Cardamom muffins


Cardamom muffins with bilberries and lime

These muffins are light and fluffy, have wonderful golden mounds and the taste is spot on, with a perfect balance of cardamombilberries and lime. The recipe uses demerara sugar which helps with the texture, flavour and the colour, whilst the use of buttermilk and lime gives a gentle hint of acidity without making the muffins too sour. I don't think you will find a better recipe for cardamom muffins anywhere!

Muffins are popular on both sides of the pond. In fact, the blueberry muffin is the official state muffin of Minnesota, known as the land of 10,000 lakes and is often regarded as the centre of Scandinavian American culture.

Traditionally, Swedish muffins are baked in taller and wider paper cases than Americans use, but the size doesn’t really matter, other than making a difference to how long they take to bake and how many the mixture makes!

Some people may think of these as cupcakes and in truth there is very little difference. Cupcakes tend to be sweeter and have icing (frosting) on top. Muffins are often made with fruit and spice and so can be savoury, whilst cupcakes are always sweet. Muffins are also usually a little dryer and slightly denser than their cupcake cousins. John Duxbury




• Use frozen berries as it helps to prevent the colour from bleeding too much into the mixture.
• Tossing the berries in a little flour helps to prevent them from sinking.
• If you can’t find frozen bilberries (wild blueberries), use cultivated blueberries but increase the quantity to 100 g (1 cup) as they don't have as much flavour.

Cardamom muffins at Easter

• If you can, leave the mixture to rest for up to 36 hours, as this enables the flour to hydrate and produce fluffier muffins. It doesn't make a really big difference, but it is worth doing if it is convenient and particularly if you want muffins for breakfast, as above on Easter Sunday.

Cardamom muffins with bilberries and lime

• Although most recipes use 2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) produces slightly fluffier muffins because of the presence of buttermilk and lime juice.

A carton of buttermilk

• Using buttermilk gives the muffins a slightly sour taste which is better for a muffin, but not so good for a cupake!
• Allow the muffins to cool slightly before serving, but muffins don’t keep very well, so don’t wait too long! (They can be reheated in a microwave: 30 seconds each on a medium setting.)


75 g (½ cup) frozen bilberries (wild blueberries)
240 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
12-15   green cardamom pods*
110 g (½ cup) butter, cubed and softened
200 g (1 cup) demerara sugar
1   egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp   baking powder
1 tsp   bicardbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ tsp   salt
240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
1   lime, zest and juice

*Or use 1 teaspoon of ready ground cardamom


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas 5, fan 160°C) and line a muffin tray with 9 muffin cases.

Frozen bilberries dusted in flour

2. Toss the frozen bilberries in a little flour and put them back in the freezer.

3. Lightly crush to cardamom pods to remove the seeds and then grind the seeds as much as possible using a pestle and mortar. You should end up with about 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom.

4. Beat the butter in a food mixer until it is very soft, about the consistency of mayonnaise.

5. Beat in the sugar, then the beaten egg and mix until well combined.

6. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cardamom and the salt in a separate bowl and mix well.

7. Fold half of the flour mixture into the mix and then half the buttermilk, then remaining flour and buttermilk. Finally, fold in the lime juice and zest, but do not overwork. Leave the mixture overnight if possible.

Cardamom muffins with bilberries and lime before being baked

8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, dot with bilberries and sprinkle the remaining cardamom over the top.

Cardamom muffins with bilberries and lime on a plate

9. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and eat when still warm.


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John Duxbury
Editor and Founder