I already talked about in a previous post, why Shrove Tuesday is all bout eating. On the same day when there is Pancakes Day in the UK, Swedes celebrate 'fettisdagen' with Semla, which is the first sign of the spring after a long and dark Scandinavian winter. So let's celebrate the light, new life, green leaves... and bake Semlor!
Let's introduce a nice Swedish tradition into your life. During the little ceremony of 'fika' Swedes drink their favourite coffee and eat something sweet... and this time of the year these little treats are definitely Semla buns.
- 250 g flour
- 140 ml milk
- 25 g fresh yeast
- 50 g butter
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 large pinch of salt
- 1 beaten egg - for egg wash
- 200 g sweet almond paste or marzipan - ask for 'mandelmassa' in Scandinavian shops
- 50 ml milk
- bun centres
- 200 ml whipping cream
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Icing sugar
- Melt the butter and add the milk. Heat up till it gets lukewarm then crumble in the yeast and stir it till it gets melted.
- Add the sugar, salt and cardamom then gradually incorporate the flour. Use the dough hook of your mixer for kneading.
- When the gluten turned the dough into a stable mixture let it rise for about 30 minutes, till it doubles its size.
- Cut the dough into pieces and form pretty dough balls. Place them on a lined baking tray, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise once more for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 220 °C, give an egg wash to the dough balls and bake them for about 5-10 minutes (depending on their size).
- Let them chill on a cooling rack, and when they're at room temperature let's cut off the top of the buns and carve the middle of each.
- For the filling mix the almond paste, milk and bun centres to get a creamy texture.
- Whip the cream with the sugar and add the vanilla extract.
- Fill the empty dough centres with the almond cream, add some whipped cream and close the semla buns with their lid.
- Sprinkle them with icing sugar before serving.
After moving to Finland, I got familiar with local traditions, such as Laskiainen, which is often described as a "mid-winter sliding festival" and its related dessert is a variation of shrove buns, similar to a semla, but the almond paste is often replaced with jam. Finns call this shrove bun Laskaispulla, which you can also see below!
The lid of both buns can be completely uncovered or sprinkled with almond flakes or chopped nuts.
I can't stop eating them... but be careful guys!
King Adolf Frederick of Sweden, died of digestion problems on 12 February 1771, after eating a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of semla served in a bowl of hot milk sprinkled with cinnamon. This wersion of eating Semla called 'hetvägg' = "heat wall". He is remembered as "the king who ate himself to death."