I’ve come to realize that the Swedish classics are grossly underestimated, in my book at least. I mean, the cinnamon bun and the semla are definitely on my top ten list of favorite pastries. Maybe even my top five list. So I’m kind of working my way through the classics and thoroughly enjoying it.
If you’re a fan of cinnamon buns (and my guess is that you are), you will looove this recipe. It’s exactly like cinnamon buns except filled with homemade almond paste (the classic recipe uses the “regular” cinnamon bun filling though) and vanilla custard.
And I know that everyone who ever made this recipe in Sweden makes a joke about it. ‘Butter’ means grumpy in Swedish. Tasting this will not make you grumpy. Quite the opposite. On the other hand, Swedish is kind of a funny language. We use the same word for ‘married’ as we do for ‘poison’ (‘gift’). Strange. And yes, I am aware of the fact that ‘kaka’ means something completely different in certain languages.. In Swedish it simply means cookie or cake. Today’s Swedish lesson. But I digress.
You know what is annoying? I was shooting a great tutorial to go with this recipe but when I was done, I realized I had accidentally set my camera on manual focus. Doh. The camera was on my tripod and could barely see what I was doing. Needless to say, I do not like working with a tripod. I do hope the instructions are clear enough anyway!
WITH ALMOND PASTE AND VANILLA CUSTARD
10-12 buns, makes two 20 cm cakes
Recipe adapted from here
Notes on this recipes
-This recipe does make 12 buns even if there are only 9 pictured. I baked three of them separately so we would have something to nibble on whilst I was shooting! And also, I was eager to use my smaller cast iron pan.
-If you can’t find fresh yeast, I’m sure the dry varieties would also work! I’m not so used to working with dry yeast though. Google is your friend!
-I always use salted butter when baking, if using unsalted, make sure to add en extra pinch where butter is used.
-The custard is enough for a fairly small blob in each bun, if you’re a fan of custard and think you want more, make sure to double the custard recipe.
-If you can’t find pearl sugar (I’m pretty sure you can buy some at Ikea!), coarse sugar like demerara would also work.
For the dough
20 g fresh yeast
1 cup (250 ml) milk
5 tbsp (75 g) softened butter
1/3 cup (70 g) granulated sugar
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 3/4 – 3 cups (390 – 420 g) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
For the custard
1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp (100 ml) heavy cream
3 tbsp milk
1/2 vanilla bean
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
For the almond paste filling
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (45 g) almond flour (or 45 g whole almonds)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp water
4 tbsp (60 g) softened butter
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
For the eggwash
1. Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Heat the milk to 37°C (98°F) and pour over the yeast. Stir until yeast is dissolved.
2. Add the butter, sugar, cardamom, flour (beginning with the smaller amount and add more if needed) and salt, and knead the dough by machine about 15 minutes, or by hand about 20 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny and doesn’t stick to the bowl.
3. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the custard and almond paste filling.
1. Combine cream and milk in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add seeds and bean to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.
2. Whisk together the yolk, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl until combined. Pour the hot milk mixture over the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Remove the vanilla bean.
3. Return mixture to saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. It should become quite thick, almost like softened whipped butter. Do not let it boil or it will curdle. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap to avoid a skin from forming.
Almond paste filling
1. Put the almond flour and sugar in a food processor or blender. Add water (beginning with the smaller amount) and pulse until a paste forms. Add the softened butter, cinnamon and salt and pulse until smooth. Set aside while rolling out the dough.
Roll out dough
1. Heat the oven to 200°C (390°F).
2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 1 minute or until smooth and shiny.
3. Roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 48 x 25 cm (19 x 10 inches).
4. Spread an even layer of the almond paste filling over the dough. Roll up dough tightly from one long side (so you have a roll that is 48 cm long). Cut roll into 12 slices (you do not need to trim the edges, just put them cut side up in the pan).
5. Prepare two 20-22 cm (8-9 inch) pans. Put a piece of parchment paper inside as pictured, or grease them with butter. Put 6 dough slices in each pan, making sure to not crowd them too much – there should be a little bit of space between them (the picture below is after rising).
6. Cover the pans with clean kitchen towels and let rise for 40 minutes.
Filling the buns + baking
1. Carefully make a small hole in the middle of each bun, using the back of a spoon or your finger for example. Put the custard in a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe a blob of custard in each hole. You can also just spoon the custard into the buns, but piping makes it a whole lot easier.
2. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the buns with the egg, try to work around the custard filling with the brush. Sprinkle with pearl sugar.
3. Bake the buns in the lowest part of the oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes. If the tops are browning too much, carefully place a piece of aluminum foil where needed.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool under a clean kitchen towel. They’re best eaten the same day, but they’re also quite delicious the next. They also freeze well when baked. Just make sure to let them cool completely before freezing.