For a long time I thought nothing could beat the classic Finnish Pulla. The somewhere between light and dense, cardamom laced, delicately sweet ubiquitous bread that is a staple in Finnish households, and eaten daily by me when in Finland.
Once I’d lived in Scandinavia, however, I discovered a smorgasbord of delightful variations, some appearing only once a year. And as you know I’m somewhat obsessed with holiday food – I was sold.
Enter the Laskiaispulla – the pulla for Shrove Tuesday. Push those common pancakes aside – Lent has a new King. Also known as Semla in Swedish, vastlakukkel in Estonian or fastelavnsbolle in Danish and Norwegian this little bun loved across the still icy Spring shores of the Baltic.
What better way to toast the season of going without than by stuffing your face with a jam and cream filled taste explosion.
The recipe below is for half the usual batch – even I can’t devour 32 buns, but if you’ve got a big group of hungry pilgrims popping around to feast one last time before Easter by all means double it.
1 packet of instant yeast
1/2 a cup of Milk – warmed to body temperature
1/2 cup of golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
50 grams of unsalted butter – softened
3 cups of plain flour – sifted
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom
Flaked or ground almonds – or a combination
Extra egg for glaze
Cream – for whipping
Combine the yeast, sugar, salt, cardamom, milk, butter and beaten egg in your mixing bowl. Using the standard mixing blade switch on and gradually add 1 cup of flour until the mixture in smooth. Switch to the dough hook and incorporate the rest of the flour.
Kneed in your mixer for 5 minutes or turn out onto a floured surface and knead by had for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover and allow to rise for up to two hours or until at least doubled in size.
Once risen turn out and divide into 16 equal portions. Gently roll each portion into a ball and place on a lined baking tray to rise again.
While waiting, make a list of thing you think you should give up for Lent… (not compulsory – the dough will still rise if you skip this step)
Gently brush the risen dough with an egg wash and sprinkle the almonds or pearl sugar onto the rolls.
Bake at 190c for12-15 minutes until lightly golden. Ding – rolls become buns. Allow the buns to cool before adorning with the jam and cream.
Slice the top of each bun and spread a layer of jam on the bottom half, top with cream and pop the top back on. Dust with icing sugar and you’ve a got a perfect last supper on your hands.
A delicious alternative is to fill the buns with almond paste – this can be made by processing blanched almonds, a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and a dash of cream until it comes together to form a paste. It’s worth a try.
These buns are hard to put down; cute, perfectly proportioned and undeniably moreish – I’ve eaten three just writing this post.
A solemn and hungry Lent to all.