Swedish Almond Cream Buns for Fat Tuesday

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Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardi Gras (which is just “Fat Tuesday” in French), Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day in the UK is the final day before Lent. As a last hurrah before deprivation sets in, many cultures have developed favorite dishes to use up ingredients on the Lenten Naughty List before it’s too late.

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Naw’leans has its King Cake. England has its pancakes. In Sweden, folks celebrate with buns. Not just any buns: Rich, sweet, tender buns stuffed with almond paste and heaping dollops of whipped cream. Decadent they certainly are. But, once a year? I am perfectly happy to sacrifice my arteries.

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Do not be intimidated because this is a yeast recipe. They are super simple to whip up the night before. You can let them do their final rise in the fridge overnight and then pop them in the oven from a fresh treat with breakfast–or whenever you plan to indulge.

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Semlör
adapted from The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson

The original recipe uses canned almond paste, but for one reason and another, I decided to go with raw ingredients. This allowed me to use really fresh almond flour (which has a fabulous flavor and mouth feel) and simultaneously cut down on sugar. Why reduce sugar in a splurge food? The better to spread out my splurging through the day!

Makes 8 buns.

For the buns:

2T sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 T butter, melted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup warm milk
2 1/2 cups flour

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cream

For the filling:

1/2 cup almond flour
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 c. heavy cream + several tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and egg. With the whisk attachment, beat on high for about 5 minutes, until the egg is pale. Add the yeast, milk, cream, melted butter, egg, and flour. Mix well with the paddle attachment at medium-low speed until the dough fully pulls away from the sides.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, sprayed on the underside with more oil, and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper.

After the rise, punch the dough down and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Lay the balls out on the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch or so between each one. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise for another 30 minutes or, alternately, place into the refrigerator overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and cream mixture and bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Slice the tops off the buns, scoop out a bit of the center dough. Place the scooped dough into a bowl with the almond flour, almond extract, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix well, adding cream by the tablespoonful until you have reached a pasty consistency. Return the sweetened dough mixture to the center of the buns, dividing it evenly.

Beat the remaining cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon sugar and the vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Put a heaping dollop of whipped cream over the almond-dough mixture in each bun, then place the tops of the buns over the whipped cream and serve!

(Traditionally, these are served dusted with powdered sugar in a bowl of warm milk, but we just eat them out of hand.)

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