All throughout Europe, from Candlemas (February 2nd) until Ash Wednesday, glorious festivities abound. This is Carnival, which is a sort of last hurrah before the fasting traditionally observed during Lent.
Though the abstinence requirements in the Western Church are less stringent than they once were, foods high in dairy, fat, eggs, and sugar still feature prominently before Lent, since many of these recipes date back to a time when all of these luxuries were prohibited for 40 days.
The Finns eat these cardamom-infused buns on Shrove Tuesday. They come in two varieties of fillings: raspberry jam or almond paste. A native Finn has informed me that these are never to be mixed. Below, I provide the recipe for both types so that you can try them both (separately, of course).
The dough used in these Laskiaispulla is almost identical to that which you can find in Norwegian school bread (Skolebrød), so if you master one of these recipes, you’ll be able to make the other quite easily!
Finnish Shrove Tuesday Buns | Laskiaispulla
Sweet Bun Dough
- 500 ml whole milk 2 cups
- 150 g unsalted butter 10½ tbsp
- 1 tbsp ground cardamom
- 90 g granulated sugar ½ cup
- 17 g instant yeast 6¼ tsp, if using active dry yeast: 20g/7 tsp, if using fresh yeast: 50g
- 800 g bread flour 5¾ cups, strong flour (UK)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg whisked with 1/2 eggshell's worth of milk
Almond Paste Filling (enough for 6 buns)
- 200 g almond paste 7 oz
- 3½ tbsp whole milk
Raspberry Filling (enough for 6 buns)
- 340 g seedless raspberry jam 12 oz
- 475 ml heavy whipping cream 1 pint
- 25 g powdered sugar ¼ cup
- pearl sugar for sprinkling
- powdered sugar for sprinkling
- something sticky like corn syrup (or golden syrup, maple syrup, or honey)
Making the Dough for the Buns
- In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk with the butter and the cardamom. Don’t simmer or boil the mixture, just gently heat the milk to melt the butter and steep the cardamom in the warm liquid. This will help to bring out a stronger cardamom flavor in the finished buns.
- Transfer the warm mixture to a bowl to cool down to about 98℉ / 36℃ before moving on to the next step.
- Now, add the cooled milk mixture to a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add in the yeast and sugar, and stir them in to dissolve. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to bloom the yeast before adding in the other ingredients.
- With the machine mixing on low speed, gradually add in the flour and salt. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl once all of the flour is incorporated. If the dough is too wet, add in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough reaches the right consistency. Knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes, or until it can pass the windowpane test, which is where you stretch a small piece of dough and if it doesn’t break and you can see light through it, then the gluten has properly developed.
- Put the dough in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set it in a warm spot to rise for 30-45 minutes, or doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, punch down the dough and then divide it into 12 equal pieces. You can eyeball the dough sizes, or you can weigh your dough in grams and then divide that number by 12. That number is the amount of grams each dough ball should weigh. Cover the balls of dough with plastic wrap while you shape them, so that the ones you aren't working on don't dry out.
- Form each piece into a bun by pulling in all sides towards the middle and pinching them together. Then put the seam side down on your work surface and roll the ball of dough under your hand in a circular motion to seal the seam. Place the formed buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet spaced a couple of inches apart. They fit best arranged 3 x 3. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, brush them with the egg wash and bake them in a 425℉ / 220℃ preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. You may want to swap the baking sheets halfway through baking for more even coloring. When finished baking, remove them to a rack to cool completely before filling them. These will take about 1-1½ hours to cool.
Shaping the Buns
- There are two ways to shape the buns. To make buns with triangle tops, use sharp kitchen scissors to make three cuts down into the bun in the shape of a triangle. Peel off the top of the triangle and set it aside for later use. Dig out the remainder of the bread from the rest of the triangle in the bun. Set these bread pieces aside to be used in the almond paste filling. Do this for 6 of the buns.
- To make circular tops, use a serrated bread knife to slice off the top third of the bun. Do this for the remaining 6 buns. Use a circular cookie cutter to clean up the top circles for a more finished look, or leave them as is for a rustic look. Set them aside for later use.
Almond Paste Filling
- To make the almond paste filling, grate the almond paste and add it to a food processor, and combine it with the milk and leftover bread pieces. Pulse until you reach a smooth consistency. Spoon this into the 6 triangular sliced buns. If you want to fill all 12 buns with almond filling, you will need to double the almond paste ingredients.
- Spoon the raspberry jam into a piping bag. If you don't have a piping bag, you can use a resealable plastic bag and spoon the jam to one corner and snip off the tip to make an opening. Evenly pipe the jam in a circular motion on each bun. If you want to fill all 12 buns with raspberry jam, you will need to double the amount of jam that the recipe calls for.
- Beat the heavy whipping cream in a large bowl together with the powdered sugar until you reach stiff peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a piping bag fit with a wide fluted tip.
- Pipe the whipped cream onto each bun on top of the filling in a decorative fashion.
- Put the triangles on top of the whipped cream on the almond paste filled buns.
- Sprinkle the triangle cut buns with powdered sugar.
- Brush the circle tops with something sticky like corn syrup, golden syrup, maple syrup, or honey and dip them in a bowl of pearl sugar. Put these decorated circle tops on top of the whipped cream on the raspberry filled ones.