anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Posts Tagged ‘semlor

Swedish Semlor

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Semlor, the treat you need for a Fat Tuesday fika.

Semloryeasted buns filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream, also called fastlagsbullar or fettisbullar—are a Swedish treat for Fat Tuesday.

The tradition dates back centuries, and the first documentation of this style of pastry dates back to 1250, when it was featured in a painting. In the early days, semla did not include whipped cream or almond paste, but was simply a bun served in a bowl of hot milk, called hetvägg. On the evening of Fat Tuesday in 1771, King Adolf Frederick enjoyed a banquet of lobster and Champagne, and rounded things off with 14 hetvägg. Things didn’t end well—he died that night of indigestion.

Obviously we can all consume a more lagom amount of the culinary indulgence, and they are perfect to pair with a cup of coffee or a mug of tea, so get a batch of these going today and enjoy the lovely cardamom smell that will fill the kitchen. Johanna Kindvall and I featured this recipe in our book Fika: the Art of the Swedish Coffee Break (signed copies here!) and I figured I would share it here today so that you could partake in this wonderful custom.

Semlor
recipe from Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break

makes: about 12 to 16 buns

buns
7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces, 100 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (240 milliliters) milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) sugar
3 1/2 cups (1 1/8 pounds, 495 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed

filling
2 cups (10 ounces, 285 grams) blanched almonds
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 to 1 cup (120 to 240 milliliters) milk

to finish
½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 milliliters) heavy whipped cream
powdered sugar

In a saucepan, melt the butter, then stir in the milk. Heat until warm to the touch (about 110ºF/43°C). In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the warm liquid. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until bubbles form on top.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 of the eggs with the sugar. Pour in the remaining butter and milk mixture, along with the yeast. Stir until well blended.

Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Work the dough until well combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured flat surface, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. The dough should feel a little wet but if it sticks to your fingers and the countertop, add a little flour. Place dough in a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Grease a baking sheet or line with a silicone baking mat. On a flat surface, divide dough into 12 to 16 equal pieces and roll into balls. Place them with 2 inches (5 cm) between each bun. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes. (To test when they are ready to bake, poke your finger gently into one of the buns; the indent should slowly spring back, about 3 seconds).

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

When you are ready to bake, beat the last egg with a fork and brush the top of each bun. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven and transfer to the counter. Cover with a tea towel and let cool completely.

To make the almond paste, in a food processor grind the almonds until finely ground. Add in the sugar and almond extract and pulse until mixture sticks together. (You can also buy almond paste if you can find it at a specialty store.)

Cut a circular “lid” off the top of each bun and set aside. Cut a circle along the inside of each bun, leaving about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) for a border, being careful not to cut all the way to the bottom. Scoop out the cut portion and place in a bowl along with the almond paste. Mix together together and add enough milk to make a filling that’s thick and smooth filling.

Fill each bun with the filling then top with whipped cream. Gently place the “lid” on top and dust with powdered sugar.

Brew some coffee and serve immediately.

Note: Semlor doesn’t store well, so if you are not planning to eat them all in one go, I suggest you only prepare as many as you need. Freeze the rest of the buns as soon they are cool.

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Written by Anna Brones

March 5, 2019 at 08:17

Go Stuff Yourself with Semlor!

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Celebrate Fat Tuesday with Swedish Semlor

Happy Fat Tuesday – in my world, known as the Dfficial Day of Stuffing Yourself with Semlor. The iconic Swedish baked good served before Lent is one of my favorite things to make this time of year, and I have a whole article about semlor up on Paste this week in celebration. There’s also a great article on the topic on NPR’s The Salt by fellow food writer Anne Bramley which is definitely worth a read.

Here’s a little dirty secret for you: there’s a recipe for semlor in my book Fika, which is out on April 7 (yes, I have already started counting down). But if you can’t wait that long, and you really want to make some today, you can use this recipe.

Written by Anna Brones

February 17, 2015 at 16:15

Baking Swedish Semlor

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My favorite Swedish pastry? The semla. There are of course dozens of amazing Swedish baked goods, but this one is special because it only comes once a year. Baking a batch in the middle of summer or early fall? Unacceptable. The semla is meant to be consumed on Fat Tuesday, but of course that can be stretched out to include anytime between New Year’s and Easter.

Back to the semla.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 21, 2012 at 09:03

In the Kitchen

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Prepping some good stuff for another Kokblog collaboration. Ample use of cardamom required.

Written by Anna Brones

February 11, 2012 at 13:40

Posted in Food + Recipes

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Semlor: Sweden’s Fat Tuesday Celebration

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This week marks Fat Tuesday. Which in Sweden means it’s high time for semlor, a pastry full of almond paste and whipped cream. After all, it’s not called Fat Tuesday for nothing.

So honored that Johanna over at Kokblog (my new favorite food illustration blog) asked me to write a guest post for this favorite Swedish tradition of mine.

semla, also known as fastlagsbulle or fettisbulle, is a flour bun filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar. Historically the decadent pastry was intended for consumption on fettisdagen, Fat Tuesday. But in modern day, the tradition of semlor has gone far beyond just fettisdagen, allowing for Swedish pastry shops and bakeries to fill their windows with the baked good from just after the New Year all the way through Easter. Several months of pastry bliss.

Read the full post — with more fantastic illustrations and my mother’s recipe — here.

Written by Anna Brones

March 8, 2011 at 04:00

Fat Tuesday a la Sweden: Semlor

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You think bright color bead necklaces and crazy carnival outfits are what Fat Tuesday is all about? Think again.

In Sweden there’s a different tradition, and it carries on all the way from January to March: semlor. A semla (plural: semlor) are wheat-flour bun filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar; the perfect combination for fending off the cold of winter. Traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday, now you can find them in Swedish pastry shops and bakeries from the beginning of January onwards.

Or you can make your own. Here’s a great recipe to bring all the semla goodness right into your own home. I know what I’m doing tonight!

Want more semla stats and fun facts? Check out this great article on the Swedish baked good by my friend Lola Akinmade on Intelligent Traveler.

[Photo: Per Ola Wiberg]

Written by Anna Brones

February 16, 2010 at 10:37

Posted in Food + Recipes, Travel

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