Good in Any Shape or Size: Icelandic Almond Rolls (Möndlusnúdar)

It's no secret that almond is my favorite flavor. Se recently when I was in the mood to make yeasted bread, I decided to try a recipe for Icelandic Almond Rolls (Möndlusnúdar) from Beatrice Ojakangas in The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. They are similar to cinnamon rolls, but with an almond filling. The recipe calls for a large quantity of almond paste and it so happened that I had one 300g brick of Odense Mandelmassa LYX (almond paste that is 60% almonds) remaining from our trip to Sweden last year; the Odense almond paste sold in the United States contains only 45% almonds. When I measured out the one cup of almond paste required for the recipe, it weighed 275 grams -- leaving me with the perfect amount for a little snack (oh yes, I have no problem eating almond paste plain!).

To make the dough for these rolls, I combined dissolved yeast, scalded and slightly cooled whole milk, softened butter, sugar, salt, and eggs; and added flour until the mixture would not readily absorb any more. The recipe specifies 6 to 6.5 cups of flour and I ended up using 900 grams of King Arthur all-purpose. I covered the bowl containing the dough; let it rest for 15 minutes; and kneaded it by hand until it was smooth and satiny. It was a large quantity of dough and a little challenging to knead for that reason. At least the dough wasn't sticky and I didn't need to add any additional flour. I put the dough in a greased bowl and let it rise until doubled it size.

I rolled out the dough on parchment into a long rectangle about 30-inches long by 14-inches wide. The dough was very easy to handle and didn't stick or shrink. I spread on the almond filling, which was a mixture of almond paste, egg, sugar, butter, and vanilla that I had blended in the food processor. (The headnote to the recipe says that these rolls are "filled with almond paste and cinnamon," but cinnamon is not listed as a filling ingredient or mentioned in the directions -- so I'm not sure if the headnote is incorrect or the cinnamon was inadvertently omitted from the recipe.) I rolled up the dough, cut it into slices (I used dental floss for clean cuts), and dropped each slice into a paper-lined cup in a muffin tin. The slices were too large to fit neatly into the cups, so some of them were laying in the cups at an angle, some were distorted after I tried to cram them in, and in general, I was pretty concerned about how they were going to look after baking. I let the rolls rise again before putting them in the oven.
I baked the rolls until golden, brushed on a glaze (powdered sugar, heavy cream, and almond extract) immediately after taking them out of the oven, and sprinkled on some toasted sliced almonds. The rolls had risen into various shapes during baking. For instance, the one on the left in the back row in the photo above ran out of room to expand sideways and instead rose upwards into a tall tapered spiral. The one on the right in the back row had an angled top since I had laid the roll diagonally into the muffin tin to get it to fit. The one in the center front has a divot in the middle because I had formed it into a concave cup to fit the edges inside the tin. However, many of the rolls (like the ones on both ends of the front row) turned out relatively neat and even.

Notwithstanding their inconsistent appearance, these rolls were wonderful. I don't have a photo of the interior of the rolls, but there wasn't much to see. The almond filling was so pale that it was nearly invisible. The bread had a lovely light texture and was slightly sweet. The filling was so deliciously almond-y and I loved the crunch from the nuts sprinkled on top. I also liked the ease of serving these rolls in individual paper cups. However, they would probably turn out more consistent with less hassle if they were just baked as pull-apart rolls in a single large pan. Alternatively, I have some snack cake pans with straight-sided puck-shaped cavities that are wider in diameter than the cups in a standard muffin tin (think of a pan that makes small cakes the shape of Ding Dongs), and I think they would be ideal to bake a batch of these rolls.

Recipe: "Icelandic Almond Rolls (Möndlusnúdar)" from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas.

Other Sweet Rolls:


Unknown said…
HOw can I get a copy of this recipe?
I will email it to you!
Louise said…
I've made many recipes from this thirty year old book, but I haven't made this. Now it's on my "to bake" list.
I haven't baked much from this cookbook -- do you have any recipes you recommend?