I saw and loved the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In for the first time around the time it came out in 2008, but just recently read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. These are the August picks for Coffee and Casseroles’ Night Bleeds Book and Movie Club!
The movie is very good, but as is to be expected, the book adds layers to Eli and Oskar, both to their characters (Oskar is even more of a little shit in the book and Eli even more beautifully tragic) and to their dark friendship. There’s also interesting story around Virginia and Jocke; their plot points are hit in the movie, but there is a lot of detail in the book that is either very sweet or sickly fascinating.
In the book, Oskar’s mom is a single parent, lonely, relishing his misery and becoming resentful when he makes a friend. Often in the evenings they watch television together and have cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, a ritual he falls out of when he starts spending more time with Eli. Although in the book these are the Cinnamon Rolls of Gross Codependency, in life these cinnamon rolls are delicious.
Swedish cinnamon rolls aren’t much different than American style, the key enhancement being lovely, fragrant cardamom in the dough – a favorite spice of Scandinavians dating back to 860AD when the Vikings ravaged Constantinople! Heating milk with vanilla bean and cardamom on the stove made the kitchen smell heavenly.
I adapted Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe — and when I say adapted, I mean I used whole cardamom instead of ground because that’s what I had, and I rolled them out to the wrong length and width because oops — but will actually make a few more tweaks when I make them again (which I will because they were delicious). The dough was actually a little stiffer than it was meant to be even though I added the least amount of flour, and the cinnamon mixture was way too thin and seeped out of the dough, so next time I’ll make it thicker. These kind of differences I usually chalk up to atmosphere or personal incompetence or whatever, so I’ll give you recommendations for humid American South, but you may also wish to check out the original recipe.
Swedish Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson
For the dough
- 1 package yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 10 cardamom pods, cracked
- 1 vanilla pod, halved and scraped (substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk (reserve extra egg white)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 – 5 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the filling
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons warm or hot milk (original calls for 4, mine was too watery)
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
For the topping
- Reserved egg white
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
In a small bowl, mix yeast, warm water, and sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Gently heat milk, butter, cardamom pods, and vanilla bean until very warm but not hot. Remove from heat and allow to steep until cool. Strain, and add to the yeast mixture. Whisk egg, egg yolk, sugar and salt until well combined, stir into yeast mixture.
Add flour until a slightly wet dough forms, and roll it into a ball. Grease a clean bowl with the vegetable oil, and turn the dough ball in it until coated. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 2 hours.
Combine the filling ingredients (butter, brown sugar, sugar, warm milk and cinnamon). Prepare two baking sheets with buttered parchment.
Divide the dough into two equal parts, and on a floured counter roll into 12 x 9 inch rectangles. Spread with the filling mixture and roll length-wise. Slice into 6 slices and place on baking sheets, slightly flattening with your palm (next time I’ll tuck in the ends to make them a little prettier). Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
Whisk together egg white with a couple tablespoons water and brush over the rolls. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack.
Serve in front of the TV with guilt and hot chocolate.