Make your own fastelavnsboller

Shrove Tuesday Buns to start the Lenten season

Photos: Kristi Bissell
Soft and tender cardamom buns filled with a sweet almond paste and topped with whipped cream are a very delicious way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.

Kristi Bissell
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American

On Shrove Tuesday and throughout the Lenten season in all the Scandinavian countries, people indulge in fastelavnsboller, buttery cardamom buns filled with a rich almond filling and topped with a flourish of whipped cream.

You are going to love these buttery, almond-filled Shrove Tuesday Buns! They are as delicious as they are beautiful and are surprisingly easy to make. I hope you will give these deliciously decadent fastelavnsboller a try! They are a fun baking project for a late winter or early spring day.

Why this recipe works

These are the very best fastelavnsboller out there for a few reasons:

The dough recipe uses a very simple technique called tangzhong that is used in making Japanese milk bread. It only takes about 5 extra minutes, but it yields billowy, super soft buns that stay soft for a longer period of time.

They are perfectly buttery and sweet, and the dough is a dream to work with.

The creamy almond filling is a simple combination of ground almonds, sugar, and almond extract and no prepared almond paste. This ensures great natural flavor and no overly sweet, off flavors.

One important note about the ingredient list for these Shrove Tuesday Buns is that the recipe calls for instant yeast, which is not the same thing as active dry yeast. The essential difference between the two is that instant yeast can be mixed right in with the dry ingredients, whereas active dry yeast needs to be proofed in warm liquid before adding it to the recipe.

Instant yeast is also more reliable, effective, and fast-acting. While this recipe calls for instant yeast, you can certainly substitute active dry yeast by proofing it in the warm milk before adding it to the dough.

FAQ

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, is celebrated the day before Lent begins, the six-week period before Easter, during which some Christians choose to fast or give up certain luxuries.

Why are fastelavnsboller eaten?

It’s all about that final indulgence before the austerity of the Lenten season. For some, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated with pancakes for dinner. In the Scandinavian countries, people indulge in fastelavnsboller.

Are the fastelavnsboller only enjoyed on Shrove Tuesday?

While fastelavnsboller are traditionally enjoyed on Shrove Tuesday, you will find them in bakeries throughout the Nordic region starting just after the new year and continuing through Easter.

What time of day are fastelavnsboller served?

I like serving my Shrove Tuesday  Buns for a coffee break in the late morning or afternoon, but you could certainly get away with serving these for an unconventional breakfast or even for dessert following a light meal.

 

FASTELAVNSBOLLER — Shrove Tuesday Buns

Makes 12 buns

INGREDIENTS:

For the tangzhong:

5 tbsps.water

5 tbsps.whole milk

3 tbsps. all-purpose flour

For the dough:

5 tbsps. melted unsalted butter, cooled

½ cup whole milk slightly warm

2 tsps. instant yeast

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. fine salt

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 cups + 2 tbsps. all-purpose flour

1 large egg

All of the tangzhong cooled

For the almond filling:

2 cups blanched almonds

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp. almond extract

Pinch of fine salt

½ – ¾ cup whole milk

For the egg wash:

1 large egg

1 tbsp. water

For the sweetened whipped cream:

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

3 tbsps. granulated sugar

Powdered sugar for dusting optional

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Make the tangzhong: Combine water, milk, and flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk until combined and no lumps remain. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Make the dough: While the tangzhong is cooling, begin preparing the rest of the ingredients for the dough. Combine yeast, cardamom, salt, sugar, and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk briefly by hand to combine.
  3. Attach the dough hook to the mixer. Add melted and cooled butter, slightly warm milk, egg and the cooled tangzhong (it can be slightly warm to the touch) to the dry ingredients. Mix on medium low until fully combined.
  4. Increase mixer speed to medium and knead mixture for 3 – 4 minutes or until dough is slightly tacky but not sticky and clears the side of the bowl. It’s okay if it’s sticking to the bottom of the bowl slightly. You can also mix and knead the dough by hand but it will take longer, more like 8 –10 minutes.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for an hour or until 1½ or 2 times its original size. The time will largely depend on the temperature of your kitchen.
  6. Once dough has risen, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, gather up the edges of the dough into a rough ball shape, pinching the dough where the edges come together to create a “bellybutton.” Place the ball, bellybutton side down, on a clean kitchen counter. Cupping the ball with your hand so that your palm is lightly resting on the dough and your fingertips are resting on the counter, make small circles with the dough until a tight ball is formed. Place the ball on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  7. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. Combine egg and 1 tbsp. water to create an egg wash. Uncover the buns and brush each bun with the egg wash. Bake at 400° for 12 – 16 minutes or until buns are golden brown. Cover the buns with a clean dish towel and let cool to room temperature (this will keep the buns from forming a hard crust).
  9. When you are ready to serve, make the filling. Combine almonds, sugar, salt, and almond extract in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until almonds are finely ground. Remove the almond mixture from the work bowl and transfer to a medium bowl. Start by mixing ½ cup of milk into the ground almond mixture. Continue adding milk if necessary, 1 tbsp. at a time, until your filling has a creamy consistency.
  10. Prepare the whipped cream. Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the cream on medium-high speed until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and continue whisking until the whipped cream is fluffy and can hold medium to stiff peaks.
  11. Use a small, sharp knife to cut a triangular “hat” out of the top of the bun and set it aside to use later. Remove some of the inside of the bun using the knife and your fingers  creating a nice cavity for the almond filling. Slice off the bottom of the hat so that it is only ¼-inch to ½-inch thick.
  12. Fill the bun with a spoonful or two of the almond filling. Dollop or pipe whipped cream on top. Artfully arrange the hat on top of the cream. Repeat with remaining buns. Dust tops with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

* The buns keep well at room temperature for about a day (tightly covered once they are completely cool), and the filling can be kept, tightly covered and refrigerated, for 24 hours. Add a little more milk to the filling if necessary to loosen it and bring it back to a creamy consistency.

* Unfilled buns freeze well tightly sealed in a freezer bag. Simply take them out and defrost at room temperature as needed.

* You can freeze the filling (before adding the milk) as well. Again, it should be tightly sealed in a freezer bag. Simply take out as much of the ground almond mixture as you need and let it come to room temperature. Add just enough milk to create a delightfully creamy consistency.

 

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog, www.true-north-kitchen.com.