I love how that sounds … Fat Tuesday. It’s like the whole world’s conspired to be naughty for the one day. Fat Tuesday has many other names – Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras. The significance of this day goes as far back as 1000 A.D. and is the last day before Lent begins. Where there is Lent, there is fasting. In preparation for a long week of discipline and penance, one day of pleasure (sugar, fat and eggs) is permissible.
In Sweden and Finland, the day is celebrated with semla or fastlagsbulle. You can find this beautiful, sinful cream cardamom bun as soon as after Christmas which means it should really be called Fat-Winter. But who can blame the Scandinavians? Once you’ve tasted these, you just want it all year round.
I have a confession to make. I made the mistake of waiting too long to get almond paste (S: mandelmassa), an essential ingredient to the making of semla. And that’s where I made my second mistake; I bought hazelnut paste thinking that it would make a good substitute. So, I apologize in advance. As beautiful as these buns appear to be, it tasted very different from what it ought to be. So let’s pretend (humour me) that I did get some almond paste and followed the recipe to the tee.
- ½ tbsp (7g) dried yeast
- 15g unsalted butter
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ tsp cardamom
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- Filling and Topping:
- 70g almond paste
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- First, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, add the milk and heat until lukewarm.
- Put yeast into a bowl and add milk mixture in to dissolve the yeast.
- Mix yeast mixture together with flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom and sugar.
- Knead the dough until it becomes smooth.
- Cover with a cloth and leave the dough to rise for around 1 hour.
- Separate dough into 6 round balls.
- Lightly grease some baking sheets, put the buns onto the sheets and allow them to rise for 45 minutes.
- Beat the egg and use a brush to glaze the tops of the buns.
- Heat the oven to 190 degrees C and bake the semla for 10 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- To assemble, cut a circular “lid” off the top of each bun.Use a spoon to scoop out the inside of the bun.Mix together the grated almond paste with the inside of the bun, add milk to make a smooth mixture and use this mixture to fill the hole.Whip the cream and pipe cream on top of the bun filling.Replace the lid of the bun and decorate with icing sugar.