Swedish Semlor

Swedish semlor (semla is for a singular bun) are a yeasted, cardamom-scented, almond paste and cream-filled bun traditionally enjoyed during the Lenten season, especially on Fat Tuesday. They are so decadent and delicious that they are absolutely worth the time in the kitchen. Best enjoyed with a cup of coffee for a whimsical afternoon treat! You can make these buns and almond paste ahead and freeze or refrigerate. Semlor are best enjoyed on the day they are assembled, so plan to make the whipped cream the same day.

Swedish Semlor

Ingredients

Buns

  • 8 g active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tsp (125 ml) whole milk, cold
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cardamom, freshly ground from pods is best!
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups (325 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1 stick (100 g) soft salted butter, softened

Almond Paste

  • 3 1/2 oz (100 g) whole almonds, lightly toasted at 400°F for 5-8 minutes and cooled
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 Tablespoon (100 ml) whole milk

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • pinch of Kosher salt

Cream Filling & Finishing

  • 1 1/4 cup (300 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Recipe

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attached, combine a little milk and yeast until dissolved. Stir in the rest of the milk, sugar, ground cardamom and egg.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. With the mixer running on low, add half the flour mixture into the wet mixture until it comes together.
  3. Turn off the mixer to add the softened butter, salt and remaining flour and turn on speed to low to combine. Once the flour is incorporated, increase the speed to medium and work the dough for 10-15 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. It will still be a little sticky. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface to turn out the rested dough. Flour your hands and with a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Using a light amount of pressure, cup the dough in your hands and work each piece into a round bun using a circular motion, making sure the top is smooth.
  5. Leaving room for rising, place the buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1-2 hours.
  6. While the dough is rising, make the almond filling. Combine cooled almonds, sugar, salt and milk in a food processor. Pulse until the paste just comes together but is still slightly chunky, then refrigerate.
  7. Just before buns are finished rising, pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  8. Make the egg wash by whisking egg, water and salt and gently brush buns with egg wash.
  9. Bake buns for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating halfway through baking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Once buns are cooled, cut off the tops of the buns with a serrated knife to create a cap. With a fork, scrape out the middle of the buns to make a cap and reserve the crumbs. Mix the crumbs into the almond paste and add milk as needed to make a creamy consistency and spoon into the wells of the buns.
  11. Whip the cream to soft peaks and pipe the whipped cream on top of the almond paste with a wide star tip pastry fitting. Replace the lid on top of the cream. Dust each bun with powdered sugar.

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