Next week we will be celebrating Fasching here in Germany, but you might call it Mardi Grass, or Carnival. The day is traditionally one of indulgence and different countries have different foods that they make to celebrate with. In the UK for example, pancakes will be in the menu. In Berlin, there will be a type of jam-filled donut called Pfannkuchen. And in Sweden people will feast on semlor.
Semlor are sweet yeast buns that smell beautifully of cardamom. They are filled with a simple almond paste and some cream, then finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar. Simple and elegant, these buns look like they could be part of an afternoon tea as well as being a nice addition to a late winter Sunday morning brunch. But first and foremost, they are Sweden’s Fat Tuesday treat. I suggest that you immerse yourself in some Scandinavian baking this week and make these your pre-Lent treat.
Next week I’ll be working on Valentine’s Day recipes. If the sky was the limit, what would you want your loved one to bake for you?
Semlor – Swedish Lent buns
1 tsp instant yeast
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 egg yolk
plus: 1 egg, whisked, for glazing
For the filling:
50g ground almonds
50g powdered sugar
2 tbsp water
100 ml whipping cream
plus: icing sugar for dusting
- Heat the milk and the butter in a saucepan on medium heat until the butter is melted. Do not let the mixture boil. Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and cardamom. Let it mix for a couple of seconds.
- Pour the milk mixture in the middle of the bowl and mix for a couple of seconds. Then add the egg yolk. Mix the dough for about 10-15 minutes. The dough will be slightly wet and feel sticky.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Let it rise for about 2 hours or until the dough has double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 8 equal parts. Shape them into balls and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Then place a damp tea towel over the dough balls and let them rise for another 30-45 minutes.
- Remove the towel and brush the balls with the whisked egg. Then place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake for a total of 10-13 minutes, turning the baking tray half a turn after 6 minutes to ensure even browning. The semlor should be a light golden brown.
- Take the tray out of the oven and place to one side. Cover the semlor with the damp tea towel while the buns cool.
- Now, make the almond paste by mixing the ground almonds, powdered sugar and 2 tbsp of water in a bowl.
- Once the semlor are cooled, carefully slice off the top and scoop out the center. Put the crumbs in a bowl and add to that the almond paste and 2 tbsp of the cream. Mix it all together.
- Fill the semlor with 1-2 tsp of the almond paste mix.
- Whip the rest of the cream until stiff and scoop or pipe it on top of the almond paste mix. Then put the “lid” of the bun on top of the cream.
- Dust with some icing sugar to finish them off.