Gluten-free Shrove buns Finnish-Style

Pancake Day is just around the corner. As a day, it was something new to me when I first moved to the UK from Finland, since there we celebrate Shrove Tuesday with shrove buns. They are cardamom flavoured yeasted buns filled with whipped cream and jam or almond paste. You might have heard of or had Semlor before, that’s what the Swedes call their Shrove buns. As I understand it, in Sweden the filling is typically whipped cream and almond paste – in Finland it’s more of a debate between almond paste and jam. I sort of suspect the cardamom in the bun to be a Finnish thing – if you disagree, can you leave me a comment if cardamom is used also in other Nordic countries or wherever shrove buns are made, my search suggested that they would be also enjoyed in Estonia.

The FInnish Shrove buns are filled with whipped cream and typically jam, almond paste is the original option.
In Finland Shrove buns are typically flavoured with cardamom and filled with whipped cream and jam or almond paste.

When I grew up, jam and whipped cream has always been our family’s choice. I think raspberry jam is generally the one to use, but again I remember we have used strawberry in our family.. So if you want to switch it up to your personal preference, go ahead!

Gluten-free cardamom buns

When I was diagnosed as coeliac, I sort of though my days eating the traditional Finnish cardamom buns in their different forms were gone. I had the notion that making the yeasted dough fluffy and having the correct texture would be extremely difficult. Luckily I found a recipe online that proved me wrong! The recipe is from a Finnish recipe site so there might be a bit of a language barrier but I’ll reference the original recipe here in order to give credit when credit is due.

The recipe had to be changed a bit for UK conditions – fresh yeast is not so readily available here in shops so I substituted it with dry yeast and made a starter for the dough. Also ground cardamom is not very easy to find so I tend to bash green cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle, remove the husks and then grind the seeds. It’s a bit fiddly, but as the freshly ground cardamom is so much stronger in flavour than the one you’d get in the shops, you will need a lot less, 15-20 pods is plenty. I have used pearl sugar on top of the buns, because for me it’s the right thing to do. I have found it in Ocado’s Scandi-shop. You can substitute it with granulated sugar or flaked or crushed almond if you find that easier.

The unfilled cardamom buns are a tasty treat in themselves with a cup of coffee or tea.
The Finnish cardamom buns are delicious with a cuppa on their own but filled Shrove buns are an extra special treat.

I made the buns lactose-free by using lactose-free butter and milk, you can also use Stork margarine to substitute butter. Lactose-free whipping cream is also available in most supermarkets.

The original recipe was for buns with butter-centre and that’s the beauty of the bun dough – once you know how to make it, you can make all sorts of different types of buns from it. This recipe is for the basic buns, which you can then cut in half and fill with whipped cream and jam or the almond paste to see yourself why us Nordics love our Shrove buns so much. Or you can just eat them as they are with your cup of tea or coffee.

Basic gluten-free cardamom bun recipe

Ingredients:

  • 75 g butter
  • 2.5 dl (1cup) milk
  • 10 g gluten-free dry yeast (check ingredients to ensure it’s safe for coeliacs, not typically labelled gf)
  • 1 dl sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (15-20 pods, remove husks and grind)
  • 3/4 tbsp ground psyllium husk
  • 1 egg
  • 7 dl gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

On top:

  • 1 egg (for egg-wash)
  • Pearl sugar/caster sugar or almond flakes/ground almond
Brush the risen buns with egg and sprinkle pearl sugar, granulated sugar or flaked or ground almonds on top for decoration.
Brush the risen buns with egg, then sprinkle either pearl sugar or almond flakes or ground almonds on top as decoration.

Method:

1. Mix the dry yeast with 1-2dl of the flour and mix in with warm milk (around 42C, careful that’s not too hot but needs to be warm to the touch). Add sugar, salt, cardamom and psyllium husk in and mix.

2. Cover with a tea towel and let rest in a warm, draftless place for 10min.

3. Melt the butter in microwave (remember to cover, will spit).

4. Add the baking powder in with the remaining flour and add them, the egg and the melted butter into the bubbling starter. Mix with spoon or hand until combined, you can knead it a bit.

5. Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for another 20min.

6. When the dough has risen, form 10-12 buns from the dough with gf floured hands and place on a baking tray on top of non-stick baking paper.

7. Cover the buns and let them rise for an extra 20min.

8. After they have risen, slightly beat the egg and brush the top of the buns with it. Sprinkle the pearl sugar (or granulated sugar) or almonds on top to decorate.

9. Bake in a 200C (185C fan assisted) oven for 10-15min until golden brown. You can check if the bottom has browned and if the bun sounds hollow when you tap ir.

To make the buns into Shrove buns, when cooled, cut the buns in half and fill with jam of your preferrence and whipped cream which has been sweatened with sugar and flavoured with vanilla (as mentioned before, the option to jam is almond paste). If you want things extra authentic, dig some of the inside of the bun away to make more room for the filling and mix the bun crumbs into the whipped cream.

Are you encouraged to give these a go? Do let me know by replying how you got on. If you make these and Instagram about it, please tag me @gf_lifetweaks, I’d love to see your bakes!

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