I actually wanted to write more about Lent Buns in my previous post but for some reason my cursor got stuck on the picture of the Lent Buns. That’s not surprising: anyone or anything that gets exposed to Lent Buns cannot be expected to detach themselves quickly. Well, here’s part two.
I mentioned Lent Buns in context with marriage remembering a friend of mine, (let’s call her Shrove Monday) who had the hots big time for another colleague of mine (let’s call her Cardamom). Shrove Monday said that if Cardamom were to come into the office with a pile of Lent Buns, Shrove Monday would have to marry Cardamom. Although some don’t like it, same-sex marriages with or without Lent Buns could soon be on the cards in the UK. We would welcome either scenario, although it doesn’t surprise me that Scandinavia has done its very best to lead the world on this particular issue (that’s same-sex marriage, not whether or not marriage should be accompanied by Lent Buns).
Back to Lent Buns. The one time I made them, I bent the rules rather. They say the classic Swedish bun should include cream and almond paste. They say the classic Finnish bun should include cream and jam (actually I haul myself up here as editor – see the PPS below). I’m sure that’s what I had when I ended up in the excellent Northern Lights restaurant in Brighton recently for an intensive Finnish language weekend run by our good friends at the Finnish School in the same city. (Actually, I have realised I was disingenuous in my last post; on this basis, I have had Lent Buns this year after all.)
But here’s what I have always thought. Why not make them with cream and jam and almond paste? Am I the only person to have committed this culinary heresy? Surely it’s perfect Scandi-upon-Scandi fusion cuisine? My abiding memory is that I made such Lent Buns for a class of fellow Swedish language students and most of them ended up wreathed in smiles (the students, not the Lent Buns).
Now I love cooking, but I know there are millions of people out there who are better cooks than me and that there have been millions of Lent Buns better than mine. The point is that it didn’t really matter – I cooked the buns carefully enough, I added discerning amounts of the magic three ingredients, and hey presto! How can you not like something like that?
Maybe a bouillabaisse aficionado will lynch me for saying this, but I feel the same is true of that magic fish stew. As long as you don’t skip on the terribly important ingredients (lots of varied fish and shellfish, fennel, fennel seeds, orange zest) and you make sure they nestle in a carefully-made broth including vegetables and tomatoes, you will have happy people on your hands. Cooking is not simple – but a magic meeting of certain foodstuffs makes it a lot easier.
PS On reflection, some cooks will feel I am not being technical enough. As Lost in Stockholm wisely pointed out recently, semlor do require a bit of time and graft to make – and everyone should guard against overcooking them. But the recipe featured on that site should serve as a very good template for any fledgling semlor bakers as far as the bun itself goes.
Personally if I made semlor again, I’d make half the almond paste of any sourced recipe and substitute roughly the same amount of jam, making sure each bun gets a bit of all the Magic Three fillings. I might go easier on the whipped cream. And I’d be quite content with eating one. But I only speak for myself. For those of you who think I am being foully greedy, there’s a very nice piccie of some ‘either-or’ Finnish pulla at the Bread with Bubbles blog. And yes, of course I’d hoover up buns with just two fillings in them if they were presented to me. I’m not that prudish….
PPS Actually the above piccie at Bread with Bubbles appears to confirm an observation by a good friend of Worldly Scandifriend, Hanna at the Finnish School in Brighton – to the effect that the Finnish laskiaispulla is usually available in both the almond paste/cream and jam/cream franchises. Worldly Scandifriend apologises for some lax research but re-iterates his point – it’s time to merge all them fillings big time.
(With this kind of autocratic stance – and my obsessive desire to procure and force sweet bakery treats upon people – it’s no wonder some folks have referred to me as a ‘cake pusher’ in the past.)