Yesterday it was Fat Tuesday or as it is known in French: Mardi Gras. Here in Sweden the ultimate treat on Fat Tuesday is semla, a sweet cardamom bread roll, filled with almond paste and cream. It is supposed that you eat a semla on Fat Tuesday and every Tuesday until Easter. It is so delicious, even King Adolf Frederick of Sweden died after consuming too many in the 1700's.
Every year before Fat Tuesday, bakeries, cafes and supermarkets are filled with semlor, but I couldn't resist making my own. Try it and you will not be disappointed. Accompany it with a cup of hot coffee or tea, or you can eat it like in the old times in a hetvägg, that is in a plate with hot milk around it. You will enjoy it any way you eat it.
So, here is the recipe I used:
Recipe adapted from here
75 g butter
200 ml (1 cup) milk
25 g dry yeast or 50 g fresh
60 g (4 tablespoons) sugar
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 egg + 1 extra egg for brushing
490 g (3 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100 ml (½ cup) milk
250 g almond paste
200 ml (1 cup) whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
icing sugar for sprinkling
Start by melting the butter, add it in the milk and warm the mixture until it is lukewarm (37°C), a little warmer than your finger. Place the yeast in a bowl or the stand mixer bowl, add the milk mixture and stir. Add the cardamom, sugar, salt, egg and the flour keeping about ½ cup of the flour for later. Knead the dough by hand or with the hook attachment of your mixer until it becomes smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, place it in a warm place and let it proof until double in size. It will take 30-60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 225°C/435°F. Mix the flour you have kept with the baking powder. Punch the dough add the remaining flour mixture little by little and work it. If you see that your dough doesn't take more flour don't force it.
Place your dough on a work surface and divide in 12 equal pieces. Form the dough pieces into rolls, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a towel and place at a warm place. Let them proof for 30 more minutes.
Slightly beat your egg, add a little water and brush the rolls with it. Bake them in the middle of the oven for 5-10 minutes. Mine needed about 6 minutes. Be careful not to overbake them, these buns need to be soft. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
When your buns are cool prepare the filling. Place the milk in a bowl and grate the almond paste over it. I add a crushed almond to it so that it is crunchy. If you like it smooth don't do it.
Cut the top of each of your buns. With a spoon make a well to each bun by taking out the inside of them. I like to take most of it so that my buns are full of filling. Place the crumbs you took out in the filling bowl. Mix them all together and fill the buns with it. You will need about 1 tablespoon of mixture for each bun.
In a bowl place the cream and the vanilla sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. With a spoon, put a dollop of cream to each bun or pipe it. Place the tops you cut before on the top of each filled bun and sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy!
If you are not going to consume 12 buns, you can make half of the filling and cream and freeze the rest of your buns.