe and what yudane brings into the mix (couldn’t resist 🙂).

Flour Selection and Yudane (Similar to Tangzhong)

This recipe will work well with any all-purpose flour or medium-protein bread flour (11-12% protein). The dough is on the stiffer side before the butter is added, so if you’re using a higher protein white flour or one that’s especially absorbent, you might need to adjust with an added dash of milk.

Read the guide to what butter does to bread dough for a deeper look at its effect.

Yudane (tangzhong) ready for mixing
Left: yudane ready for mixing. Right: ingredients in dough mix.

To add extra tenderness to these cardamom rolls, I add a pre-gelatinized flour mixture called yudane. Compared to tangzhong, which calls for actively cooking flour and milk over the stove, yudane calls for boiled water to be poured over the flour, and then the mixture is stirred until it thickens. It’s a straightforward way to make the mixture, taking only minutes, and it adds a distinctly “shreddy” texture to these rolls.

I opted for yudane in this recipe for two reasons: 1) I don’t have to take any of the milk from the main mix to make the yudane, and 2) it’s incredibly easy, and easy is good.

Let’s look at the baking schedule.

Cardamom rolls baking timeline

Baking Schedule

I spread making these rolls over two days. The first day goes all the way up to shaping and cutting. Once cut, place the pieces in their baking pan, cover, and retard overnight. This way, you can take them out in the morning to finish proofing and bake them fresh for breakfast or brunch.

Baking Equipment

Pan choice: USA Pan 8-inch square pan.

My goal for these cardamom rolls was to have fewer, larger rolls packed tight in a pan. To that end, I used my 8 x 8-inch square USA Pan, which has a natural nonstick liner. If you want to make more, smaller rolls, cut them smaller and use a larger pan. If you’re not using a nonstick pan, I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper.

Deliciously sweet cardamom glaze
Cardamom rolls glazed with cardamom simple syrup.

Cardamom Rolls Formula

For tips on how to calculate baker’s percentages or how to modify this sourdough cardamom rolls formula, check out my guide to baker’s percentages (baker’s math).

Total Dough Weight1,200 grams
Sourdough starter in final dough30.00%
YieldNine large cardamom rolls (baked in an 8 x 8″ square pan)

Total Dough Formula

Desired dough temperature: 76°F (24°C).

WeightIngredientBaker’s Percentage
101gYudane: All-purpose flour (~11% protein, King Arthur Baking All-Purpose)20.00%
106gYudane: Water, boiled21.00%
404gAll-purpose flour (~11.7% protein, King Arthur Baking All-Purpose)80.00%
136gButter, unsalted and at room temperature27.00%
131gMilk, whole26.00%
25gSugar, caster5.00%
3gCardamom, ground0.60%
152gSourdough starter30.00%
Total yield: 237.30%, 1200g.

Cardamom Rolls Filling

Make this filling when your dough is chilling in the fridge. Be sure to give it enough time to let the melted butter slightly cool.

30gButter, unsalted and melted
90gBrown sugar
2g (1 teaspoon)Cinnamon, ground
1g (1/2 teaspoon)Cardamom, ground
Total yield: 157g.

Cardamom Simple Syrup

Instead of topping these sourdough cardamom rolls with icing (which you totally could, if you wanted), I opt for a cardamom-infused simple syrup.

100gSugar, granulated (don’t waste your superfine caster sugar here; use any granulated white sugar)
2g (1 teaspoon)Cardamom, ground
Total yield: 147g.
Cardamom roll crumb
Cardamom roll interior is “shreddy” and very light.

Cardamom Rolls Method

1. Pre-cook Flour (Yudane) – 8:00 a.m.

Be sure to make this yudane ahead of time to give it time to cool before mixing. The texture of the mixture seems to improve if left to rest for at least one hour.

Do ahead: Alternatively, you could make the yudane the night before, let it cool, then cover and place it in the fridge. The next morning, let it warm to room temperature before mixing it into your dough.

101gAll-purpose flour

Boil the water and pour it over the flour in a small heat-proof mixing bowl. Stir or whisk until the mixture tightens up and all dry bits are incorporated. Let the pre-gelatinized flour cool on the counter until you mix the main dough.

2. Mix – 9:00 a.m.

Because I used a KitchenAid stand mixer to quickly and efficiently mix, and because I’m not looking for added extensibility, I decided against using an autolyse for this enriched dough.

200gYudane (from above)
404gAll-purpose flour
136gButter, unsalted and at room temperature
131gMilk, whole
25gSugar, caster
3gCardamom, ground
152gSourdough starter
Dough mix.

First, take out your butter and cut it into 1/2″ pats. Set the butter on a plate to warm to room temperature and reserve until the end of mixing.

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the milkflour, sourdough starter, eggssugaryudane, cardamom, and salt. Mix on speed 1 (STIR on a KitchenAid) for 1 to 2 minutes until the ingredients come together. Increase the mixer speed to speed 2 (2 on a KitchenAid) and mix for 6 to 7 minutes until the dough starts to strengthen and clump around the dough hook.

