It has been a while since I posted a recipe for Sweden’s favourite pastry, however this isn’t the classic cinnamon bun, but a sweet treat for the festive season. Swedish Saffron and Almond Buns are divine and reserved for special occasions. And what could be more special than Christmas.
If you follow my blog you’ll know you can find several recipes for flavoured Swedish buns. This is the same method as Fluffy Cardamom Bun dough with a few substitutions. The enriched yeasted dough is flavoured with saffron and then filled with an almond and orange butter. Once proved they are delicately sprinkled with sugar nibs (or almond slivers). The Tangzhong method is used in this recipe, which you may not have heard of. Adding in this simple technique to the process is well worth doing. You will have beautifully light and fluffy buns.
The Tangzhong method originated in Japan. A yeasted bread technique that involves cooking a portion of flour and liquid in the recipe into a thick paste prior to adding the remaining ingredients, resulting in soft, fluffy bread, that stays fresh a little longer. How does this technique affect yeasted bread dough? What it does is it pre-gelatinises the starches in the flour, meaning they can absorb more water. In reality, flour will absorb twice as much hot water or milk as it does the lukewarm water or milk you’d usually use in yeasted doughs.
I so enjoy baking before Christmas. These are an absolute must for me, no matter how busy I am, I always find the time to make a batch or two to pop in my freezer. Very handy to have a supply of treats on hand for impromptu visitors.
Swedish Saffron and Almond Buns
- 17 g strong white bread flour I use organic
- 85 g whole milk
- Tangzhong see above
- 300 g flour
- 135 g whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 65 g butter
- 35 g caster sugar
- 15 g fresh yeast or 5g fast action yeast
- a good pinch saffron
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
Almond & Orange Filling
- 80 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 50 g golden caster sugar
- 70 g ground almond
- 1 small orange zest of
- remain egg mixed with a little milk
- sugar nibs
- Place the flour and milk in a small saucepan. Whisk together with a balloon whisk, on a medium heat until it thickens and bubbles. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl and cover. Once it’s cooled to room temperature, it’s ready to use.
- Begin with the saffron. Grind in a very small bowl with 1/4 tsp sugar. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the ground saffron, heat to 38°C. Remove from the heat and add the fresh yeast, whisk to incorporate (if using fast action yeast add it to the flour). Place the flour, tangzhong, sugar and salt in the bowl of a free standing mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the milk mixture and ¾ of the egg with the machine running. Mix until a dough forms on a slow speed. Once the dough has come together add the butter, increase the speed to medium/high and work the dough for another 5-8 minutes or until it feels shiny and smooth. (If the dough is a little too sticky add no more than 1 tablespoon of flour).
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover and place in the fridge to prove for up to 14 hours or prove at room for 30-40 minutes.
- Combine all of the filling ingredients and set to one side.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C fan.
- Shaping the dough: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into 75x30cm. Spread the almond butter on approximately half of the surface. Fold the dough in half, roll again gently to make an approximate rectangle measuring 40x23cm.
- Cut the dough into roughly 2cm wide strips, I find a pizza wheel good for this job. Twist a strip several times, slightly stretching it as you do so. Now wrap it up into a knot shape, similar to a ball of wool.
- Arrange the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (if they’re too crowded, use 2 sheets), allowing space between each bun. Cover and prove for 30–45 minutes or until approximately doubled in size. (If you have proved the dough in the fridge overnight they will take longer).
- Brush the buns with beaten egg and a little milk and shower with sugar nibs. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Best eaten on the day of baking however they freeze incredibly well, just warm them in the oven after defrosting.
I prefer to use fresh organic yeast when I bake. I realise this is not always available, a dried version would be my second choice. Failing that Fast Action dried Yeast is easy to find in supermarkets.
A great way to do the second prove is to place the prepared saffron buns in the oven SWITCHED OFF with a bowl of boiling water. No need to cover. The buns will prove much quicker because yeast loves a damp, warm environment. Excellent if the dough has been stored in the fridge overnight.