Semlor are a Swedish bakery classic, unique to the Easter season. What exactly is inside this dreamy puff of goodness, you ask? A semla is a golden cardamom bun that has been hollowed out, filled with almond paste and whipped cream, topped with its own hat and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Rolling the dough between my palms and watching them turn golden in the oven, I was instantly transported to my grandmother Elsa’s home in Sweden; remembering how she made these for me and my brothers when we visited her in the springtime. After my grandfather died, she moved away from the beloved farm into a small house near the coast. She brought familiarity into this new space with the food she made. These little buns remind me that there is continuity and love in the traditions we bring to the table.
Ingredients for 14 Semlor:
- 1 cup milk
- 7 T melted butter
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1/4 t salt
- 3 T sugar
- 1/2 t cardamom
- 1 egg
- 3 2/3 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 200g (one package of Odense) almond paste
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 T sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- powdered sugar
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. The mixture should be lukewarm, but not hot. Sprinkle the yeast in the bottom of a big bowl and pour the lukewarm butter & milk mixture over it, stirring. Sprinkle a bit of sugar in to help activate the yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. Add the remaining ingredients (salt through flour), working it into a dough ball. Cover the dough with a clean towel and let it rise for 15 minutes.
3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Break the dough into 2 evenly sized pieces. Shape each into about 7 smaller dough balls, placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cover the buns with the same clean towel you used earlier and let them rise for 20 minutes.
4. Glaze the buns with an egg wash before baking: whisk an egg in a small bowl and dip the top of each bun into the egg mixture. Place them back (eggy side up) on the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, and let them cool.
5. Mix your almond paste together with the milk to make a creamy paste. Make some whipped cream by blending together the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla together under high speed with a mixer.
6. To assemble the semlor, cut a little “hat” off the top of each bun. Scoop out the inside of the bun with a fork (taste test!). Fill the hole you’ve created with a bit of the almond paste, and then top with whipped cream. Place the hat back on, and sift some powdered sugar on top. Enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Recipe adapted from Johanna Kindvall’s Kokblog.