28 March 2010

Estonian Lenten Buns...and bunnies and duckies and tap-dancing Barneys

When I saw our dear Pille's recipe for Vastlakuklid (Estonian Lenten Buns I knew I had to make them. Rich, tender and flavoured with cardamom, how could I not make them?

Well, that was three or four years ago.

Just before each subsequent Easter I have every hope and intention of making her perfect buns. But then...well...I forget. Yes, even though I can recall many conversations word-for-word (ask any of the men I used to go out with), at times I cannot keep a simple, seasonal foodish intention in my mind long enough to follow it through to fruition.

It was almost the same story again this year. Almost.

Long after I declared my Lenten promise a disasterous foray into self-improvement, I remembered the buns. Those lovely, cream and jam-filled buns. Well, if I can't actually get around to 100 pages of pleasure reading every day during Lent, I can get these buns done. Yeah, it was probably safest for those around me that I not give up chocolate, caffeine or anything that keeps my few shreds of sanity firmly within my possession.

Since it's Easter, I also decided to use some of the dough and revisit the
bunny-shaped bread I made a few years ago. I mean, how perfect would it be to make a Lenten bread in the shape of a cute little Easter bunny? Well...

In that last rise, my lovely little bunnies took on lives of their own and turned into...edible instances Gestalt figure-ground principle (yes, those pictures that could be interpreted in more than one way, like the old woman-young woman picture).

Except my tray produced what some people would call bunnies...while other would see...I don't know...a toucan, a little lamb with a bow, a tap-dancing Barney, a mollusc, a duckie...some sort of leaping Pokemon character.

This isn't the first time my yeasted goods have taken on some sort of figurative bent.

Based on this, I'm sure I can come up with some sort of side business as a baker-teacher-cum-therapist: I teach people how to make delicious yeasted breads and when the treats are done, analyse the buns (or doughnuts) to help them lead a happier and less neurotic life...and one filled with tasty, tasty buns.

I'm late in making these (I hope Pille will understand)--they are traditionally eaten the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, much like pancakes are eaten here in Canada. These buns are easy to make have a light cardamom flavour. Split them open and fill them with sweetened jammy cream, jam (apricot, lingonberry or blueberry would work nicely), orange curd or even marzipan.

Vastlakuklid: Estonian lenten buns
adapted from
Pille of Nami-Nami's Vastlakuklid: Estonian lenten buns

Yield 12 buns

250ml (1c) hand-hot milk
6g (1.75tsp) dry yeast
400g (3c less 2.5Tbsp) ap flour
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp ground cardamom (seeds from 4 pods)
100g (0.5c less 1Tbsp) butter, melted and cool
1 egg, lightly beaten

cream or lightly beaten egg (optional)

Dissolve the yeast into the milk. Stir in approximately half the flour until fully incorporated. Cover with cling and let double in volume in a warm, draft-free place (about an hour).

Combine salt, cardamom and the rest of the flour and add to the yeasty mixture. Add the butter and the egg and mix well. Turn out to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, but not tacky.

Return to proving bowl, cover and let double in size.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F; line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Punch down and divide into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, and place on lined baking tin. Let rise for about 30 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.

Brush on cream or beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cover with a teatowel while cooling.

Split the buns and fill with sweetened or flavoured cream, jam, curd or marzipan.


I'm a quill for hire!

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glamah16 said...

Your bunnies remind me of some buns I got at a Japanese market. I lov Easter baking as its way more beautiful and appealing than heavy Christmas items.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

These are too cute for words!!!!

Amy B. said...

The bunnies are adorable! Good job :-) i bet they're yummy too

Pille said...

Oh, Jasmine, zillion apologies for only getting back to you now :O I'm so thrilled you tried my lenten buns - and they look so adorable when shaped as little bunnies.
Actually, being a mum to two little "bunnies" myself now, I might shape them as bunnies next year myself :)

Mike Dean said...

Dont they look lovely, and now that Christmas is quick fast fading away and Easter fast approaching, these Easter treats should hopefully once again bring you all the hope and intention of making this perfect buns treat...