Mar 01

Semlor : Swedish Cardamom Buns





So, I am unemployed as we speak.
Cons : I feel anxious about finding a new job, and soon. I worry about my bank balance all the time. I don’t like feeling like a dependent to my partner.

Pros : I get to bake and cook all day, everyday. Enuff said.


And what do we have today on the blog? These adorable buns filled with almond paste and towers of fresh cream called Semla (Semlor for plural).
I have been talking (a lot) to my Swedish pal Powser again. Since I am effectively a ‘bum’ I do have the time to devote to being online more as well and we spend the greater part of most days talking about food, gaming strategies and world politics.


This week marks the pre-Lent season and yes, I made the obligatory pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Carnivale is being celebrated all over the world in various forms and all I can think about it attending another one of those parades. I have been to the one in Switzerland, now I want to experience Mardi Gras either in Brazil or in New Orleans … maybe attend the famous Venice Masked Balls. Alas, bums have to contend with staying at home looking up jobs and not fantasizing over international travel and parties in far off lands.


The concept of Semla is simple: it is the equivalent to the pancakes we eat on Shrove Tuesday. The Swedes call it Fat Tuesday whereby they use up all the indulgent ingredients in their pantry in preparation for Lent and the fasting season; very similar concept to the practices around the rest of Christendom. These buns come in small elegant little portions to very big ones. I have another friend who lives in Sweden and she is obsessed with these buns when they hit the bakeries. Just looking at the ingredient list I have to say I was already interested in trying out one myself. A simple Google search produced a whole host of recipes and instructional videos which I got to review and takes notes from.

In principle:

  1. Make sweet fortified milky buns flavoured with cardamom
  2. Make almond paste
  3. Top with fluffy whipped cream and dust with icing sugar






Semla recipe.



25 g of fresh yeast
250 mls milk, heated
260 g plain flour


1 large egg
85 g sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cardamom kernels, ground
150 g butter, melted
160 g plain flour



This recipe starts with a pre-ferment, a kind of starter dough to get the yeast going. Warm up the milk until the first wisps of steam start to rise; you should still be able to dip your fingers into it without it being overly hot.

Crumble the fresh yeast into the bowl of flour and pour the warm milk over everything. Mix well and set aside for 15 – 20 mins.


Next you want to combine all the other ingredients into the pre-ferment to form the actual dough. If you have ever made cinnamon buns, you get the idea.
Add the egg, suger, salt, cardamom, butter and extra flour to the bowl. Place on the mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix on low for 7 mins.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and increase speed up to medium and knead the dough for a further 7 – 10 mins until the dough is thoroughly mixed and is shinny and soft.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set the bowl aside in a warm place to allow the dough to rise, about 1-2 hours.





After the first rise the dough would have risen to 3x it’s original volume. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough gently and take pieces and roll into 60 g dough balls.
Place dough balls onto a tray with wax paper. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave aside for the second rise. Make sure there is enough space in between each roll to accommodate expansion; you don’t want the dough balls to touch one another.





While you wait for the dough balls to rise you can prepare the filling.
You can prepare the filling the traditional way or you can simply do what I did and use pre-made store bought Marzipan.
If you want a more traditional filling then follow the recipe below.



Almond Cream Filling

200 g ground almond meel

200 g sugar

2 – 3 tbsp cold water

Creme Pattissier

5 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp custard powder

300 mls full cream milk

15 g cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 tsp ground cardamom (or half tsp if you want a more subtle flavour)



Place almond meel and sugar into a food processor and pulse while adding the cold water until a chunky paste forms. Set this aside.

Make pastry cream by heating up the milk and vanilla bean + pod.

In a bowl mix egg yolks with sugar and custard powder until a smooth, thick yellow paste forms.

Once the milk starts to steam pour it into the bowl with the yolks, stirring constantly to temper the emulsion. Once fully combined pour everything back into the pot and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Stir constantly and pay close attention to the mixture when it starts to thicken.

Remove from the heat and add in the cold butter.

Cover with plastic wrap and press the sheet onto the surface of the custard. Chill completely for 2 – 3 hours. You can do this the night before.

Before using, combine the custard with the almond paste to produce a creamy almond custard paste which you will pipe onto the bottom of each bun.




For the buns, preheat the oven to 210°C / 410°F.

Brush each bun with egg wash.

Place trays in the middle shelf and bake the buns for 10 – 12 mins until the tops are golden and the buns are cooked through.

Cool on a wire rack.



For assembly simply cut out the tops of the buns and scrape out the insides of each bun.

Fill the bottom with almond custard cream or Marzipan.

Pipe whipped cream to fill the rest of the space in the bun and make sure you pipe a generous amount on the top of the bun as well like a cupcake swirl.

For the whipped cream I simply whipped ice cold whipping cream with a little powdered sugar and a drop of vanilla extract.

Top each bun with its original cap and dust with powdered sugar.






These were so good, indeed they really tasted very indulgent and rich. I can see why the Swedes consume this treat as part of the pre-Lent season.

You can either eat this bun on its own or place it in a bowl of warm milk and eat it like bread pudding. Mmmm, comfort food at its best!

I’d like to thank my gamer buddy, Powser, for introducing me to this delightful pastry and also for being my translator while we read through Swedish recipes online.




~ Enjoy ~









Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/sweet/semlor-swedish-cardamom-buns

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