Happy Fat Tuesday! You might be celebrating Mardi Gras today, but in Sweden we have fettisdag, Fat Tuesday and we are eating semlor, a cardamon bun with marzipan and whipped cream inside! The Swedish semla (plural is semlor) is traditional Shrove Tuesday treat in Scandinavia, in Finland we call them laskiaispulla.
Originally this sweet creamy bun was only eaten on Shrove Tuesdays as the last festive food before Lent, but Swedes don’t observe a strict fasting for Lent anymore and semla in a bowl of warm milk became a traditional dessert every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter. Nowadays the traditions have stretched a little, and semlor are eaten more than ever. They are available in almost every grocery store and bakery in Sweden from late January until Easter. It is said that each Swede consumes on average five bakery-produced semlor each year, in addition to all those that are homemade.
I think I will for now on always associate semlor to the time when we first moved to Sweden last February, and celebrated our move here with the sweet creamy puffs. While I ate semlor when I was growing up in Finland, I am more of a cinnamon bun girl myself, and never baked semlor at home when we lived in the US. Now semlor will always be part of my memories of the time we lived in Sweden and I think I will continue the tradition even after we move out.
We just celebrated our one year anniversary here and I am already now thinking about moving out. We are not leaving anytime soon, but I know that eventually we will have to leave Sweden. Until we leave… I will live life to the fullest and enjoy my Swedish sunrises every morning in my backyard, and enjoy afternoon fika, Swedish coffee break, enjoying my view from my back porch. Today, why don’t you join me.
Swedish Semlor Recipe
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BUNS:
50 grams / 2 oz yeast (one fresh yeast package or 3 dry yeast packages)
2 cups of warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon grounded cardamon
4 1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
+ 1 egg for brushing the buns before baking.
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:
200 grams/ 7 oz almond paste/marzipan
1/3 cup milk
Pint heavy cream
3 tbsp powdered/icing sugar
+ powdered sugar on the top
1. I typically have a large bowl for the dough and use a small coffee cup for the items to be warmed and use microwave to warm them. First melt the milk in a microwave, and pour it into the bowl. Crumble the yeast into a bowl and let it dissolve into the milk.
2. Add the egg and mix well with the milk. Add the salt, cardamom, sugar, baking powder and start adding the flour by working the dough. When you have added around 4 cups of flour you can add the softened (or almost melted) butter and work it in the dough well, and you should be able to work the dough to the consistency it won’t stick to your fingers anymore. If needed, add around 1/2 cup more flour.
3. Let the dough rise under a towel in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes.
4. Once the dough has doubled, make around 20-25 buns and add them to a baking sheet with baking paper. Make sure they are not too close to each others, because they will rise more.
5. Heat the oven to 250C/480F and put a towel on the top of the buns and let them rise again for around 30 minutes or at least while the oven heats.
6. Beat the egg and use a brush to glaze the tops of the buns.
7. Allow the buns to cool before adding the filling.
8. Prepare the almond filling by warming the almond paste/marzipan in the microwave with the milk and mix them well. You don’t have to really warm them, but it will make the marzipan softer and easier to work with.
9. Whip the heavy whipping cream with powered sugar.
10. Once the buns have cooled off, cut a top off and add the almond paste first and then the whipped cream and add the bun top back on. Decorate with powdered sugar.
TIP: if you don’t like almonds or are allergic, you can also do what they do in Finland: instead of marzipan use jam, for example raspberry jam.
This recipe also on our magazine on page 72.
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