Sweet Cardamom Rolls

Sweet Cardamom Rolls
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We can’t put enough emphasis on how much we love Bend, OR. It’s a small pocket of desert paradise filled with mountains, rivers, pine trees, food and beer.

We also love it because it is only a short three hour drive, making it one of our favorite weekend spots. And what would a weekend getaway be without consuming an absurd amount of delicious food? Despite the fact the our kids are young and spirited, we still make a point to eat out.

Warm and golden, there has yet to be a pastry that has compared.

Sweet Cardamom Rolls

We are not going to give you a full review on things to do in Bend, though that would be a great post. (Maybe summer 2015). No, we are just going to tell you about one place. One tiny little bakery that will keep us driving three hours for many years to come. This little gem is Sparrow Bakery.

Sweet Cardamom Rolls
Sweet Cardamom Rolls

Sparrow Bakery drew us in from the moment we saw it. Their quaint cafe is aesthetically pleasing and, of course, very kid friendly. We instantly found ourselves saying “I’ll take one of those, ooo and one of those, two of those.” and, “oh, can I get one of those to go?” All their pastries are made fresh each morning, including their house granola that is out of this world! However, the real star of the show is the Ocean Roll.

Sweet Cardamom Rolls

The Ocean Roll is a buttery croissant dough rolled with cardamom and sugar. Warm and golden, there has yet to be a pastry that has compared. This may sound a bit dramatic for a roll, but if you’ve tried one then you know what we’re talking about. So naturally, we had to take a stab at recreating them in our own kitchen. Nothing we came up with matches the inspiration, but we think we came pretty close.

Sweet Cardamom Rolls

We’ll be serving these along side our cinnamon rolls and chai tea come Christmas morning.

Sweet Cardamom Rolls

Sweet Cardamom Rolls

Serves 12


3 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp rapid-rise, instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices and chilled
1 cup sour cream, chilled
1/4 cup apple cider, chilled
3 tbsp ice water
1 egg yolk


1/2 cup granulated sugar, 4 tbsp reserved for sprinkling
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
1 egg, for wash


  1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large zip-lock-bag. Add the butter to the bag. Seal and shake several times with a rolling pin, shaking the bag after each roll, until the butter is pressed into large flakes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the sour cream, apple cider, water and egg yolk until combine.
  2. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth, cohesive ball. Roll the dough into a 20x12-inch rectangle. Starting at short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pat the cylinder flat into a 12x4-inch rectangle and transfer to a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the filling. Using a small, sharp knife split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix with the sugar in a small bowl. Once vanilla bean is evenly dispersed into the sugar set 4 tbsp aside. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin.
  4. Remove the dough from the freezer and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 20x12-inch rectangle and sprinkle evenly with the vanilla-sugar and crushed cardamom, leaving ½-inch border around the edges. Lightly press the sugar mixture into the dough. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch lightly to seal the seam. Trim ½-inch of dough from each end and discard. Cut the cylinder into 12 equal pieces and transfer cut side up to the prepared muffin tin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 200° F. Once the oven reaches temperature, turn it off, Remove the muffin tin from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place the rolls in the turned-off oven until puffed up and doubled in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the buns from the oven and heat the oven to 425° F.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the egg with 2 tbsp of water. Brush egg wash lightly over the rolls. Sprinkle remaining 4 tbsp sugar over the rolls. Once oven reaches 425° bake for 5 minutes ONLY. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F. Bake until the buns are deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes additional minutes. Allow the buns to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. The buns are best served warm, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Make Ahead: After placing the buns in the muffin tin, place the tin in the freezer until the buns are firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a zip-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To finish, return the buns to a muffin tin and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours, then proceed with step #5.

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking 2012