Thursday, September 29, 2011

Swedish Semlor

I love anything involved with cream or custard. Cream puffs are just a complete celebration of the gorgeous lusciousness that is custard, which is why, naturally, I'm in love with them. After seeing gorgeous photos of Swedish semlor on Pinterest, I was intrigued and decided to find out a little bit more about them.

The Swedish have this lovely tradition called 'fika' which is basically a time in the day where they take the time to relax with some coffee and pastries. I think it's the most lovely idea ever, if only we could all take some time out of our busy lives to enjoy some fine company and fine pastries - I think it would do us all a big favor. Anyways, semlor are the Swedish version of cream puffs, but a little bit more involved and fragranced with the slightest bit of cardamom and almond.

 Soft, cardamom spiced buns filled with custard and whipped cream and topped with just a bit of powdered sugar... come on now, how can it not be good? Plus, they're really pretty too!

Swedish Semlor
Yields: 8 large buns or 16 mini buns
Adapted from here.

1 large egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup warm milk
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom, plus more for filling
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup milk, or as needed
3 oz. marzipan
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
powdered sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg with the melted butter and milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1/4 cup sugar, salt and ground cardamom. Once the yeast has softened, stir the flour mixture into the milk mixture until a soft dough forms. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Sift together the remaining flour and baking powder. Stir into the risen dough, then knead until smooth. Form into 8 equal balls or 16 if you'd like smaller buns. Place onto a greased baking sheet, cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 35 - 40 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the buns for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown and the center is firm. Cool the buns on a wire rack until room temperature. Once cool, cut about 1/2" thick slice off the top, set aside. Scoop or cut out the center of the buns, leaving a shell about 1/2" thick. Tear the removed bread into small pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Add the milk and marzipan to the mixture and process until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. It should be the consistency of pudding. Add the almond extract and a pinch of cardamom and process until combined. Scoop this mixture into the hollowed buns. Whip the cream with 2 tbsn. of sugar to stiff peaks. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the filling to 1/2" over the top of the bun. Replace tops onto the buns and dust with powdered sugar.


  1. I'm in Sweden right now (believe it or not!) on exchange and I have to say I have become accustomed pretty quickly to the Swedish tradition of fika. It's basically a right here that the Swedes must have fika at least once a day.
    These look absolutely delicious! I'll have to try and find some when I have fika next!

  2. Wow i wouldn't usually eat custard, but those are so beautiful. AND i LOVE LVOE LOVE that font. What is it?

  3. not just pretty, they are stunning! :)

  4. ok, that's sound so delicious.
    I want to bake it ,right now.

  5. @ EHisCDN: omg, i'm so jealous! would love to see Sweden someday. i think fika is the most awesome idea ever :)

  6. These look adorably delicious! I'm such a sucker for anything dusted in icing sugar.

  7. Semlor are really a seasonal for lent. But usually available from January untill Easter. So they won't be available at the moment.

  8. i'm kinda obsessed with the swedes right now, after seeing the IKEA web series last night.

  9. Ah, these make me long for February. Here in Sweden we usually only eat Semla around a certain time of the year (it's a tradition) and it feels way too far off at the moment. Although the stores and bakeries have started "cheating" having them for longer periods than they should...

    We usually use almond paste though, not marzipan, but combined with almond extract its probably a pretty good substitute.

  10. @ waruji: i love almond paste so much more than marzipan! i was wondering why all the recipes i had found used marzipan, but now that i know that it's more traditional to use almond paste, i'm gonna try them again!

  11. There are many different variations on the filling in recent year but almond paste is the tradition. Personally I wouldn't call it a semla without the almond paste.

    The way my mom makes the filling is to carve out a hole in the bun like you did and mix the pieces she scooped out with whipped cream(not whisked, and milk is a perfectly acceptable substitute) and almond paste. Usually we let the semla stand in the fridge a few hours with the filling before adding the whipped cream at the top. It tends to make it... I don't know a good word for it but less dry, juicier?

    Well, that's the way my family does it. Some bakeries over here just add a pure almond paste without mixing it with anything.

    I don't know why so many recipes would say marzipan but from what I've seen of I get the feeling almond paste isn't as common over in America?