Sweet Rolls with Cardamom and Orange Glaze

rolls with CardamomSweet

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

When I began my first year away at college, I had heard about the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. It’s that bizarre anomaly that occurs the first time students go away to college and experience eating in the campus cafeteria where there’s not much that’s healthy, low calorie or pleasant tasting. Legend has it that most freshman will pack on fifteen pounds their first year. And sure enough, it happened to me. My mother claimed that when I came home for my winter break she hardly recognized me.

So do you know what the culprit was…Sweet Rolls. It was the one thing that the cafeteria at Rider University served that was actually edible. I used to eat them in mass quantities. So much so that the cafeteria ladies used to hide trays of them when they saw me coming so there would something left over for the other students. So that folks was how I began my lifelong obsession with the Sweet Roll.

Today I made these Sweet Rolls with Cardamom and Orange Glaze. This is not an overly sweet treat, they’re definitely more a roll than a pastry. I like to add cardamom which gives the roll a spicy-sweet taste and pairs very well with the orange glaze.

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom rising in the pan

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom 

Adapted from the LA Times

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons, softened butter
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (or brown ones, doesn’t matter) re-hydrated
  • 1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or I used pistachios)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


  1. Place 1/2 cup of warm water (between 105-115 degrees F) in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir it to dissolve it and let it sit to get foamy.
  2. Take your raisins and place them in a bowl covered in warm water and let them sit until you’re ready to use them. This will hydrate them and plump them up. When ready to use, drain and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a small pan, heat the 1/2 cup of milk until just simmering, then add the butter and stir until it’s melted. Next, stir in 2 teaspoons of the cardamom, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let this liquid mixture cool to about 110 degrees F.
  4. Pour this mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the yeast mixture to it. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the eggs one at a time.  Now, change the paddle attachment to the dough hook and add 3 cups of flour to this mixture until dough is smooth. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom to incorporate all the flour.  Add more flour in small increments until the dough starts to come together. (I ended up using about 4 1/4 cups). Mix with the dough hook for about 5 minutes.  Lightly flour your surface, and with floured hands turn the dough out onto you board. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic.
  5. Take a large bowl (or large covered container) and spray it with cooking spray, or brush it lightly with oil.  Put the dough into the bowl, and turn it to coat it with the spray or oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  6. *Side Note: once the dough has risen, you can now punch it down and cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator overnight if you wish to make the rolls fresh for the next day. If you do that, the next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit a room temperature for about an hour, punch down dough again, and roll out to make rolls.
  7. Punch down the dough, and roll it into a 20″ x 15″ rectangle. Make sure the dough is rolled out fairly thin, about 1/16″ so you don’t have overly “doughy” rolls.
  8. I melted my 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, in small time increments, just so that the butter became smooth enough to spread with a pastry brush or offset spatula but not so much that it was liquid. Spread the butter over the top of the dough. Whisk together the 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Sprinkle over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the raisins and nuts over the top also. Using a microplane, zest the orange over the top of the dough.
  9. Now the process may get a little tricky, so hang in there. Starting at the longer side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. If the dough became a little sticky a lightly brushed a little flour on top of it. I took a ruler and made little slit marks every 1  1/4″ so that I cut my slices all the same width so that they would bake evenly.  Then place the cut rolls into a 9″ x 13″ buttered or sprayed baking dish. Cover with plastic and let rise until they double in size, about one hour. Place in a preheated 350 degree F oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. I rotated my pan after 15 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.
  10. To make the glaze: Sift 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl and add just enough fresh orange juice to bring the sugar to a good drizzling consistency. Mix with a whisk or fork. Drizzle over the buns. You can also sprinkle some more chopped nuts on top if you like.
Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Mama’s Tips: 

If the rolls are browning too quickly on top, cover the top lightly with a piece of foil. You still want the rolls to bake all the way through and not be doughy inside.

If your room where you’re baking is cool, while the dough is rising, I take my bowl that’s covered in plastic wrap and wrap it in a bath bowl to keep the bowl warm to encourage rising.

Many times when I’m using raisins in my baking, I will re-hydrate them to plump them up because I think they taste better. You can rehydrate them in just warm water, simple syrup, orange juice or wine. Either way, I think they come out real tasty!

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Recipe: Intermediate

67 Comments on “Sweet Rolls with Cardamom and Orange Glaze”

  1. Nancy Tanner says:

    love love love, one of my favorite combinations! Thank you!

  2. I don’t know why sweet rolls have been on my mind all week… but they have. Cardamom is one of my very favorite spices, particularly when paired with citrus. I will try your gorgeous recipe – and hope that the they don’t lead me back to my Freshman 30 days! 🙂

    • Shanna, back in the day i may have eaten the entire batch, today i believe in moderation. But that’s hard for me when confronted with pastries!

      • My friend, truer words never spoken. I am attempting to fit into my jeans once more – and am practicing moderation. 😦 What has happened to my stellar metabolism? Clearly, less pastries are bad for the soul. This said, I would not be able to resist one – or seven – of your sweet rolls. The photos say it all.

  3. flippenblog says:

    I can smell this! So nice for Easter comming up, not that i can believe it is almost Easter again…..

  4. davegon says:

    I wish there was a “love” button! I love cardamom!!

