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Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit New England.

I had never been there before, and it was absolutely lovely. It was still rather wintry and cold; all of the trees were bare and the landscape was mostly brown. However, the brown there is very different from where I live. Where I live, when the vegetation is brown, it’s a dry, dead-looking sort of brown. In Massachusetts, it seemed to me, the brown was very much alive. It’s difficult to describe, but Massachusetts, even in the winter, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. I hope I have the chance to live there someday and see it in all of its seasonal splendor. (The place I live now doesn’t have particularly distinct seasons, so the idea of real seasons is tremendously exciting.)

While I was there, I wandered into a lovely little pottery shop somewhere in Vermont. I bought a beautiful blue mug, and I adore it. I have used it nearly every day since I got home. Peppermint tea is delightful as it is, but it’s even better when it comes from a mug with  memories attached to it.

Would you like to know what else makes peppermint tea delightful? Orange-cardamom buns. I made them for the first time yesterday, and they worked splendidly. For quite awhile, it looked like they were going to fail miserably– first the dough was too sticky, then too dry, not elastic enough, and so on. However, this recipe really is foolproof. Try it. It’s life-changing.

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Orange-Cardamom Buns

makes 12 buns

Adapted slightly from this recipe.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 50g sugar
  • 60g butter, room temperature
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 325g flour

Filling:

  • 60g butter, soft
  • 60g sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • zest of 1 orange

Directions:

  1. Whisk the egg and divide in two– half for the dough, and half for the glaze.
  2. Put the flour and butter in a bowl. Rub with your fingers until the butter has been incorporated. Fold in salt, nutmeg, and all but 1 teaspoon of the sugar.
  3. Scald the milk. Then, put the milk aside and let cool to 110°F. Stir in yeast and the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar; let sit for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir the egg (only half) into the milk-yeast mixture, then pour into dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon, then work with your hands until you have a smooth, stretchy dough (~5 minutes). Cover bowl with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm place for an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Knock back and knead again for 2-3 minutes.
  5. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Place butter, sugar, cardamom, and orange zest in a bowl and mix with a fork until well combined.
  6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Roll it into a large rectangle until the it is about 1/4 inch thick. Spread with the filling, then roll up into a sausage. Use a sharp knife to cut into 12 slices.
  7. Place 12 muffin wrappers on a baking sheet. Lay each slice, cut face up, on a muffin wrapper. Cover with a damp tea-towel and leave to rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 390°F. Take the remaining egg and mix with a tablespoon of water. Brush the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake the buns for about 10-12 minutes until golden.

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(That’s my mug in the background, by the way.)

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