Thursday, 16 March 2017

Super Swedish Semlor

About 18 months ago, Liz took me to the ScandiKitchen in Great Titchfield Street. We had a lovely light lunch and I enjoyed looking at the goodies on sale in the shop. I just picked up the March 2017 Edition of the Waitrose Magazine, and there was a picture of Bronte Aurell, food writer and co-founder of ScandiKitchen. In Sweden they like food in a seasonal pattern [there's a season for saffron buns, and also for fermented herring. I shall skip that one!]
She said in her article that Lent is the season for Semlor. These cardamom buns with whipped cream and marzipan are a huge tradition in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. Traditionally associated with Shrove Tuesday, they are now enjoyed from January until Easter. You can freeze the unfilled buns, but once filled, they should be eaten on the same day. 
Prep time: 1 hour, plus proving and cooling. Cooking time:10-15 minutes
Makes: 10 large or 15 small buns
·         75g very soft unsalted butter
·         250ml whole milk
·         2 x 7g sachets dried active yeast
·         50g caster sugar
·         1 egg, beaten
·         400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
·         ½ tsp fine salt
·         ½ tsp baking powder
·         30 cardamom pods – shake out seeds and grind them finely [1tsp]
·         vegetable oil, for kneading and greasing
·         150g marzipan
·         150ml fresh custard
·         300ml whipping cream
·         2-3tbsp icing sugar
·         ½ tsp vanilla extract
·         icing sugar, for dusting
1. Warm the milk gently, add the yeast, 1tsp sugar,and stir. Cover with cling film and leave 15 minutes to activate [it should bubble up slightly]
2. In a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook add milk,sugar and yeast to the bowl. Mix flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and cardamom in a separate bowl. Add half the dry mix to the yeast mixture then beat in the softened butter  and half the egg [reserve the remainder of the egg]. Add remnaining flour mix and beat for 5 minutes until the dough comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.  Cover bowl with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – 40-100 minutes.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for a 2-3 minutes. Divide and shape the dough into 10 uniform balls [or 15 for small ones], then space well apart on a parchment-lined baking tray. Cover with clean dry teatowel. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 200˚/fan 170˚/gas 6. Gently brush each bun with reserved beaten egg and bake for 8-12 minutes, until a rich brown colour and baked through; keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from the oven and immediately cover with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to prevent the buns from forming a crust.
5. When the buns are completely cool, cut a ‘lid’ off each one (about ¼ of the way from the top). Scoop out about 1/3 of the inside of each bun and tear into a bowl. Add the custard, grate in the marzipan. The mixture should be spoonable, not too runny. 
6. Spoon the filling back into the buns. Whip the cream with 2tbsp sugar and vanilla until just firm, then use a piping bag – fitted with a star nozzle if you have one – to pipe it into all the buns. Put the lids back on and dust lightly with remaining icing sugar. 
Above is the picture from the magazine. Here on the right you see my attempt.  I was rather pleased with them. I made half the quantity and divided it into 8. However I did end up with leftover custard. Next time I think only I'd use one third of the quantity. The cardamom flavour was really different, and we both enjoyed these.
I'd definitely make them again.
If this sort of thing matters to you, then one of my small buns contains about 225 calories!


  1. They look delicious!!!! I like the sound of them except for the marzipan which I've never quite got on with.x


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