This dough doesn’t need to be fully developed in the mixer, but it’s better to mix longer than shorter—you want a strong dough before adding the butter. It won’t completely remove from the bottom of the bowl, and it will still be shaggy, but the majority of the dough should clump up around the dough hook.

Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 10 minutes.

Your butter should now be at room temperature; a finger will easily slide in and leave an impression. Turn the mixer on to speed 1 and add the butter, one pat at a time, waiting to add each pat until the previous one is fully absorbed. Adding all the butter could take around 5 to 8 minutes.

Cardamom rolls at end of mixing
Dough at end of mixing and start of bulk fermentation.

As you can see above, the sourdough cardamom rolls dough is soft but mostly smooth and holding its shape at the end of mixing. The dough will be further strengthened through stretch and folds during bulk fermentation. Transfer your dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.

3. Bulk Fermentation – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

At a warm room temperature, around 76°F (24°C), bulk should take about 3 hours. If your kitchen is cooler, place the pan to rise in a small dough proofer, or extend bulk fermentation as necessary.

Give this dough three sets of stretch and folds (see my guide on how to stretch and fold sourdough) during bulk fermentation at 30-minute intervals. The first set starts after 30 minutes from the start of bulk fermentation. For each set, wet your hands, grab one side and stretch it up and over the dough to the other side. Rotate the bowl 180° and perform another stretch and fold (this forms a long rectangle in the bowl). Then, rotate the bowl 90° and do another stretch and fold. Finally, turn the bowl 180° and do one last stretch and fold. You should have the dough neatly folded up in the bowl.

After the third set, let the dough rest, covered, for the remainder of bulk fermentation.

4. Chill Dough – 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

At this point, your dough should have risen in your bulk container, be puffy to the touch, and have smoothed out. If the dough still feels dense and tight, give it another 15 minutes and check again.

Place your covered bulk fermentation container in the refrigerator for at least one hour to fully chill the dough.

5. Roll and Shape – 1:30 p.m.

Before removing your dough from the refrigerator, make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, combine the following. It may seem like it’s not enough filling to cover the entire surface of the dough—spread it thin.

30gButter, unsalted and melted
90gBrown sugar
2g (1 teaspoon)Cinnamon, ground
1g (1/2 teaspoon)Cardamom, ground
Cardamom and Cinnamon filling.
Chilled sourdough cardamom roll dough
Sourdough cardamom rolls dough fully chilled and ready for rolling.

Above is my dough at the end of bulk fermentation and after the 1 hour in the refrigerator. The dough should be cold and firm to the touch; give it more time to chill if necessary.

Next, butter your baking pan (even if it’s nonstick) to ensure the rolls remove cleanly after baking. My 8 x 8-inch nonstick pan has never had issues, but I still lightly butter the pan just in case.

This dough is very soft. Act quickly to roll, spread the filling, and cut before the dough warms and softens further. If it begins to soften, place it in the fridge to firm.

Remove your bulk fermentation container from the fridge, lightly flour your work surface in a large rectangle shape, and the top of the dough in the bowl. Then, gently scrape out the dough to the center of your floured rectangle. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 15″ x 15″ square.

Cardamom and cinnamon filling spread on dough
Spreading on the cardamom and cinnamon filling.

As shown above, use a small offset spatula or your hands to spread on the cardamom and cinnamon filling evenly. It may look and feel like not enough filling, but there’s plenty when the dough is rolled up.

Rolling up sourdough cardamom rolls
Tightly roll up dough with filling.
Cut sourdough cardamom roll
Cut the tube into nine pieces, each 1 1/2″.

Starting at one of the long sides of the rectangle in front of you, begin rolling up the dough as you move across. Be sure to tightly roll the dough by gently tugging on the dough as you roll.

Once finished rolling up the dough, divide it into nine 1 1/2″ pieces using a sharp knife. Transfer the pieces to the prepared baking pan and cover with a large, reusable bag.

6. Cold Proof – 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (Overnight)

Sourdough cardamom dough before proof
Shaped sourdough cardamom rolls, heading into the refrigerator until the next day.

As you can see above, the nine cut pieces are placed into the square pan, ready for their overnight proof in the refrigerator. Also noticeable is how soft the dough is—it’s ok if they’re not neatly placed into the pan. As they rise, they’ll fill the nooks and crannies.

Place the covered pan into the refrigerator and proof overnight.

7. Warm Proof – 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (next morning)

In the morning, take the pan out of the refrigerator about three to four hours before you want to bake the rolls, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

Be sure to start preheating your oven about 30 minutes before you feel the rolls will be fully proofed. For me, the final warm proof time was about 3 hours in my 77°F (25°C) proofer, so I started preheating around 9:30 a.m.

8. Bake – 10:00 a.m.

Preheat your oven, with a rack in the middle, to 400°F (200°C).

Fully proofed sourdough cardamom rolls
Fully proofed sourdough cardamom rolls. Super soft and light, texture almost like whipped mousse.

After the warm proof, uncover your dough and gently press the tops of a few rolls. As you can see above, the fully proofed cardamom rolls will look very soft. The texture of the dough will be almost like a whipped mousse. Be sure to give them extra time in warm proof if necessary. If the dough needs more time to proof, cover the pan and give the dough another 15 to 30 minutes at a warm temperature and check again.

