My grandmother was a keen cook. She was always in her kitchen baking and basting, pickling and poaching. She was every good at using seasonal ingredients and throughout her life she collected recipes from newspapers, magazine friends and family. When she passed away a few years ago I inherited her treasure-trove of recipes and whenever I need a recipe for a classic dish I always look take out her fabulous collection which she meticulously kept in a little black box on index cards neatly written in her small handwriting – it has never failed me yet.
A week ago I was sitting in a small Copenhagen cafe with a friend. They had a tray with freshly baked ”kærnemælkshorn” – buttermilk horns – on the counter, and I simply had to have one. They took me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen and sitting on her kitchen table looking at her rolling out the dough for my favourite treat. Later in a nostalgic mood I took out my black box of recipes and voilá – a recipe for buttermilk horns from 1961, thank you grandma!
Buttermilk horns are an old school Danish classic and a real treat, somewhere between a pastry and a bun. They are made from a buttery yeast dough with buttermilk – don’t worry they don’t taste like buttermilk – rolled around a creamy almond filling and finally sprinkled with sugar and chopped almonds just before they are baked. They make a delicious afternoon treat for tea or a wicked breakfast on a special Sunday morning.
Grandma’s sweet buttermilk horns
Makes 20-24 buttermilk horns
500g wheat flour
50g caster sugar
2 dl buttermilk
10g fresh yeast
A pinch of salt
100g caster sugar
100g marzipan (at least 60% almonds)
An egg for brushing
A handful of finely chopped almonds
A handful of nib sugar
Start by making the dough. Mix together flour, salt and sugar and work in the butter until the texture is like coarse breadcrumbs. Lightly heat the buttermilk until it is a little warm and mix with the yeast. Pour the liquid into the butter and flour mix and quickly mix together until it is just smooth. Do not knead the dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge, preferably overnight but at least 5-6 hours.
For the almond filling, knead the marzipan with the sugar and then work in the butter until the texture is smooth. The almond filling can be made in advance and kept in the fridge.
Divide the dough in two. Roll each into a circle using a bit of flour, so the dough does not stick. Each circle should have a diameter of around 35-40 cm. Cut each circle into ten or twelve triangles.
Place a large teaspoon of almond cream on each triangle and roll them up starting at the broadest end. Make sure to fasten the ends securely so the buttermilk horns do not come apart in the oven.
Brush the horns with egg and sprinkle them with finely chopped almonds and sugar.
Bake for 18-22 minutes at a 180 degrees Celsius.Keep an eye on them during the last third of the baking time so they do not get too dark.
The buttermilk horns are best served fresh out of the oven, but they also taste great when they are cold – if you like you can reheat them in the oven for a few minutes just before serving. They are also great to freeze and this way you always have a treat for unexpected company. Simply wrap the unbaked horns carefully in plastic or put them in an airtight container. Bake from frozen at a 180 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes.