Semlor: Swedish Almond Cream Buns

Swedish Semlor

Semlor: Swedish Almond Cream Buns

These fresh cream buns have a hidden filling of almond paste and are delicately flavoured with cardamom while the fresh cream topping is luscious and inviting. You have to give these Semlor buns a go!

Now usually when I share a recipe inspired by my travels I’ve usually eaten it. I’ve tasted it, made notes about it and often photographed it too.

Not so for these semlor! I wanted to find them while I was in Sweden, but in the 3 days I was in Stockholm I didn’t come across them. To be honest, they didn’t cross my mind until after I’d left: I’d tried Princess Cake and endless cinnamon rolls but no semlor.

Semlor are traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day to us Brits, and throughout Lent, so they probably weren’t available in the run up to Christmas. That’ll be why I didn’t see them.

 

Luckily for me though, I met Jennifer on the ferry over to Finland and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. She posted a photo to Instagram last week of some semlor she’d baked for her boyfriend (after eating a ‘wrong’ one in Finland) and I swooned at her photo! Yes please, recipe please Jennifer!

She blogged her semlor (in Swedish, use Google Translate) and explained why the Finnish ones were wrong. I just had to have a go, even just so I could try one!

Swedish SemlorThe recipe turned out perfectly, with a few tweaks to make it UK-friendly as it’s hard to find fresh yeast in super-rural north Yorkshire.

I say perfectly, actually the first batch was a disaster, the pan I used to scald the milk must have retained the onion-y garlic flavours of the Egyptian Fuul I’d made in it the night before because the buns tasted rather odd and savoury! It was one of those days where one mistake lead to another, the dough seemed a little ‘heavy’ and I ended up under-baking them too, getting to grips with the Aga.

The second batch turned out perfectly, and I discovered that Semlor are absolutely delicious!

Swedish Semlor
This recipe has been adapted from ICA’s recipe for classic Swedish Semlor (in Swedish) which is the recipe Jennifer used. I’ve tinkered with it to make it more UK-friendly by using dried, fast action yeast rather than fresh yeast which has simplified the process of making the dough. 

The original recipe uses, from what I can establish, plain white flour. I’ve used both strong bread flour and a half/half combination of plain flour and strong flour, both with no noticeable difference. I did bake my first batch with plain flour but I wasn’t happy with the dough and I also under-baked them, I was probably having an off-day but I feel happier using strong flour.

Swedish Semlor

For the dough:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 g (a little less than 1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced or cubed
  • 1 + 1/2 sachet (1 + 1/2 tbsp) (10 g) of fast-action dried yeast
  • 500 g (3 + 1/2 cups) strong white flour (I used 1/2 strong and 1/2 plain flour)
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 85 g (2/5 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg

For the filling:

  • 100 g marzipan
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) double cream

To finish:

  • icing sugar to dust

Begin by scalding the milk: pour it into a saucepan and heat gently to almost boiling point. Take of the heat and add the chopped butter and the salt, stirring to melt. Leave to cool.

Into a large mixing bowl sift the flour and the ground cardamom, stir in the yeast and sugar.

Beat the egg and reserve a tablespoon of it to brush over the buns before baking, now add the rest to the cooled milk/butter.

Add most of the liquid to the flour mix and begin to bring the dough together, you will probably need all the liquid, add a spot more milk if you need to.

Once the dough has come together, knead it for around 8 to 10 minutes until soft and smooth.

Place into a clean bowl, slash the top to help it relax and cover with cling film or a tea towel, allow to prove for 30 mins to an hour in a draft free corner of the kitchen, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 200º C / 400º F / gas 6, line a large baking sheet or roasting tin with parchment.

Once it has proven, punch the air out of it in the bowl then turn it out onto the work surface. Now divide the dough into 10 equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball: I do this by placing the piece onto the work surface and forming a ‘claw’ over it with my hand, rolling into over the work surface, it forms a perfect ball.

Place the buns onto the prepared baking sheet and cover loosely with a tea towel. Allow to prove for 15 to 20 minutes.

Brush the buns with the remaining tablespoon of beaten egg and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until risen and golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

Now to turn them into Semlor:

Once cool, carefully slice of the top of each bun then using a teaspoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon – remember them? – would be even better) scoop out some of the insides of the buns to create a hollow, and place the removed crumbs into a mixing bowl: do not discard.

Grate the marzipan into the bowl of breadcrumbs and mix to combine, adding enough milk to bring it together into a soft paste.

Place tablespoonfuls of the almond/breadcrumb paste into the hollows of the buns, until they are fairly full.

