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Iced Apple and Cardamom Rolls

by roselevit

Holy shit, y’all. I think I’m in love with these cardamom and apple rolls.

I’ve been meaning to bake something with cardamom for years now. Every time I watch Great British Baking Show (which is a lot), someone inevitably makes something flavored with cardamom, which the judges always call unusual or daring. I’ve used it in savory dishes but never before in a sweet dish, so I thought it was time to try. I also saw a Prue Leith recipe for apple cinnamon rolls, so I’ve been formulating the idea for these for a while.

Then, today, my boyfriend received a large gift of fancy dried fruit from his parents. It had dried apples, kiwis, dates, apricots, prunes – you name it. However, it was way more than we would ever eat plain, so with his permission I decided to use some of it for baking experiments. These were the happy result of my first experiment, which I based on an entirely unoriginal cinnamon roll recipe that I made a few days ago. Instead of the traditional filling of cinnamon and sugar, I went with a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, dried apples, dates, pecans, and honey. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, but it works.

These rolls are fluffy and rich, with a quick yeasted dough that bakes up much like challah or brioche. The filling is textured, slightly crunchy from the pecans, and packed with fruit and spices. Over the top is a light coating of white icing, which bubbles when it hits the hot rolls and soaks into the bread, adding a moist, indulgent sweetness.

Cardamom isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you’re pretty sure you won’t like the rolls with cardamom, leave it out and just stick with cinnamon. However, if you’re down for some new flavors or you really like Middle Eastern desserts, you’ll love the cardamom in these rolls. I think it’s absolutely delicious!

Iced Apple and Cardamom Rolls

Easy, delicious rolls inspired by Middle Eastern flavors. Stuffed with dates, apples, pecans, and spices, they're sweet and irresistible.
Prep Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Servings 12 rolls



  • 100 g dates pitted and finely chopped
  • 90 g dried apple rings finely chopped
  • 90 g pecans finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter softened


  • 345 g (2 ¾ cups) all purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 50 g (¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) instant dry yeast
  • ½ cup milk (I used 2%)
  • ¼ cup water cool or room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg


  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk


  • Stir all the filling ingredients together until well-combined. Set aside.
  • Stir the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, yeast) together in a large bowl.
  • Add the butter and milk to a heatproof bowl and microwave until melted but not bubbling. Stir in the water and take a temperature reading with an instant thermometer. You're aiming for a temperature of 110-115º F, which will allow the yeast to bloom. Microwave for a few more seconds or put in the fridge if you need to adjust the temperature.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the egg, and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. The dough should be soft and a little sticky.
  • Lightly flour a work surface and your hands, then turn out the dough. Knead for 3-4 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Don't be afraid to use a lot of flour if you need to. Pat the kneaded dough into a ball.
  • Coat a bowl with oil or nonstick spray, add the dough, and cover with a clean cloth towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Once the dough has rested, roll it out into a 14×8 inch rectangle (dusting the surface and rolling pin with flour) and evenly distribute the filling on top.
  • With the long side of the dough facing you (think landscape orientation), tightly roll up the dough by folding the far edge over the filling and then rolling it toward you.
  • Cut the edges off the rolled dough, set them aside, and cut the rest of the log into 12 equal pieces. I did this by cutting it in half, then in quarters, then cutting each quarter in thirds.
  • Lightly grease a 9" pie pan and arrange the rolls in the pan. Use the edges you cut off to fill in any blank spots. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil or a clean shower cap, then set in a warm place to rise for 1.5-2.5 hours, until doubled in size.
  • Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 375º F. Uncover the rolls and bake for 25-30 minutes until they're lightly golden.
  • While the rolls bake, whisk together the icing ingredients until no lumps of sugar remain. When you remove the rolls from the oven, drizzle the icing on top. The heat allows the icing to permeate the rolls.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve warm. Store any uneaten rolls at room temperature for up to 2 days.
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