The hunt for a “Semla” is on. I actually was able to buy some in NY last year. There is a Swedish cafe in the city and they had baked some “Semla’s” around fat Tuesday.
A “Semla” is really just a wheat bun with cardamom and an almond paste filling with whipped cream. But, for some reason it is a slam dunk with the Swedish population. It used to be available only around fat Tuesday but now they start selling them right after christmas. I used to have my old design-studio right around the corner from this fantastic bakery. One year when I came home to Sweden, I actually pre-ordered some “Semla’s” for my family and I. They would make special orders if you bought a big enough order. And we did. Some of my American friends can’t understand the fascination with this somewhat plain wheat-bun over decorated with whipped cream. And besides that, they have an issue with eating them without getting powered sugar all over themselves. Well, I will tell you a secret, most Swedes also end up with powdered sugar on their noses. One has to have a technique to eat them. Take off the lid and use it to scoop up some cream. After that you dive into the bun.
Some people eat them in a bowl with hot milk poured around the “Semla”, making it a little soggy. It is called a “hot wall”. I don’t like soggy food so I never go to that much trouble to eat it. But my mom loves it this way.
Makes 20 big or 40 mini Semlor.
1 package of fresh yeast (or 1 package of dry yeast. Activate as description on package).
6 1/3 c. flour.
6 oz. (175 gr.) butter.
2 c. whole milk (1-2% works as well).
3/4 c. granulated sugar.
2 tsp. ground cardamom.
1 tsp. salt.
7 oz. almond paste.
3 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream.
Top with powdered sugar.
Melt the butter on the stove, add the milk. Warm until finger warm. (Not hot, it would “kill” the yeast.).
Crumble the yeast up into a bowl. Add the ground cardamom. If you are using dried yeast, follow the directions on the package to dissolve and activate it.
Pour the milk and butter mixture over the yeast.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add little at a time to the wet ingredients. Knead the dough until nice and smooth.
If you have a food processor use that. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes.
Let the dough rise under a kitchen towel in a bowl for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
When done, put dough on a lightly floured counter. Divide into approximately 20 pieces (if big) or 40 (if you are making mini S).
Roll the pieces into round buns. Add to a lined cookie sheet. Let rise again. Be sure they double in size.
Some people brush the buns with an egg wash. It works just as well without.
Bake in a 450F (225C) oven. Place them in the lower part. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool down on a rack. When totally cool, cut of a little “lid” of each bun. “Dig” out a little of the bun with a fork and put into a bowl. Shred the almond paste. Add to the bowl together with a few tablespoons of heavy cream (un whipped). Mix well.
Evenly divide all the almond paste into all the buns. Whip the heavy cream. Add to the buns. Use a pastry bag so that it is easier (& prettier) to distribute the whipped cream.
Add the “lid” back onto the bun. Just before serving, sprinkle over some powdered sugar.
Just beware…. One is never enough….