Whip the double cream to soft peaks, I do it by hand so as not to over whip it. Now pipe or spoon the cream over the filled buns and balance the ‘lids’ back on top.

Dust with icing sugar to finish them off.

Swedish Semlor

Semlor
Tradition Swedish Almond Cream Buns
Print
For the dough
  1. 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 100 g (a little less than 1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced or cubed
  4. 1 + 1/2 sachet (1 + 1/2 tbsp) (10 g) of fast-action dried yeast
  5. 500 g (3 + 1/2 cups) strong white flour (I used 1/2 strong and 1/2 plain flour)
  6. 2 tsp ground cardamom
  7. 85 g (2/5 cup) caster sugar
  8. 1 free-range egg
For the filling
  1. 100 g marzipan
  2. 2 – 3 tbsp milk
  3. 500 ml (2 cups) double cream
To finish
  1. icing sugar to dust
Instructions
  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat gently to almost boiling point. Take of the heat and add the chopped butter and the salt, stirring to melt. Leave to cool.
  2. Into a large mixing bowl sift the flour and the ground cardamom, stir in the yeast and sugar.
  3. Beat the egg and reserve a tablespoon of it to brush over the buns before baking, now add the rest to the cooled milk/butter.
  4. Add most of the liquid to the flour mix and begin to bring the dough together, you will probably need all the liquid, add a spot more milk if you need to.
  5. Once the dough has come together, knead it for around 8 to 10 minutes until soft and smooth.
  6. Place into a clean bowl, slash the top to help it relax and cover with cling film or a tea towel, allow to prove for 30 mins to an hour in a draft free corner of the kitchen, until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat oven to 200º C / 400 º F / gas 6, line a large baking sheet or roasting tin with parchment.
  8. Once it has proven, punch the air out of it in the bowl then turn it out onto the work surface. Now divide the dough into 10 equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball: I do this by placing the piece onto the work surface and forming a ‘claw’ over it with my hand, rolling into over the work surface, it forms a perfect ball.
  9. Place the buns onto the prepared baking sheet and cover loosely with a tea towel. Allow to prove for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Brush the buns with the remaining tablespoon of beaten egg and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until risen and golden.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.
Now to turn them into Semlor
  1. Once cool, carefully slice of the top of each bun then using a teaspoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon – remember them? – would be even better) scoop out some of the insides of the buns to create a hollow, and place the removed crumbs into a mixing bowl: do not discard.
  2. Grate the marzipan into the bowl of breadcrumbs and mix to combine, adding enough milk to bring it together into a soft paste.
  3. Place tablespoonfuls of the almond/breadcrumb paste into the hollows of the buns, until they are fairly full.
  4. Whip the double cream to soft peaks, I do it by hand so as not to over whip it. Now pipe or spoon the cream over the filled buns and balance the ‘lids’ back on top.
  5. Serve dusted with icing sugar.
Adapted from ICA website
Adapted from ICA website
Vagabond Baker http://vagabondbaker.com/
Swedish Semlor

Pin this post for Easter!

Swedish Semlor // a perfect lent treat // Cream buns filled with almond paste

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By Rachel A Davis

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10 Responses

  1. I said I will check out your baking (and other) posts and boy am I glad I did! These look absolutely delicious though I’ve almost never actually needed to make dough / bread before as usually lean towards easy cakes and bakes but these sound so tempting so I’m keen to give them a go!
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…A Foodie in Cuba – A Mini Guide to Havana’s Best Restaurants & BarsMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Hey Shikha!
      So glad you’ve had a look around here! I just love making bread, I find it so therapeutic. And I do find myself feeling very smug when I produce stuff like these semlor 😉
      The more bread/dough you make, the more instinctive it becomes, the more you get to know how the dough should feel. Don’t let this put you off trying though! Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ series on the BBC was great, I found that really informative, if you can find that online/iPlayer it’s well worth a watch.
      Just message me on FB or here if you need any help!

  2. Bengt C says:

    You might want to try eating them in the traditional, old school way: Put a semla in a deep plate and pour some warm milk, heated with sugar and vanilla, or possibly cinnamon, over it. A spoon might be helpful for eating.

  3. Oh my goodness, these look totally gorgeous.
    Janice (@FarmersgirlCook) recently posted…Lentil and Vegetable SoupMy Profile

  4. I love Semlor, I have never had the courage to make them, reading this has inspired me to give it a try.
    Anita-Clare Field recently posted…Some Like It : Hot Sticky Tabasco ChickenMy Profile

  5. These look AMAZING!! I love anything almond-y! And creamy! Your buns look so perfect too! Well Done Rachel!
    Sus @ roughmeasures.com recently posted…Lemon and Rosemary DonutsMy Profile

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