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baking breakfast

cardamom sugar buns

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I know that food isn’t a cure all, even though in bleak moments it may feel that way. There are days when everything is just out of reach, when turning on the news or reading headlines sends my head spinning; knowing of so many people struggling everywhere. And here I am, obsessing about the little things: is my cardamom fresh enough? is my kitchen big enough? is anyone reading this?I spend the morning with my daughter rolling out puff pastry, while war and rumors of war whisper out of every media outlet in the background. I tune it out. My world is centered in our little home, and my heart belongs to three beautiful people. But there are days, like this one, where it seems we are just gathering for ourselves here, even though there are so many sugar buns to spare. As we measure out a rectangle I am questioning our movements, asking myself, is there really time for making cakes? and baking bread?

We continue with the buns. My daughter has questions about all the layers of butter, which she helped me fold and turn the day before. We sprinkle the sugar together, smelling the cardamom on our hands. She shifts her face, hiding so I can’t see her licking the sweet and the spice off her fingers, but she spins back quickly; her face and lips lit up with tiny white sparkles. Words from earlier this week sweep through me: ‘Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy’.* I am quietly shaken, but interrupted. My daughter asks me if we can give them away, if we can share our sugar buns when they are baked. I meet her eyes, comforted by her sincere delight, her small hands outstretched in giving. Yes, I tell her, we can.

*the quote is from Joseph Campbell. 

cardamom sugar buns

The cardamom sugar buns are slightly adapted from Seven Spoons’ ‘Sugar Buns’ recipe. Because I didn’t change that much the original recipe, I am not including it here, just notes on my changes. To view the recipe, please go here. I am smitten with Seven Spoons, and if you haven’t visited there, please do. It’s a lovely lovely space. And these sugar buns? I am totally in love with these buns – they are perfection. Sweet, but not too sweet, flaky, but perfectly gooey in the very center. They are a special treat.
The original recipe uses a quick, whole wheat pastry danish dough, but I used SaraBeth Levine’s danish dough, from her cookbook From My Hands To Yours. Making danish dough can be a complicated affair, and I found this little picture tutorial at Not Without Salt that you can look at, if you’d like to go that route. I didn’t change much from the original recipe, only omitted zest and some spices, making these completely cardamom. I used 1 teaspoon cardamom in the filling, and another 1/2 teaspoon mixed in with the final dusting sugar.
  • Reply
    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 2:15 am

    How absolutely lovely…both your words and the cardamom sugar buns.

  • Reply
    london bakes
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Oh I love that quotation, it’s the only way to live really.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I get days like that too. Why dwell in the kitchen when there is so much LIFE outside to handle? At some point, like you, I realized that dwelling in the kitchen was a way of pursuing all of those urgent other things. New perspective, staying in the light and moving onward.

    Also, sugar buns look lovely. Does anything you bake turn out bad?! Didn’t think so 🙂

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      Laura! I do have bad baking days, ha. And yes, the kitchen is quite a place. There is good reasons to be there.

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Mmm pure deliciousness! Love it!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Sarah this post is absolutely beautiful. Both the words and the pictures. I don’t yet have children but cannot wait to share those simple moments of joy with them when they do come along. Reading this made me feel wonderfully calm (despite the horrors of the world around us).

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how happy this comment made me. {thank you for your constant encouragement! I really appreciate you.}

  • Reply
    Elaina @ Flavour
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Oh Sarah, you inspire me every to be a better person and think joyfully. You make me smile. Beautiful post. Beautiful quote. Have a beautiful day! x

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks Elaina. Your words mean so much to me. I hope your day is beautiful, too. 😉

  • Reply
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    what a lovely, lovely post! and those buns. i cannot get enough of cardamom!

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you Holly! I am slightly obsessed with cardamom.

  • Reply
    ilana freddye
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    these look really lovely!

  • Reply
    art and lemons
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Beautifully said and photographed, Sarah! Lately, I’m drawn to simple recipes and life outside the kitchen and relate to what you wrote. There is time, time for being both in and out of the kitchen with puff pastry, cinnamon buns, and whatever else brings us all together in a moment.

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Thank you so much, Nikki! And well said: ‘whatever else brings us all together in a moment’. I like that.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I think it’s natural to wonder what your bigger purpose might be, especially in light of everything that happens in the world around us, every day. But I think that these joyful moments, with our families, our friends, our kitchens, the bounty of ingredients we are so lucky to have, are meant to be enjoyed. There will always be sorrow, but we must find joy in our everyday lives.

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      Yes! They are meant to be enjoyed, I agree. It’s hard to always find balance, I think, between giving and receiving, and joy and sorrow. I’m working on it. 😉

  • Reply
    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Such beautiful little buns. I wish I were taught to make Danish Dough at that age. You definitely touch on things that run through my mind all the time — the potential frivolity of what I do given the state of the world around me. Like you say, though, it all comes down to joy, and I love the quote. Cherish the time in the kitchen with your daughter!

  • Reply
    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Beautiful. And oh, the memories you’re bringing back! Making cinnamon rolls happily with my little daughter while waiting the birth of her little sister. It was such a joy that we made another batch. And another. And another. This thin mom put on nine pounds that month, and when the doctor scolded, we made him a batch: take that!

    And that older daughter, now 30, loves to bake too.

  • Reply
    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    From start to finish this is a thougtful and beautiful post. Thanks for coming back again and again and sharing.

  • Reply
    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Oh lord, these look amazing!

    And I am a firm believer that it is indeed the little things that ground and make us whole. The world spins and turns in sometimes incomprehensible ways, but being in the kitchen always brings back to me what’s important. This is beautiful.

  • Reply
    Russell at Chasing Delicious
    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    These guys look so good. I love their cute size and the cardamom… and everything else about them ; ). Yum!

  • Reply
    Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes
    Monday, June 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    The buns look delicious and your pictures go so well with your very talented written post! I get the same feeling so often, being so immersed in my own world (food has a way of doing that) that I feel I´m not being aware of my surroundings enough.
    Your blog is a new discovery and every aspect of it (the words, the pictures, the colors) has a good effect on me. So nice to spend a little part of my week here!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 4:26 am

    There are ao many things I love about this post. Of course I love the the beautiful delicious looking buns. Your daughter is just adorable. The pictures are so fantastic and so touching. And I LOVE that you quoted Joseph Campbell. Love.

  • Reply
    Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Is cardamom a taste similar to ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon? Just wondering, because I might make these to find out what it tastes like… Thanks, love the looks of them! ~

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I just bought a bottle of cardamon for a blueberry crumb cake and was hoping to find another recipe I would make that uses it..THANKS!!

  • Reply
    Monday, November 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Cherish these times in the home with your children while they’re young, when they want to still be there. Mine are too busy now, my kitchen is a dark lonely place.

    • Reply
      Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Lisa – thanks for the reminder. I’m sorry the kitchen is lonely for you now. Sending some good vibes your way, and the hope that it will be a place of joy again in the future for you. Much love.

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