Shrove Tuesday: Tallinn's lenten buns in review

Lenten buns at Reval Cafe.
Lenten buns at Reval Cafe. Source: Reval Cafe

Shrove Tuesday in Estonia often involves one or more of a few key traditional elements, including sledding, pea soup and — a perennially popular favourite — puffy lenten buns topped with whipped cream. While the signature white boxes of four have been available in grocery stores for weeks already leading up to the holiday, some prefer fresh buns straight from cafes to mark the day. ERR investigated what options were available around Tallinn on Tuesday — and at what prices.

While decades ago lenten buns meant fresh, puffy pastries topped with hand-whipped cream as a rule, recent years have seen new trends in variations of the sweet treat. Jam filling has already become commonplace, but more and more frequently, one can find buns with cardamom, chocolate or marzipan, and the latest trend is vegan lenten buns, where the whipped cream topping is made from a plant-based alternative such as coconut milk.

The cheapest lenten buns ERR could find on Tuesday were offered by Vesivärava Café, a cafe on the edge of Kadriorg Park that is popular with the locals. Traditional, jamless buns with whipped cream cost €1 each.

Vesivärava Café lenten buns. Source: Vesivärava Café

The legenday Narva Café, known best for its kringels, offered both buns with whipped cream only for €1 each, and buns with whipped cream and cherry jam filling for €1.30.

Narva Café lenten buns. Source: Narva Café

Reval Café, a chain with several locations across the capital city, likewise offered buns both with and without cranberry jam, the former for €1.40 and the latter for €1.20 each.

Reval Café lenten bun. Source: Reval Café

Hotel Olümpia's Cafe Boulevard, which produces many popular baked goods, offered two different kinds of lenten buns on Tuesday — without jam for €1.70 and with cranberry jam for €1.90 each.

Cafe Boulevard's lenten buns. Source: Cafe Boulevard

The cafe chain Pagaripoisid likewise offered two kinds of buns, but sold them in pairs. Two classic lenten buns topped with whipped cream cost €1.80, or €0.90 each, while two lenten buns with whipped cream, cherry jam filling and chocolate topping cost €2, or €1 each.

Pagaripoisid lenten buns. Source: Pagaripoisid

Muhu Pagarid, known best for its fresh black breads, also branched out on Tuesday, offering lenten buns at all of its locations. Traditional lenten buns with whipped cream and buns with redcurrant jam filling both cost €2 each.

Muhu Pagarid's lenten buns. Source: Muhu Pagarid

Cafe Lyon, a small, Tallinn-based chain specialising in French baked goods, offered lenten buns both with cherry or blackcurrant jam filling or without, and all at the same price of €2 each.

Cafe Lyon's lenten bun. Source: Cafe Lyon

Vegan restaurant Vegan V offered vegan-friendly lenten buns whose whipped cream topping was made with oat milk. The buns cost €2.50 each.

Vegan V's (vegan) lenten buns. Source: Piret Tali/ERR

Faehlmanni Cafe offered whipped cream-topped buns both without jam, for €2.50 each, as well as with strawberry jam, for €2.80 each.

Faehlmann Cafe's lenten bun. Source: Aleksander Krjukov/ERR

ERR's in-house cafe and canteen Mahe Punane offered buns without jam and with raspberry or blueberry jam, all at a price of €2.50.

Lenten buns at Mahe Punane, ERR's in-house cafe and canteen. Source: Urmet Kook/ERR

At its two Tallinn locations, Gourmet Coffee offered traditional lenten buns with whipped cream for €2.80 each. The cafe also had the traditional pea soup on its menu on Tuesday.

Gourmet Coffee's lenten buns. Source: Gourmet Coffee

Ristikheina Cafe with its three locations in Tallinn was among those offering the most expensive lenten buns this year, with toppings and fillings including cream cheese whipped cream, lingonberry jam, cherry jelly and marzipan. Its cheapest buns cost €2.70, but its most expensive, including a vegan version with raspberry jam and coconut milk whipped cream, cost €3 each.

Lenten buns at Ristikheina Cafe. Source: Ristikheina Cafe

Kadriorg's Katharinenthal likewise sold lenten buns for €3 apiece on Tuesday, offering options including with and without jam and with and without cardamom.

Katharinenthal's lenten buns. Source: Kathanrinenthal

Located in the same city district, NOP Cafe and Shop likewise offered expensive lenten buns, whose prices topped out at €3.20 for vegan buns with coconut cream. Non-vegan buns with blueberry-cardamom jam and whipped cream cost only slightly less at €3 each.

NOP Cafe's lenten buns. Source: NOP Cafe

Those who were unable to make it to a cafe, made it too late or considered these options too expensive altogether also had the chance to seek out the popular buns from grocery store cases, where the buns are usually sold in sets of two, four or six, frequently in white boxes that are a familiar sight around town during this time of year.

The cost per bun is certainly lower this way, although they will not have been as fresh as those baked the same day at various cafes. But they may have nonetheless been enough to satisfy one's sweet tooth on Tuesday.

The nutritional makeup of an average lenten bun: 208 calories at 51% carbs, 41% fat, and 8% protein. Source: Estonian Health Care Museum.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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