My family looks forward to these decadent treats every year. It is the perfect “last splurge” before the onset of the Lenten Fast at midnight. You can serve them for breakfast or dessert (I’ve done both). Traditionally, they are offered in a bowl of hot milk, but I’m not fond of the way the buns go soggy. I prefer them plain or, if embellishment is called for, to nestle them on a bed of Swedish Hot Vanilla Sauce, which is similar to a Crème Anglaise
Semlör (Fat Tuesday Buns)
from The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson
Makes 8 buns
3 T sugar, divided
¼ c. warm water
2 ¼ t. active dry yeast
½ c. heavy cream
¼ c. water
4 T salted butter
2 ½ c. flour
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 T cream
½ c. almond paste (1/4 lb)
1 c. heavy cream, beaten with 1 T sugar until soft peaks form
In a small bowl, combine 1 T sugar, warm water, and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes until yeast begins to bubble and foam. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 T sugar, and 1 egg and beat with whisk attachment until egg is pale, about 5 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine cream, water, and butter. Heat until warm and butter is melted, but do not boil. Let sit 8 minutes or until temperature drops below 110F. Pour into the yeast mixture.
Add the yeast-cream mixture to the egg and stir to blend. Add flour and beat with dough hook until dough forms; if necessary, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 3 tablespoons. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes more. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. Brush buns with beaten egg and cream mixture. Bake until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.
To fill the buns: Cut off the tops and scoop out a small part of the center. Blend almond paste with the dough scooped from the center of the bun and a small amount of milk for a milder texture and flavor. Fill with 1 tablespoon of almond paste mixture and top with 1 heaping tablespoon of whipped cream. Place top over the whipped cream and dust with powdered sugar. Serve in a bowl of warm milk with a spoon or on a plate with a dessert fork.
Note: To make almond paste, grind ½ c. skinned almonds with ½ c. powdered sugar until fine. Add a small amount of raw egg white or cream to combine.