Shrovetide is a wonderful time to visit Finland, when you can delight in scrumptious cream sleigh buns called Laskiaispulla.
Laskiainen is the season associated with Shrove Tuesday in Finland, which heralds the beginning of Lent. It’s often described as a ‘sledging or sliding’ festival when families enjoy the snow and sun after a hard winter. After spending time sledging outside, it’s customary to serve pea soup with ham and cheese, with sleigh buns or pancakes to follow as a dessert. It sounds a real treat!
What are Laskiaispulla?
The soft cinnamon buns called Laskiaispulla have a sweet filling of whipped cream with strawberry or raspberry jam or almond paste. They apparently became popular in Finland from the 19th century onwards. My UK friends who have family in Finland often rave about these mouth-watering concoctions and have passed on this recipe from their Finnish relations.
What you need
For the dough:
1 sachet/10g yeast (or 25g fresh yeast)
100g granulated white sugar (infused with vanilla extract)
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cardamom
420g plain flour
For the topping
Flaked almonds (optional)
For the filling
500ml double or whipping cream
150g icing sugar
Jam (Strawberry or Raspberry) or Almond Paste
(Makes about 20 buns)
How to bake
Warm the milk to 37C. Place the milk in a large bowl, add the yeast and mix together well. Whisk in the vanilla sugar, salt, and cardamom. Stir in the flour gradually to make a dough and knead it until it becomes elastic. Add the butter and continue to knead for about five minutes.
When the dough has formed a smooth ball, place it in another greased/oiled bowl, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes. The dough should double in size.
Put the dough onto a well-floured surface. Cut pieces of the dough and shape into round balls. Place them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover the buns with a towel and let them rise again for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200C. Whisk the egg and brush it on the tops of the buns. Sprinkle granulated sugar or chopped almond paste on top if desired. Then bake the buns for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Whip the cream with the icing sugar (reserving a little icing sugar to sprinkle on the buns later). Slice the buns and fill with cream and strawberry or raspberry jam or almond paste. Sprinkle icing sugar on top if desired.
More family connections
There are striking resonances between these sweet buns and similar buns which are popular traditional fare in other cultures. In fact, they are a close cousin of our own Devonshire and Cornish Splits, which are both made with yeast and served with jam and clotted cream.
Other family likenesses are the brioche type buns Maritozzi, made in the Lazio region of Italy. These contain dried fruit and pine nuts and are filled with whipped cream and a drizzle of honey. Roombroodjes, which are cream buns or rolls from the Netherlands, are also popular as a special treat to serve with coffee. They all sound wonderful!
If you enjoyed Laskiaispulla, here’s another Finnish recipe for Runeberg Cakes which are a firm favourite with the Finnish family of my UK friends. Or for a more traditional Shrove Tuesday celebration, there are Pancakes to be tossed and flipped.