Saffron, Pistachio, rosewater and Cardamom...
Lately I found the trace of my own home in others’. The beautiful green cardamom pods on Beth’s kitchen in early morning while she makes her aromatic cardamom & rose iced latte, or in Amy’s recipe when rosewater is mixed with cream cheese and pistachios for a gorgeous frosting. Or when I first saw the outstanding yellow Saffron bundt cake from Linda in that dark room.
Persian culture is full of exotic, beautiful, mysterious and complex things! As all the middle eastern culture. But in all the excitement of different ingredients, there is always balance, and delicateness too!
For saffron, though, we never go too little but always a little bit more. Yellow shines and it's a reminder of fire and sun which symbolize life. Pistachio is our one and only green nut that we love to use in everything. Dessert, food & snacks. And Cardamom, I never understand how much cardamom is too much cardamom! I'm so attached to its smell, to its texture..for me it’s never too strong, never too spicy, never too exotic. It's only the right amount as my grandmother says; just add as much as you feel like, what feels right…
For me those spices are simply a reminder of everything I grew up with! My grandma’s kitchen in Bam, my mom’s cooking, the smells of the streets of Tehran during lunchtime, spices & pastry shops in the Kerman's Vakil Bazaar, and the afternoon teas! Afternoon teas are the best and a must for us in middle east, with those little pieces of gorgeousness of Persian pastries, made with pistachio, cardamom & rosewater (baghlava), Saffron Loz (here you kind find a recipe by my aunt), Coconut loz or simple Pistachio loz. The small tiny sweet bites lined perfectly for a long strong bitter black tea.
I left my country for the better chances with a dream to go back to Iran one day and to make it a better place for our children. I can not even imagine how it can be leaving your home or country during a war, terror and blood!! I wish things were different these days for many people, especially the ones in Aleppo.
For the peaceful, rich, colorful days of Happiness to come in 2017;
I made the rolls with a middle eastern touch, a reminder of beauty, of love, feeling of being home. Feeling of being safe, accepted, loved, of being happy ...feeling the hospitality when you enter in a warm cozy middle eastern home, they offer you many things, their love and of course tea and lots of sweets ….
A nourishing aromatic Persian roll, I must call it. Buns made with rosewater, rolls field with cardamom and pistachios, and a delicate saffron frosting. The recipe is a complex beauty and definitely a reminder of home.
For 4-6 People
- 240 ml warm whole milk
- 50 g white sugar
- 7-8 g dry active yeast
- 2 egg
- 80 g butter, melted
- 2 tablespoon Golab (rosewater)
- a good pinch of salt
- 600 g tipo "00" Italiano or all purpose flour + 40 g for dusting
- 120 ml fresh cream
For the filling;
- 80 g butter
- 80 g brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon or (to taste) freshly ground cardamom
- 80-100 g ground pistachio
For the frosting:
- 120 g cream cheese, softened
- 80 g butter, softened
- 180 g powdered sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon good quality ground Saffron (add more if you want the intense color)
- 3-4 tablespoon whole milk (use more if you like your frosting thinner)
Couple of hours or the night before, place the cream cheese and the butter out of the fridge so they'll be soft and at room temperature for the frosting.
For the dough; In a large bowl place the warm milk, whisk in sugar until dissolved. Sprinkle the dry yeast all over the mixture. Wait 5 to 10 minutes until the dry yeast dissolves into the milk and starts to proof. (sugar helps the yeast to proof faster). Whisk in eggs, melted butter, rosewater and salt until smooth and even.
Gradually begin adding the flour (about 250-280 g). When the dough starts to come together, sprinkle a good amount of flour on your work surface and place the dough, sprinkle more flour on top and start working it - the dough should be a bit sticky but soft and even - and it's ready when it does not stick to your hands. Remember to add the rest of the flour gradually and only if needed. Work the dough by hands for about 4-5 minutes.
Place the dough into greased bowl, covered with a clean kitchen towel and let it proof in a very warm place for 1 hour to 1 hour & half or until doubled in size. You can warm up the oven in advanced for 10-20 minutes, then turn it off and let the dough proof there. (you can also place the dough on top of the radiators or even place it in a direct sun light with more towels to cover the whole bowl). Meanwhile, prepare the filling and the frosting.
For the filling; If you're using the cardamom pods like I did, place them in a mortar and crush them for 2-3 times until the skin crack open a little bit, then remove all the skin and continue to crush the seeds until you have a fine ground cardamom. Ground your pistachios in a mortar (or blender). If you are using Persian Khalal-e Pesteh, use a mortar as they are very delicate and usually high quality pistachios, in the blender they will spoil.
If using saffron strands, place them in a small mortar and add a pinch of brown sugar to it, then ground the saffron. Sugar helps the saffron to ground faster and better. Bring to boil some milk. Add 1-2 tablespoon of hot milk into ground saffron, stir, then cover for 10 minutes.
For the frosting; Place the softened cream cheese, softened butter & powdered sugar in a medium bowl, whisk until combined, then whisk to Saffron milk until fluffy. If you like your frosting thinner you can always add more milk or Saffron milk. Cover and keep in the fridge for later.
When the dough is proofed, roll it on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. I rolled mine in 1 to 1.5 centimeters thick. (If you like your dough puffier you can roll it to a 2 cm thickness and use a larger pan.) Spread the softened butter all around the dough, then combine the brown sugar & ground cardamom, sprinkle the mixture over the butter, then sprinkle the ground pistachios. Gently roll the dough (lengthwise) to form a log and then use a very thin sharp knife or an un-flavored dental floss to slice the big roll into smaller rolls. (see the pictures). Place the rolls into a prepared pan with a little bit of space between each other. (I used a 16 cm & a 21 cm round pans). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the rolls proof until doubled in size. Meanwhile Preheat the oven to 160 C.
Bake the rolls in the oven for 7-10 minutes, then take them out and pour several tablespoons of heavy cream over each roll and between them. Return and bake them in oven until golden brown on top.
You can spread the Saffron frosting over warm rolls and let the rolls cool slightly before serving or serve the frosting in a separate bowl and spread it on rolls when the rolls are almost cool.
Cover and refrigerate them for 2 days or freeze them up to 5 days. Best served when warm.
Buns recipe adapted by Tatyana's Everyday food