Sourdough Cardamom Rolls Are Our Ideal Weekend Baking Project

Fresh out of Sarah Owens' latest cookbook, Heirloom, these spiced and glazed rolls are as cozy as it gets.

January 16, 2020
Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo

Award-winning author Sarah Owens’ cookbook, Heirloom, is not about heirloom tomatoes—although you do see one peeking its way into the cover, and you will find a couple recipes using them, like kvass soup and tangy bread salad, when you flip through.

“While those beloved plump orbs of the nightshade family are indeed a fine place to begin our exploration into the superior flavor that most heirloom plants possess,” she writes in the introduction, “this book encompasses more substantial topics.”

Owens is chasing after what she calls “an heirloom kitchen,” where artisanal ingredients are celebrated, as are time-tested techniques and culinary wisdom.

The result is a gorgeous collection of recipes that feel equal parts old and new. Think: kasha porridge with candied persimmons; bacon-wrapped pork loin with charred cabbage and prune sauce; chocolate einkorn fudge cake with hazelnut streusel.

Owens is well known for her baking (maybe you recognize her from the sourdough episode of Dear Test Kitchen?), so of course her baked goods grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go. Below, we snagged three Heirloom recipes to make as soon as possible. None of them include tomatoes.

Einkorn Cardamom Rolls

If you have yet to play around with einkorn—one of the earliest cultivated wheat varieties—here’s your starting point. These slightly sour, extremely swirly rolls have a cinnamon-cardamom filling and coffee-jolted cream cheese glaze. Make them on a chilly-windy weekend sometime soon and eat them, hopefully still warm, in bed.

Sweet Potato Tart With a Coconut-Pecan Crust

This tart is silky, creamy, and nutty not in spite of being gluten- and dairy-free, but because it’s gluten- and dairy-free. Instead of cream, coconut milk adds lushness and a certain beachy flavor. And instead of flour, pecans and coconuts yield a crumbly-nubby texture. Keep on tab for the holidays, or just the next time you’re having people over.

Sticky Date, Teff & Pecan Cake

Dried dates, soaked in steamy black tea, give this cake its caramelly sweetness. The recipe was inspired by heirloom recipes Owens encountered in the South, but she pivoted it to include whole-grains—specifically, spelt, and “rich, almost chocolaty teff flour.” Dollop it with maple-sweetened, salted whipped cream or crème fraîche.

This article was updated in September 2023 to include more of our favorite products.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Lynn M. July 6, 2021
I was a bit alarmed to see the recipe call for adding cinnamon to the dough. In my experience and knowledge, it is detrimental to add cinnamon to a yeast based bread product because there is an enzyme in cinnamon that kills yeast. I did not add the cinnamon to the dough, only the filling. The rolls came out fantastic and fluffy!
Stephanie B. January 16, 2020
Can't wait to try the rolls! I love einkorn - this looks like a job for my Mockmill :)