Baking Shrovetide buns (fastelavnsboller)

The days are getting longer, and despite the polar winds (well, -2C at night, which is cold for Rome) it does feel like spring is on the way. Some optimistic cherry tree are flowering, and there are electric yellow sprigs of mimosa bobbing down the street along with the red roses in Valentine’s Day bouquets today. Rome is currently in the yellow zone, so restaurants can open for lunch and we can go for coffee, as we did this morning, sitting outside bundled up against the wind. Everyone on the street wears masks, and it was a busy Sunday with people out walking in the sunshine. Carnevale must have started, as there are colorful sprinkles of paper confetti scattered here and there on the sidewalks, and a few small children in costumes. I confess, I’ve lost track of whether the kids are in school or not. The palazzo next door had a mini birthday toast for someone this morning, and it was great to see a couple kids with tutus and play swords. Even with plenty of distancing and masks, seeing that makes life feel almost normal again. The pastry shops in Rome are also selling frappe and castagnole, deepfried dough pieces dusted with icing sugar, and little dough fritters.

It’s Shrove Sunday, so I made Norwegian fastelavnsboller today, Shrovetide buns. Yeasted wheat buns with a little cardamom, split in two horizontally and filled with whipped cream, dusted with icing sugar. Some years I make a healthier version, this year I used the classic Tine recipe, just with less yeast, no egg and longer rise.

Fastelavnsboller (Shrovetide buns, makes 12-14)

100g butter, melted and slightly cooled
350 ml lukewarm milk (I used semi-skimmed)
25g fresh yeast (or 13g dry yeast)
100 g sugar
500 g white flour
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

To serve
200 ml whipping cream, whipped wirh a little vanlla sugar, plus icing sugar to dust over

Melt butter, and add milk. Heat until it is just finger warm, about 37C. Crumble the fresh yeast in a bowl. When the milk and butter are lukewarm, dissolve the yeast in the milk and butter, in a large bowl. Careful it is not too hot, that will kill the yeast. Add flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and sugar. Stir well, the dough will be quite sticky. Knead for a few minutes, you will feel the dough getting smoother. Let the dough rise at room temperature, under cover (I use a plastic shower cap) for 2-3 hours, you will see it doubling.

Knock the dough back. Divide it into 12-14 pieces, and roll these out to round buns, roughly the same size. Leave to rise on parchment paper on a baking tray, covered with a tea towel. Dampening the tea towel slightly keeps the dough from drying out. Leave to rise until it doubles, half an hour or so. Bake at 220ºC on the middle rack for 10-11 minutes. Let the buns cool on a rack.

When cool (otherwise the cream goes runny): whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar. Slice the buns in half. Spoon a generous blob of whipped cream on the bases, then replace each bun top carefully. Sift over icing sugar, and serve.

I hope you are all staying safe and that sunny days are on the way for you too.

Trying my hand at semmelwraps……

semmelwrapWhat is THIS, you might wonder? Well, I am trying my hand at semmelwraps……  To explain: Carnival season is approaching, there are tacky costumes for kids in Rome shop windows and bits of confetti here and there on the wet sidewalks. The bakeries have frappe, bits of flat deep-fried pastry dusted with icing sugar. It hailed here this morning, brrr….. and I really fancied fastelavnsboller, which are Norwegian yeasted Shrovetide cardamom cream-filled buns, so time to bake! In Norway we have fastelavnsboller to mark the last Sunday before Lent, which is actually in two weeks, but I wanted these now. Last year, mine looked like this: imageIn Sweden these are called semlor and are sometimes also filled with some marzipan or almond mass. Lovely. Only this time I thought I might try the super-trendy semmelwrap, the 2015 Swedish version of cronut-mania, invented by a Stockholm bakery. You make your sweet yeasted dough, roll it out like a tortilla, an then stuff it with almond mass and whipped cream, and make a wrap. See Baka semmelwraps  for what it SHOULD look like, and recipe in Swedish. Very, very hip in Sweden right now. I used a basic sweet yeast dough for the buns, and optimistically rolled out two of the buns to see if I could make a semmelwrap. How bad could it be?

Fastelavnsboller (Shrovetide cardamom cream buns) + 2 attempted semmelwraps

25g fresh yeast (or 13g dry yeast)
70g butter, melted and slightly cooled
350 ml lukewarm milk
500g plain flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
70g sugar

Filling:
300ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
(Optional: marzipan)

Topping:
A little icing sugar, sifted over
This makes 14-15 buns, depending on the size. Or 13 buns and two wraps.