  5. I think I love everything about this recipe, the photos, the rolls (I don’t know how I’ve manage to live without them for so long since I discover them quite recently), the flavours and the scent I imagine overpowering the whole place…
    Great post, Sheryl! You enraptured my senses completely 😉

  6. Gorgeous rolls!! Love cardamom and orange. They look spectacular!

  7. Spectacular!! Delicious!!

  8. Once again, an incredible recipe and gorgeous pictures that take us on the journey.

  9. Lisa says:

    These look fantastic!! I’m a huge fan of cardamom. Your rolls are beautiful! 🙂

  10. Beth Somers says:

    Yum! I love cardamom, but find that it is kind of a polarizing ingredient. I put some into oatmeal this weekend and served it to my boyfriend and niece. Neither of them took more than a single bite, but I thought it tasted wonderful. I’m glad you have others to enjoy your cardamom with! Your sweet rolls look perfect.

  11. What is it about cardamom and fruit that is just so wonderful?!! These sweet rolls look great!

  12. I just love cardamom and I rarely use it! I have a strong affection for a sweet roll of any kind and yours look just beautiful!

  13. nilaholden says:

    They look and sound delicious! x

  14. I had the same thing Freshman year, and I know my culprit – brownie ala mode. Which I had after dinner EVERY NIGHT. Sometimes after lunch, too. I also used to eat large bowls of chickpeas, feta and olive oil. I thought it was healthy, but I’m pretty sure the chickpea:feta ratio was about 1:2. So…not so healthy!

    These sweet rolls look delicious!!!

  15. Patty Nguyen says:

    Your sweet rolls look delicious! And I know the “freshman fifteen” all too well…I still have mine (and then some)! Eeck!

  16. ohlidia says:

    Oh, how gorgeous! I love cardamom in my baked goods.

  17. KerryCan says:

    Gorgeous! The photos and the sound of the recipe! YUM!

  18. Jeff Parker says:

    Another one out of the park! These sound delicious, Sheryl!

  19. KiKiMac says:

    yuuum! mine was waffles. i went home and said, “mom! it’s so great! they keep the breakfast out later on the weekends, so my friend and I go make our own waffles every sunday.” she said, “it’s time to stop.”

  20. Your rolls are adorable, what a interesting combination cardamom and orange… I’ve tried once to prepare this kind of rolls, a disaster…but since I don’t like to give up in cooking I’ll try again with your recipe!

  21. sabine says:

    Orange adds such a wonderful flowery flavor to almost everything – you can always catch me with that!

  22. cloverleaf says:

    The aromas almost waft out of your photos, Sheryl! So enticing!

  23. lovelygalletas says:

    looks perfect! Nice blog 😀

  24. Well this sounds yummy – cardamom always gives an unexpected twist to the taste!

  25. Love the cardamom you added! Too funny that the cafeteria folks hid a batch of rolls for the other students!! 🙂

  26. Oh yes! These look like a perfects snack!!!

  27. I never would have thought to add cardamon – brilliant! Also, thanks for the tips, especially the tinfoil trick if the buns are browning too quickly.

    Honestly, sometimes nothing in life will do like a sweet roll. I find I can never be sad when eating one.

  28. I’ve just found out recently what cardamon is, and we used it to make a cardamon grappa. Anyways interesting rolls looks almost like the rolls my husband used to make in our bakery.

  29. You had me at cardamom… these look lovely!!

  30. Victoria says:

    These look so delicious! Love sweet rolls…one of my favorite things. I will enjoy trying this recipe.

  31. themondaybox says:

    My freshman 15 was probably more like a freshman 20 and being only 5 feet tall….lets just say it wasn’t possible to camouflage! A friend drove me home that summer and my mother (generally a kind and nonjudgmental person) asked if he had driven or rolled me home! 🙂 I wish I could say that the pounds came from something as delicious as sweet rolls. Or maybe not. If we had sweet rolls, I probably would have gained a freshman 50!
    The cardamom and orange combination is such a comforting and refreshing taste/smell! I will make these lovely rolls when I have plenty of people to share them with. I want these sweet rolls, I just don’t want a midlife 15!

    • Well thank you for sharing your college story. It’s funny how so many of us went through the same experience. i am 5 feet tall also, so I couldn’t hide it either. I know you have a son, so share these rolls with him. My boys can eat anything and not put on a pound!

      • themondaybox says:

        Worse than not putting on a pound, Sheryl, my son LOST weight his freshman year!! Not fair. 🙂 I will be making these when he is home for Spring Break.

  32. Joni Grubb says:

    I would love one of these yummy looking rolls with a cup of coffee right now!!!

  33. hlb78 says:

    YUM! That looks so tasty 🙂

  34. Sweet sweet scrolls, sticky glaze and a whole lot of heaven. I love sticky buns and these are no exception!

  35. essbee14 says:

    Wow – I almost feel like these aren’t even legal. Great recipe idea!

  36. These look super delicious!

  37. These sound amazing! Any advice for those of us who don’t have a stand mixer? I’d be doing most of the mixing by hand.

  38. Brooks says:

    Mine was a freshman 20, food it was and beer a plenty! I know cardamom in my apple pie spice blend, but I’ve not paired it with orange. Or rolls. Thank you for the inspiration to stretch, Sheryl.

  39. These rolls are absolutely perfect, Mama! I can’t get over how gorgeous they are. And the flavour combination is killer. I’ve always wanted to make orange sweet rolls. I need to print this out and try it asap!

  40. Carolyn Chan says:

    I think I just gained 15 pounds from looking at your photos ! They look DIVINE. I love the tip on rehydrating the raisins, what a great idea !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s