Semlor (I still havn’t unpacked my battery charger for the camera so you have to stand with the cell phone photos)
Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, and in Sweden we have a tradition eating a special bun called Semla on this day. It is a plain wheat bun with cardamom filled with whipped cream and almond paste. There’s a long story behind this bun, and I have to admit that I don’t know all about it even though I just bought a book called “History book for cookie lovers” (in Swedish though) where there’s a lot of history to read, including the history behind and about the Semla. The Semla is eaten in many nordic countries, with a few modifications and other names. For example you can read about Pille’s Estonian Vastlakuklid here.
Anyway, you either go to the nearest bakery and buy a Semla (which nowadays can be found from New Year’s to Easter) or you bake them yourself. Yesterday evening I did my own ones, for the first time. The bun is easy to do and was excellent, but I wasn’t quite happy with my almond mixture. I did my own almond paste, but as I don’t have any kitchen mill I first grated the almonds in my food processor and then I used the food processor knife. I didn’t get the almond paste as fine as I wanted but it was sufficient. I also (as usual) havn’t found my kitchen scales in any of the unpacked boxes yet so I just used the deciliter measure, even though I prefer to weigh my ingredients.
100 g butter
300 ml milk
1.5 tsp cardamom
50 g fresh yeast
a pinch of salt
100 ml caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
900-1200 ml of plain wheat flour (about 540 g-720 g)
To brush on the buns:
1 egg + a small amount of water
200 g sweet Almonds
120 ml icing sugar
1 drop of bitter almond extract
To the Almond mixture:
100 ml milk, hot
500 ml double /whipping cream
Melt the butter and combine with the milk. Make sure that the mixture has the right temperature, which is 37 degrees C.
Crumble the yeast in a large bowl or a kitchen aid. Add the milk and egg mixture and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Add cardamom, sugar, salt, egg, milk, butter and baking powder, and combine. Then start to add the flour while you work with the dough. Make sure not to use too much flour. Knead the dough until it’s smooth. Then let the dough rise in its bowl for about 45 minutes.
When the dough has risen enough, knead it again and add more flour if needed. Shape 12 round balls that you put on 2 baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Cover the buns with a kitchen towel and let them rise for about 45 minutes or until they have doubled in size. Beat the egg and add some water, then brush the buns with the mixture. Bake in the oven (225 degrees C) for 8 minutes, make sure not to burn them. I baked both baking sheets at the same time as I nowadays have a fan oven (yay!! ) Let the buns cool.
Now it’s time to start with the almond paste. Blanche the almonds by boiling them for 3 minutes. Drain off the water and slip the skins off by squeezing the almonds between your thumb and fingers. Be careful as they really are slippery! If you have a kitchen mill, then use it. If you don’t, first grate the almonds in a food processor and then use the food processor knife so that you get a very fine mixture. Now add the icing sugar and the bitter almond. Mix some more. Add some drops of water so that the almond paste binds together.
When the buns have cooled completely it’s time to assemble them. Cut off a small lid on top of the 12 buns. Put the lids aside. Scoop out the crumbs from the buns, making a small hole. Mix the crumbs with the almond paste and the hot milk. If the mixture is too firm you can add some more milk and also some more icing sugar if it isn’t sweet enough. Whip the cream, but absolutely not to hard. You don’t want the semlor to taste like butter. Add a pinch of vanilla sugar to the cream.
Cut the 12 lids, which you earlier put aside, so that they become triangular.
Fill the buns with the almond mixture, about 2 tbsp for each bun. Now put some whipped cream on each bun and top it with a triangular lid. Sift each bun with icing sugar. Enjoy!!
Dagmar’s tip: Yesterday when I baked, I only assemled 4 semlor. The rest of the buns I put in the freezer so I easily can assemble more Semlor when I want, without having to bake new buns.