Melt butter, and add milk. Heat until it is just finger warm, about 37C. Crumble the fresh yeast in a bowl. When the milk and butter are lukewarm, dissolve the yeast in the milk and butter, in a large bowl. Careful it is not too hot, that will kill the yeast. Add flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and sugar. Stir well, the dough will be quite sticky. Knead for a few minutes, you will feel the dough getting smoother. Let the dough rise at room temperature, under cover (I use a plastic shower cap) for 1-2 hours, you will see it doubling soon.  (ALTERNATIVELY: we went for a very long Sunday lunch with friends today, so this dough was tossed together quickly and then sat in the fridge for six hours before I came home, pulled it out and shaped the buns. Dough seemed OK.)

Knock the dough back. Divide it into 14-15 pieces, and roll these out to round buns, roughly the same size. Leave to rise on parchment paper on a baking tray, covered with a tea towel. Leave to rise until it doubles, 20-30 min or so. You can glaze them with beaten egg if you like before baking, but I skipped that this time. Bake buns at 240ºC on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes. Let the buns cool on a rack.

hveteboller
When buns / wraps are cool (otherwise the cream goes runny): whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar. Slice the buns in half. Spoon a generous blob of whipped cream on the bases, then replace each bun top carefully. Sift over icing sugar, and serve. It can be messy but is delicious!

fastelavnsbolle

WRAPS: Bake at 240ºC on the middle rack for 5-6 minutes. Let the wraps cool on a rack. (Note: the Swedish video warns against over-baking, and recommends 3 min at 240C. Mine might be a bit thick, I baked them 8 minutes.)  For the two test wraps, we excavated some leftover marzipan (35 grammes or so) and crumbled that in the two wraps.  Add some whipped cream, and dust with icing sugar. Try to fold. Discover that yes, your baked wraps are a little too thick….. mine were like thin naan, but they really need to be rolled quite thin. One was foldable, one just cracked. Both were delicious though!

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Fastelavnsboller: Shrovetide cardamom cream buns

imageIt is coming to the end of Carnevale here in Rome. Coming home last night, the entry of our building was sprinkled with colorful bits of confetti. You often see confetti on the sidewalks these days. It is a rainy spring morning here, and I am baking fastelavnsboller today: yeasted cardamom buns, filled with whipped cream, just before serving. In Norway we have fastelavnsboller to mark the last Sunday before Lent. In Sweden these are called semlor. They might have a slice of marzipan or a little jam beneath the cream, and they are dusted with icing sugar before bitten into. As they are rather nice, the season for enjoying these stretches a bit longer than fastelavn Sunday. Best the same day they are baked, as these are baked with yeast.

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Fastelavnsboller (Shrovetide cardamom cream buns)

25g fresh yeast (or 13g dry yeast)
50g butter, melted and slightly cooled
350 ml lukewarm whole milk
450g plain flour
50g wholewheat flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
50g sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 egg, lightly beaten (add to dough)
1/2 egg, lightly beaten (for glazing, just before baking)

Filling:
300ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
Optional: jam (strawberry is nice)

Topping:
A little icing sugar, sifted over

This makes 14-15 buns, depending on the size. I doubled the recipe today, as friends are coming round for tea and fastelavnsboller soon.

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Melt butter, and add milk. Heat until it is just finger warm, about 37C. Crumble the fresh yeast in a bowl. When the milk and butter are lukewarm, dissolve the yeast in the milk and butter, in a large bowl. Careful it is not too hot, that will kill the yeast. Add flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and sugar, and stir in the one beaten egg. Stir well, the dough will be quite sticky. Knead for a few minutes, you will feel the dough getting smoother. Let the dough rise at room temperature, under cover (I use a plastic shower cap) for 1-2 hours, you will see it doubling soon.

Knock the dough back. Divide it into 14-15 pieces, and roll these out to round buns, roughly the same size. Leave to rise on parchment paper on a baking tray, covered with a tea towel. Dampening the tea towel slightly keeps the dough from drying out. Leave to rise until it doubles, half an hour or so.

When ready to make, glaze each bun with a little glazed egg. Bake at 200ºC on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes. Let the buns cool on a rack.

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When cool (otherwise the cream goes runny): whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar. Having a visiting mini Snow White help you assemble the buns is optional. Slice the buns in half. If you like jam, add a little on each base, but I like them with just whipped cream and icing sugar. Spoon a generous blob of whipped cream on the bases, then replace each bun top carefully. Sift over icing sugar, and serve. It can be messy but is delicious!
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Notes: Only fill as many as you will eat, they are better freshly stuffed with cream. They are very light and more-ish, it is easy to get through a few….. This is the classic type, with yeast. I have made these with sourdough as well, and slow cold-rise overnight, but with a late start (it is Sunday, after all) I opted for a more standard approach. It is adapted from the 1987 cookbook “Gjærbakst på alle bord”, which was one of my first cookbooks when heading off to university, but with a little less butter and sugar and with some wholewheat flour added. If there are any left, I will pack a couple buns for my lunch tomorrow, with brown goat’s cheese. A good Sunday to you all!
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