These buns may look familiar -- if you read my post on Denmark, you'll know that these are Fastelavnsboller, the most delicious thing I tried while in Aarhus. Fastelavnsboller, also known as Shrovetide buns, are a Danish treat that precede the Lenten fast and are eaten traditionally on February 15, when Danish Carnival is celebrated. Obviously, we are over a month past February 15, but I think any time is a good time to eat these.
While the modern art museum and the Rothborg castle were lovely, the highlight of the trip was Småkage Huset, the amazing bakery we found in our neighborhood, where we first tried fastelavnsboller. The ones that Småkage Huset makes were so delicious that Allie, Gabriele and I each had one in the morning (we wanted to try both the vanilla and chocolate flavors) and then bought some to eat later on that afternoon. In fact, they were so good that they made me deeply resent the large display of cornetti* in the cafe' where I have breakfast (they would never be as good as fastelavnsboller!) and regard my usual cereal/yogurt breakfast with utter disdain (how could I go back to eating such a normal breakfast after what I had tried in Denmark?!)
Thankfully, my Danish cookbook has a recipe for these, so my fastelavnsboller withdrawal phase has come to an end. This recipe did not disappoint. These buns were a bit cakier than the ones we tried at Småkage Huset, but still fantastic, with a vanilla custard filling and chocolate glaze. The custard can be baked right along with the bun, so no need to worry about filling these afterwards. These may have a lot of components (bun, glaze, filling) but none of the three are at all difficult to make, and would be awesome on a Saturday or Sunday morning or great for brunch. Note that these do not keep well, but not eating them all at once anyways is a feat in itself. Enjoy!
*Cornetti are the classic Italian breakfast food, often eaten alongside a cappuccino -- think of them as croissants, but sweeter and with less butter.
Ingredients for the buns:
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast (also called cake yeast)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
Ingredients for the filling:
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch or 2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
pinch of salt
Ingredients for the icing:
1 egg white
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cream
Pour the water into a bowl and stir in the yeast until dissolved. Combine the butter and sugar in another large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in one whole egg and the extra yolk. Briefly warm the milk on the stove. Add the milk to the yeast mixture, combine, and then stir the yeast and milk mixture in to the butter mixture. Stir in the flour and salt, a little at a time, and mix to a soft dough, adding more flour if necessary.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly flowered surface and knead until smooth. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with a towel, and leave in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
To make the filling, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a pan. Whisk in the sugar, flour, and milk. Add the salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens an coats the back of a spoon. Leave to cool.
Lightly grease two baking sheets. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and divide into four. Cut each part in to 4 pieces and shape in to balls. Place on the baking sheets. Make a well in the center of each roll, and fill it with a spoonful of the cream filling. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it over the buns. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool completely.
To make the icing, beat the egg white until stiff. Stir in the powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt and beat until soft. Stir in the cream and beat for 1 minute. Place a spoonful of icing over each bun, covering the cream filling, and serve. Note that these are best eaten the day they're made. Makes 16 buns.