The Semla (or Fastelavnsbolle in Norway and Denmark) is a flour bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream. If you have ever visit Sweden this time of the year, you might have seen “Semlor” in each and every café. It has become something of a carb-packed icon in Sweden. The traditions of Semla are rooted in “fettisdag” (Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday) when the buns were eaten at a last celebratory feast before the Christian fasting period of Lent. Today you find Semlor in Sweden from after New Year’s Eve until Easter. But THE day for the Semla is on Tuesday March 5th.
My Semla is a smaller version – a mini – and therefore you can take two. 🙂
Ingredients (35 mini buns):
- 4 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 2/3 cup whole milk (98ºF)
- 2/5 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 10 tbs butter (room temperature)
- 1 egg (glazing) + 1 tbs water
- 6 oz slivered almonds
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbs cream
- 16 oz whipped cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Start with mixing the yeast with some of the flour (1 cup) in a baking machine bowl and let rest for some minutes.
Heat the milk to 98ºF. Add sugar to the yeast and flour mixture. Then add the lukewarm milk and stir in the stand mixer. Add salt and ground cardamom and let the stand mixer continue to stir. Then add another 1 1/2 cup of the flour in to the mixture, but make sure to add it in smaller amounts at the same time as the stand mixer is continuing to stir.
Then add the egg into the dough. Add the soft butter in small portions in to the dough while stand mixture continue to stir. Finally add the rest of the flour (2 cups if needed) in smaller amounts. Don’t add the whole amount if you find the dough already done (it shouldn’t be too sticky, but also not too hard).
Let the dough ferment for about 45-50 minutes until double size. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel over.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment (or two if you have smaller ones). Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in 3 pieces, and every piece into 11-12 pieces (try to get them equal size). Roll all pieces into round buns with your hands and place on the baking sheet. Leave to rise, covered with kitchen towel, for about 30 minutes until double size again.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly glaze the buns with a beaten egg thinned with water. Bake the buns for about 7-10 minutes (until they are nicely browned). Take them out and let the buns cool down on a grid.
For the filling; if you use slivered almond, place them in a blender and ground the almonds (you can also buy almond flour or whole almonds that you first peel and blanch). Add the sugar and the cream and mix it together to a creamy filling.
Whip the cream until stiff.
Once the buns have cool down, slice a thin portion off the top of each bun and set aside (don’t trough away!). Using a fork, tease out a small layer of crumbs from each bun to make some space for the filling. Place enough of the filling in each hollowed bun so it comes to the edge without going over the side (see picture below). Spoon or a pipe (I use a pipe) a generous whipped cream on top. Cut the “lids” in the shape you wish (round, diamond, heart) and put it back on top of them whipped cream. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
You can prepare the buns before, even refrigerate until the day you want to eat them and then fill them with filling, whipped cream and powdered sugar.