Battle of the Birthday Cakes

It seems that everyone has a cake they prefer to get on their birthday, and in our family, it’s come down to two frontrunners, one a flashy store-bought treat, the other a homemade favorite. In one corner, we’ve got what we call the “choo-choo-train cake” from Baskin Robbins. Many of you might remember this cake from your childhood: chocolate cake and ice-cream (usually strawberry or vanilla flavor) rolled into a cylinder and decorated to look like a train. Large cookies form the wheels, an upside-down cone forms the smoke stack, and the rest of the details are created with large quantities of frosting. Continue reading

Big Fat Success: Fat Tuesday Buns

If a dish has the word “fat” in the title, you know it’s got to be good.  Granted, in the case of Fat Tuesday Buns, the reference is to Fat Tuesday, a day allocated to gluttony and overindulgence, not the bun itself, but this Swedish treat still lives up to its name.

When you bite into a Fat Tuesday Bun, you will inevitably get whipped cream everywhere.  But the messiness makes it better.  And finally, after one disastrous attempt at making this dish last week, I achieved Fat Tuesday Bun success!

The first time around, I just couldn’t get anything right.  I’m still working on perfecting my recipe, but here’s what I did, just in time for Fat Tuesday (coming up next Tuesday, March 8).

Fat Tuesday Buns, or Semlor as they’re called in Sweden, are cardamom-spiced rolls filled with whipped cream and almond paste.  As a kid, the cardamom flavor was too strong for me, so my mom and I made plain rolls and followed the rest of the recipe.  I have a feeling that as an adult, (and the much more open-minded about different flavors person I’m slowly becoming,) I would probably feel less strongly about the cardamom as I did with my young taste buds.  But considering the baking disasters of last week, I didn’t want to take too many chances.  I thought, this time, I’ll make it the plain, old way, and do more experimenting on the next go around.

I used a recipe for plain dinner rolls from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I’m thinking that even the Pillsbury Crescent rolls should work well as another shortcut.  Just before putting the rolls in the oven, I brushed the tops of the buns with egg to make they would have that beautiful, golden crust on the top.  After baking and allowing to cool slightly, I cut the tops off the buns, making sure to keep the matching top with its corresponding bottom.  I scooped out the inside of the rolls, leaving a little less than ½” around the sides and bottom (think mini bread bowl).  Putting the scooped-out bread in a bowl, I moistened that with milk and combined with almond paste (you can also use marzipan, the outcome will just be sweeter).

Plain buns just out of the oven
Prepped and ready for filling

The filling went back into the hollowed-out buns, which were topped with whipped cream I sweetened with powdered sugar.  Each bun’s top was then placed atop the whipped cream, and the bun got a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  I didn’t wait long to take my first bite, but the remaining buns kept well in the refrigerator for several days. After enjoying this batch that stayed true to my memories from childhood, I’m ready to try making the more authentic cardamom version next.

One messy bite
Ready to enjoy