Have you heard of "hygge"? If you've come across this word everywhere in the last year, there's good reason—it was a runner-up for the 2016 Oxford Word of the Year! ("Brexit" was the winner, FYI.)
But the word has actually been around since the 1800s. Danish in origin, "hygge" (pronounced "hoo-ga") can be used as a noun or verb, and is meant to evoke a feeling of comfort and coziness. Not surprising, as Danes are not only among the happiest people in the world, but they also experience particularly long and dark winters.
So, how does one hygge? It's all up to you, but what typically comes to mind are fireplaces, lots of candles, thick and cozy sweaters and socks, and, of course, comfort food. Like, say, these indulgent breakfast rolls.
While any rich pastry would qualify for a proper hygge vibe, these rolls have a cardamom filling, making them more Scandinavian in flavor. Cardamom is in the same family as cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, and is the prominent spice used in many signature Scandinavian pastries.
Cardamom pairs beautifully with citrus, and fresh orange zest and juice feature prominently in these rolls—from the dough to the filling and even in the cream-cheese icing.
This dough is a dream to work with, especially if you are less-than-confident about working with yeasted pastries. Plus, you can assemble them the night before, freeing up more time for cozying up with loved ones on a frigid winter morning!
That coincides with another lovely Scandi word: "fika." Also a verb and noun, "fika" refers to anytime you take a break, with a cup of coffee or tea and a baked good. Fika is a time to slow down and savor the moment—and it doesn't get more hygge than that!
Orange Cardamom Breakfast Rolls
8 tablespoons butter, divided
4 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
grated zest of 2 oranges
4 cups flour
1 packet instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cardamom
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Photos by Sheri Silver
1. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Set aside the remaining 2 tablespoons to soften at room temperature.
2. Use the whisk attachment to whisk the egg and yolks in the bowl of a mixer. Add the granulated sugar, melted butter, milk and half the orange zest; whisk again. Add the flour, yeast and salt and whisk till combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl and roll the dough to coat evenly. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 1/2 hours. Grease a 9" x 13" dish (or line with parchment paper).
3. Wipe out the mixer bowl and combine the 2 tablespoons of softened butter, brown sugar and cardamom.
4. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface, to a rectangle of approximately 12" x 18". Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar mixture. Working on the long side, roll into a tight log and cut into 12 equal pieces. Place the slices into your prepared pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.
5. Allow the rolls to sit out for 30 minutes prior to baking, and bring the cream cheese to room temperature.
6. Bake the rolls, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Whisk the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, orange juice and a pinch of salt till smooth.
7. Allow the rolls to cool slightly, then spread generously with your icing. Serve immediately.