Swedish Christmas version of Japanese Melonpan – a soft bun clothed in a cookie.
In a country where we have very little sun during a big part of the winter, we need delicious baked goods to keep us happy. And we really do! Starting from the fourth Christmas, leading up to leading up to Christmas, Swedes celebrate Advent. Originally a Christian holiday, but celebrated by most, and usually centered around eating soft saffron buns and crisp gingerbread cookies. I wouldn’t judge you if you had both (quite the opposite), but I figured out a way for you to have both at the same time.
I got the idea from Japanese melonpan, and wrapped an almond paste-filled saffron bun with gingerbread cookie dough, and dipped it in gingerbread spiced sugar (which also spares us from having to do a traditional egg-wash on these vegan buns!). And while I was at it, I made two breads as well. Breads are so great for when you are having company over, as everyone can cut their own size.
The recipe for the buns is a tweaked, veganized version of one I have used before, by Swedish pastry chef Roy Fares. For the gingerbread cookie dough I took a shortcut and used a pre-made, but if you make your own it’s best to let it rest for at least one day in the fridge to develop the flavors. Lastly you just mix together a gingerbread sugar, which is also lovely with rice pudding!
Vegan Christmas Melonpan with Almond Paste-Filling
Serving: 12 buns + 2 breads
- 1 g saffron
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 2 cups full fat plant-based milk (5 dl)
- 50 g fresh yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (8,5 dl)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (5,5 dl)
- 150 g vegan butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (2 dl)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 500 g gingerbread cookie dough (pre-made)
- 250 g almond paste
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 125 g vegan butter, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp hot water
- If you are using saffron threads; start by grinding them up with a teaspoon of sugar, before adding a tablespoon of hot water or milk, to draw out the saffron aroma. If you are using already powdered saffron you can go straight to soaking it in hot water.
- Warm up the milk to 37°C (100°F), and dissolve the yeast in it. Add in the flour and start kneading, until nice and smooth (note that it will be very wet at this stage). Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes. I like to put the bowl on top of another bowl of hot water, to help the rising-process.
- Make sure to mash up the softened butter before adding it with the rest of the dough ingredients. Knead it for several minutes until it has become a smooth and pliable dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Mix together the almost paste-filling, using your hands or a mixer.
- Divide the dough in two, and roll it out into a thin rectangle. Spread out half of the almond paste, and fold the dough over. Roll it out slightly, and cut into 12 squares. Grab one square at a time, and roll in the edges, tucking it into a round ball and sealing the bottom by pinching it shut.
- Roll out circles of the gingerbread cookie dough. I use the same technique as with Chinese dumplings, where I roll the edges slightly thinner to make it fit better on top of a bun. You can also roll out the dough and use a round cookie-cutter or a a cup to cut out circles. Put a circle on top of each one of the buns, and carefully pat the edges sealed.
- Mix together the gingerbread sugar. Grab the buns from the bottom, and dip the tops in the sugar mixture. Grab a dough cutter or a knife, and cut a criss-cross pattern on the bun.
- Place buns on a baking sheet, cover, and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C/390°F (or 180°C/350°F if using a convection oven), and bake buns for 12-15 minutes.
- Using the rest of dough (1/2 of the original), divide and roll into two rectangles. Spread on the almond-paste filling, and roll from the short side.
- Roll out a rectangle of the gingerbread cookie dough, and adjust by cutting the edges. Dress the bun with the cooke dough.
- Pour some gingerbread sugar on a flat surface. Roll the bread in the sugar mixture.
- Place the bread on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet. Use kitchen scissors and make deep, slightly angled cuts, and alternate between laying each cut roll on the opposite side. Cut, place to the right, cut, place to the left, cut, place to the right – and continue that way until you have finished the whole log.
- Heat oven to 200°C/390°F (180°C/350°F convectional oven). Bake slightly lower down in the oven, for about 20 minutes.
- If you are making the breads without the gingerbread, you can brush the breads with a sugar wash. Mix boiling water with sugar, and brush breads hot out of the oven. Sprinkle on some pearl sugar if you’d like.
Tip! You can use gingerbread sugar instead of regular sugar in the almond paste-filling.
Enjoy the buns with some hot, mulled wine! And remember to tag #umaminom on Instagram if you make these. I would love to see it!