Once your oven is preheated, remove your pan from its bag, slide it into the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

While your rolls are baking, prepare the simple syrup. Combine the following in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from the heat and let cool until ready to use. You will have some leftover syrup.

100gSugar, granulated
2g (1 teaspoon)Cardamom, ground
Cardamom-infused simple syrup.

The rolls are finished baking when the tops are well-colored and the internal temperature is around 195°F (90°C). Remove the rolls from the oven and brush on the cardamom-infused simple syrup. Let the rolls cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan, then serve.

These are best the day they’re made, and certainly fresh from the oven, but can be reheated in a warm oven a day or two after.

These sweet, sticky, and utterly delicious cardamom rolls are sure to make any breakfast one to remember. A distinct cardamom aroma wafts through the kitchen when these are in the oven, an aroma that screams comfort and with it an acknowledgment that when these are finished baking, time will be spent indulging regardless of what might be next on the day’s calendar. I think these sourdough cardamom rolls successfully take the traditional cinnamon roll to a new place, somewhere a little less sweet (if you can believe it) and a little more tender, thanks to a little upfront time making the yudane.

Happy holidays and buon appetito!

P.S. Oh, and if you’re still looking for that perfect gift for the baker in your life, check out my bread baker’s gift guide!

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Cardamom rolls glazed with simple syrup

Sourdough Cardamom Rolls

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  • Author: Maurizio Leo
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 9 large rolls
  • Cuisine: American
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Sticky, sweet (but not too sweet), and utterly delicious, these sourdough cardamom rolls use yudane—similar to tangzhong—to bring them extra tenderness. The cardamom-infused simple syrup is a different way to dress the typical roll and adds an added hint of sweetness with a captivating aroma.


Pre-cooked Flour (Yudane)

  • 101g all-purpose flour
  • 106 water


  • 404g all-purpose flour
  • 136g butter, unsalted and at room temperature
  • 131g milk, whole
  • 131g eggs
  • 25g sugar, caster
  • 3g cardamom, ground
  • 10g salt
  • 152g sourdough starter


  • 30g butter, unsalted and melted
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 2g (1 tsp) cinnamon, ground
  • 1g (1/2 tsp) cardamom, ground

Cardamom-infused Simple Syrup

  • 100g sugar, granulated
  • 45g water
  • 2g (1 tsp) cardamom, ground


  1. Pre-cook flour, yudane (8:00 a.m.)
    Add the flour listed in the Pre-cooked Flour (Yudane) section to a small heat-proof mixing bowl. Boil the water and pour it over the flour in the bowl. Stir or whisk until the mixture tightens up and all dry bits are incorporated. Let the pre-gelatinized flour cool on the counter until mixing.
  2. Mix (9:00 a.m.)
    Cut the butter into 1/4″ pats and let warm to room temperature while mixing the ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the milk, flour, sourdough starter, eggs, sugar, yudane, cardamom, and salt. Mix on speed 1 to 2 minutes until incorporated. Increase the speed to 2 and mix for 5 to 6 minutes until the dough begins to clump around the dough hook (but not completely). Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Turn the mixer on to speed 1 and add the butter, one pat at a time, waiting to add each until the previous is absorbed. Continue until all the butter is added and the dough is shiny and smooth; this could take around 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Bulk fermentation (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
    Transfer the mixed dough to a bulk container and let ferment for 3 hours at 75ºF (23°C). Perform 3 sets of stretch and folds at 30-minute intervals.
  4.  Chill dough (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
    Place the covered bulk fermentation container into the fridge for at least 1 hour to thoroughly chill.
  5. Shape rolls (1:30 p.m.)
    First, make the filling. In a bowl, mix the filling ingredients and set aside. Next, take out your dough from the fridge, lightly flour your work surface and the dough, and roll out to a 15×15″ square with a long side closest to your body. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. roll the dough up away from you into a tight log. Cut the log into 9 pieces, about every 1 1/2″. Transfer the cut pieces to a baking pan with space around each one and cover.
  6. Cold Proof (2:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.)
    Place the covered pan into the refrigerator to proof overnight.
  7. Warm Proof (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.)
    The next morning, take the pan out of the refrigerator 3 hours before you want to bake the cardamom rolls and let the dough proof on the counter or in a warm proofer.
  8. Bake (10:00 a.m.)
    Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Slide the rolls into the oven once preheated and bake for 30-35 minutes. While your rolls are baking, prepare the simple syrup. Combine the simple syrup ingredients in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from the heat and let cool until ready to use. You will have some leftover syrup. When the rolls are finished baking, remove the oven, spread the glaze on the rolls’ tops, and let cool in the pan.


This recipe uses pre-ground cardamom. If you’re using freshly ground cardamom, you might need to reduce the amount in the dough, filling, and/or glaze.

If you use this recipe, tag @maurizio on Instagram so I can take a look!

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Maurizio Leo
Maurizio Leo is a home baker, James Beard Award winning and New York Times Bestselling author, and the creator of the award-winning sourdough website, The Perfect Loaf. He has spent the past decade baking sourdough bread in Albuquerque, New Mexico.