Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Cardamom-spiced sweet bread, braided with gooey cinnamon filling- what more could you ask for in a pastry? I'm not sure the origin of the enriched sweet bread base, but it came from a friends' mom, and paired with the cinnamon sugar filling of a traditional cinnamon roll it is just heaven. Just try to stop eating these buns-of-goodness.
For the vegan version of these knots, I think I've cracked the perfect combination of ingredients. Often vegan breads are dry or get hard too quickly, but a combination of soy milk and coconut milk bring the right amount of fat and protein to keep the crumb soft and a flax egg keeps the bread chewy. When Ben and I did a side-by-side taste test of the vegan buns and regular buns, it was nearly impossible to detect the difference.
Cardamom Cinnamon Knots [Vegan]
¾ c. soy milk
¼ c. coconut milk*
¼ c. vegan butter*
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp)
⅛ c. warm water, ~110-115°
1 tbs. ground flax/ flax meal
3 tbs. water
1 tsp. cardamom***
3 ¾ c. bread flour
1 c. brown sugar, packed
½ c. vegan butter*, softened
2 tsp. cinnamon
*For coconut milk: I always prefer to use coconut milk from a can (full fat) for baking
as opposed to the coconut milk from the "milk" section.
**For vegan butter: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks work really well
***For cardamom: Freshly ground is best (separate seed from husk and grind seed to
a powder using a spice grinder), if using pre-ground use a dash more
In a small saucepan, scald milks (meaning heat until just before boiling, when little bubbles start to form around the sides of the pan and usually a skin has started to form on the top of the milk).
Take the saucepan off of the heat and add vegan butter, sugar and salt. Stir to melt the butter and let the mixture cool to lukewarm (~100-115°, or comfortable to the touch).
While the milk mixture is cooling, make the flax egg and dissolve the yeast.
For flax egg: Stir 1 tbs. flax meal (freshly ground flax is best) with 3 tbs. water and let sit for at least 10 min.
For yeast: Sprinkle yeast in ⅛ c. warm (~110-115°) water and quickly mix with a fork to dissolve. Let soften and start to foam, about 5 minutes.
When the milk mixture has cooled, pour into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer and add yeast, flax egg, and cardamom.
Gradually stir in 3 ½ c. flour and mix well. If using a stand mixer, incorporate with a dough hook on medium speed.
Turn out the shaggy, wet dough onto a floured counter and start to knead in the remaining 1/2 c. flour gradually (alternatively, you can gradually add remaining flour in your stand mixer). You want to stop adding flour just when the dough stops being sticky. As you are kneading and adding more flour, you should have a soft, light dough that feels smooth when you knead it and does not stick to your hands. If you have added too much flour, you can add 1 tbs. milk at a time (this gets kind of messy, but much better than having dry, stiff dough).
When your dough has reached the desired consistency, continue to knead for about 5 minutes.
Put dough in a lightly greased large bowl, and cover with either a wet towel or plastic wrap. Set in a warm space free of drafts for 1 ½-2 hours, or until doubled in size. (If you have a cold house, put your dough in the oven with *just* the light on- works like a charm!).
While waiting for your dough to rise, make the filling: beat vegan butter until soft and slightly fluffy, and gradually add sugar and cinnamon.
Set aside at room temperature.
~Rolling and braiding~
(See photos at bottom of page below if confused)
Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a muffin tin.
When your dough has finished its first rise, roll out into a rectangle shape about 20” tall by 30” wide, which will be about ⅛” thick.
Spread cinnamon sugar filling thinly over the entire rectangle of dough using a metal spatula or the back of a spoon. You don’t want tons of filling here, because it creates a huge mess when baking, but you also don’t want to be able to see the dough through the layer of sugar. The key is to cover all the dough, edge to edge.
Once covered in sugar filling, fold the dough in thirds long ways: bring the top third down, and bring the bottom third up.
You should have a long flat rectangle, about 6”x 30”. Trim the ends slightly so they are straight, and slice the log into strips about 1 ½-2” wide.
Pat each strip down lightly to get everything stuck together and make two evenly-spaced slits starting about ½” down from the top and down the length of the strip. Make sure you leave the strip connected at the top!
Braid the three pieces together, and then gather the top and bottom of the braid together to make a knot.
Place each knot seam side down in muffin tin, repeat until all knots have been created.
Set in a warm place and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or until the knots have puffed up (do not have to be double in size).
When knots have finished the second rise, put muffin tin on a sheet tray, and place in the oven on the middle rack. The sheet tray beneath will catch any sugar that may boil over, hopefully preventing any burned sugar mishaps!
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Finish with a dusting of icing sugar, and enjoy!