March 03, 2011

Shrove Tuesday buns with almond butter and berry ricotta

Admittedly I am taking a false start by sharing this recipe with you today, but lets just blame it on my impatient nature and the fact that Shrove Tuesday - or laskiainen as we call it in Finland is one of my favourite days of the year. What is there not to like when traditions for the day include things like snow sledding and eating pea and ham soup and pancakes? This coming Sunday is in Finland known as 'Shrove Sunday' and I personally think traditional Shrove day pastries are allowed for any day of this week.

Traditional Shrove Tuesday pastries are known as laskiaispulla (Shrove Tuesday bun). They are cardamom buns filled with marzipan or jam and whipped cream and yes, of course they are delicious! My version, however, is a rather modern take on these buns. It's a version that is completely guilt-free but definitely tasty.

So what have I done differently? Firstly, I've left out the yeast and made a quicker version by using baking powder. Secondly, I've used white, unbleached spelt flour instead of plain wheat flour. I've also cut down all butter on the recipe and pretty much halved the amount of sugar. What else? For the filling, I've made my own almond butter (this could be my newest addiction) and used low fat ricotta instead of full fat cream. I've used frozen berries instead of sugary jam and sweetened the mixture with a bit of natural honey. Delicious! 

The good thing about taking a false start is that I get to make another batch for the actual day! ;-)

Shrove Tuesday buns with almond butter and berry ricotta
(Makes 4-5 big individual buns)

{Shrove Tuesday buns}
200ml low fat milk
100ml unsweetened apple sauce
1 large free-range egg
1tsp natural vanilla extract
230g white, unbleached spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
45g brown sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom

{almond butter}*
1,5 cups raw almonds
1-2 drops bitter almond extract (optional)

{berry ricotta}
1,5 cups frozen berries, slightly defrosted
140g low fat smooth ricotta
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
1tbsp raw honey

icing sugar, to serve
hot chocolate, to serve

Start by preheating the oven to 190C. Mix the milk, apple sauce, egg and vanilla in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and cardamom. Pour the milk mixture onto the dry ingredients and fold well to combine. Scoop the batter into prepared cake or muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack. 

For the almond butter, place the almonds on a roasting/cookie tray and bake in 200C for 8 minutes. Leave to cool, then place the almonds in a food processor. Process for 8-10 minutes or until the consistency is smooth and 'butter-like'. Add a drop or two of bitter almond extract if you wish. Set aside.

For the berry ricotta, place the berries, ricotta, vanilla and honey in a bowl and mix well. 

To assemble, cut the tops of the buns and using a spoon, cut a small cavity in the middle of the 'bottom' part of the bun. Fill the cavity with a spoonful of almond butter, scoop some berry ricotta on top and close 'the lid'. Dust with icing sugar and serve with hot chocolate.

*You can store any left-over almond butter in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to three days. It's delicious on toast or with cut vegetables!

Happy Shrove Tuesday (for next week)!