Yesterday, it was my first time that I tasted one of the most traditional Swedish pastries, “semla” (plural-semlor). It’s made out of a wheat flour bun seasoned with cardamom, filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Traditionally they’re eaten on “Fat Tuesday” (the last day before the lenten fast) but nowadays you can find them in pretty much any café or bakery in Sweden from new years until easter. I really like it and because I wanted to find a good recipe so I searched in one of my favourite blog “call me cupcake”. Linda Lomelino in her blog share with us her delicious recipe and a video which show us how we make them.
For the dough:
25 g fresh yeast
1/2 cup cold milk
2 1/3 cups (325 g) all purpose flour
1 medium egg
3 tbsp + 1 tsp (50 g) granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp salt
100 g (1 scant stick of butter) soft butter, cut in pieces
1 egg + 1 tbsp water
100 g blanched almonds (or 100 g almond flour)
6 1/2 tbsp (100 g) granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
splash of unwhipped cream, as desired
25 g blanched, finely chopped and toasted almonds (toast chopped almonds in 175°C (350°F) hot oven for 5 minutes)
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 – 1 tbsp powdered sugar, to taste
pinch of vanilla powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Extra powdered sugar
Make the dough:
1. Grind cardamom seeds using a pestle and mortar.
Crumble yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add cold milk and stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Add all other ingredients for dough except the butter. Work the dough using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, then add the butter a few pieces at a time.
2. Work the dough for another 10-15 minutes or until it is very soft and elastic. The dough should not stick to the bowl at this point and you shouldn’t need any extra flour for kneading.
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes in the bowl.
3. Form balls of dough, about 70-80 grams for each bun. Using your palm, press each ball of dough against the table and roll in circles until the bun is smooth and shiny (imagine almost massaging it!). Cup you hand around the bun without too much pressure and swirl it around in a circling motion to shape it into a round ball.
4. Carefully transfer balls to a baking sheet covered with baking paper (remember to leave some space between buns). Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for at least 1 hour (preferably 1 1/2 hour).
5. Heat oven to 225°C (430F). Stir together the egg and water in a small bowl. Lightly brush buns with egg wash.
6. Bake buns for about 10-13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
For almond filling:
1. Mix 100 g blanched almonds with granulated sugar, preferably in a food processor. Add as much water as needed to form a paste.
2. Grind cardamom seeds with a pestle and mortar and add ground seeds to the almond paste. Add vanilla and 25 g finely chopped toasted almonds.
3. Cut the “lids” of the buns, and make a small well in the middle. Save the crumb from the buns and add to the almond paste. Add a splash of unwhipped cream to desired consistency. Fill the holes in the buns with the almond filling.
4. Whip the cream with some powdered sugar and vanilla. Pipe or spoon cream on top of the bun, then put the “lid” on top. Powder with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.