Fastelavn is a Nordic holiday celebrated on Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. It is similar to the American Halloween where children dress in customes and beg for candy. Some towns may have a parade followed by the traditional “slå katten af tynden” which is a wooden barrel that has cats painted on it and is filled with candy. The children takes turn hitting the barrel with a bat and the one to hit the bottom out, spilling the candy, is crowned “kattedronning” (queen of the cats). Hitting of the barrel continues and the one hitting down the last plank is crowned “kattekonge” (king of the cats).
If the children go door to door begging for candy they will come to the door and sing a little tune called Boller op, boller ned. This song basically says: Buns up, buns down, buns in my stomach, if I get no buns, then I will make trouble. The buns mentioned in the song is reffering to the Fastelavnsboller which is a popular pastry served on this particular day.
There are many different varieties of Fastelavnsboller recipes. Some is made from a Wienerbrød dough and some are a regular yeast dough. Some are prefilled with a custard or jam while others are sliced open and then filled with a custard or whipped cream filling. The Fastelavnesboller which I made here is a regular yeast dough which was prefilled with custard. I absolutely adore custard and would (if no one was watching) eat it by the spoonful. However, for these particular Fastelavnsboller which I choose to prefil and then bake, it turned out that the wonderful custard got almost completely absorbed into the bread and loosing its intensity. So next time I make this recipe I think I’ll prefil with jam instead because the jam still has its intensity even if some of it gets absorbed into the bread.
2 deciliter milk (1 cup)
25 grams butter (2 tablespoons)
50 grams cake/fresh yeast (or 4 teaspoons dry active yeast)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
450-475 grams flour (3 3/4 cups)
1 additional egg for glazing (optional)
1 vanilla bean
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
your favorite jam (if using)
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup confectioners sugar
Sprinkles for decorating
In a small saucepan heat up milk and butter to finger temperature, melting the butter. Break up cake yeast and place in a small bowl, pour warm milk over and stir to dissolve yeast. Add sugar, salt and egg, stir to mix. Add flour a little at the time, stir to combine. Note: it may not be necessary to add all the flour. Knead the dough until smooth. Leave dough in bowl and cover with a dry tea towel. Place in a warm location and let rise for 1 hour.
While dough is rising, make the filling. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with the tip of a knife. Place vanilla seeds and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale in color and fluffy. Add cornstarch and mix together. While continuing to beat the eggs, slowly pour half of the hot milk into the eggs to temper it. Then pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and return to low temperature on the stove. Continue to whisk mixture over low temperature until the custard starts to thicken, making sure the custard does not boil. Remove from heat, place in a small bowl, cover with cling wrap directly on the custard surface to prevent a skin from forming and place in refrigerator to cool.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Lightly dust with flour and turn dough out onto the working surface. Knead dough a little until smooth and elastic. Roll out into a 40 by 40 cm square (15 x 15 inches) and cut dough into 12 pieces. Place a heaping teaspoonful custard or jam (if using) in center of each square. Using the leftover egg whites, brush the edges of the square dough to help seal the edges. Fold each of the four corners up to the center and press to seal all edges, letting the air inside escape. Turn the dough ball over, tuck under all edges and place on baking sheet with seam side down. Repeat with remaining squares. When done forming dough balls, cover with a dry tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm location.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). After dough has been allowed to rise, break open an egg and lightly beat it in small bowl. Brush egg-wash onto each dough ball before baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before icing.
To make icing, combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix until desired thickness (somewhat thick but spreadable). Spread icing onto each fastelavnsbolle and place sprinkles on top before glaze sets. Enjoy.