I figured since many of you are not in Sweden for the semlor eating festivity of fettisdagen, I would write a post on making your own semlor. And if you are in Stockholm, be sure to check out the best semlor in the city.
Dagmar, who blogs at A Cat in the Kitchen, wrote a semlor recipe article a few years and I decided to try it out. Let me just say, they were delicious!
Semlor are not hard to make but they are labor and time intensive. My weakness, however, is bread making and I was terrified of a making a double rise bun (similar to lussekatter). The buns could have stayed in the oven a minute or two less. Overall, my first go at making semlor was a success.
Plus, I learned to make fresh mandelmassa!
I adapted Dagmar’s recipe to make the semlor a bit more nutty in flavor and have a vanilla taste in the cream.
Semlor – makes 12
50g fresh yeast
a pinch of salt
1.5tsp baking powder
900-1200ml of plain wheat flour (about 540g – 720g)
To brush on the buns
1 egg + a small amount of water
200g blanched almonds
200ml icing sugar
1 drop of bitter almond extract – optional
100ml milk – hot
800ml double /whipping cream – cold
100ml or so Powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Melt the butter and combine with the milk. Make sure that the mixture has the right temperature, which is 37 degrees C.
- Crumble the yeast in a large bowl or a kitchen aid. Add the milk and egg mixture and stir until the yeast has dissolved.
- Add cardamom, sugar, salt, egg, milk, butter and baking powder, and combine.
- Begin adding flour, 200-300ml at a time, while you work with the dough. Make sure not to use too much flour.
- Knead the dough until it’s smooth and soft. It will have a ‘fluffy’ feeling.
- Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with a slightly damp cloth. Let rise for about 45 minutes.
- When the dough has risen (it will not have doubled), knead the dough for a few minutes and add more flour if the bread is sticky. I only needed enough flour to cover my hands.
- Make twelve round balls. Put them on two baking sheets that are covered with parchment paper. You want to keep the buns well space from each other because they will double in size.
- Cover the buns with a damp cloth and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they have doubled in size.
- Make an egg wash mix by beating one egg with a couple spoons of water.
- Brush the buns with the mixture.
- Bake in the oven (225 degrees C) for 8 minutes, make sure not to burn them.
- Dry roast the blanched almonds on high heat for 10-15 minutes. Continuously stir them so they do not get burned.
- To grind the almonds there are fews options:
a. Kitchen mill – Ideal, so use it.
b. Food processor – Grate the almonds in a food processor and then use the food processor knife so that you get a very fine mixture. Now add the icing sugar and the bitter almond. Mix some more. Add some drops of water so that the almond paste binds together.
c. By hand and blender – I smashed the almonds by hand buy taking apart my marble rolling pin and using the end to smash the almonds. I placed the almonds in a small steel pot, something that could handle the weight and power of marble.
- Once the almonds were pulverized into small grains, I added 100ml of powdered sugar and 100ml of hot milk to bind everything.
- Transfer this grainy-pasty mix to a blender and blended it for 2-3 minutes. This works wonders as the paste became smooth and buttery.
- Add an additional 100ml of sugar to make the paste nice and sweet.
- If the paste gets too thick, you can add a couple spoons of warm milk to thin it down. Almond paste should be the consistency of a thick jam.
- In a large bowl, hand whip or electric whip the cream for a few minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue whipping.
- Be sure NOT to over whip. The cream should be strong enough to make peaks and be ‘fluffy’ to eat. I prefer hand whipping as you can feel how structured the cream becomes.
- Hand whipping takes about 15-20 minutes.
- Wait for the buns to cool completely.
- Cut off a small “lid” on the top-side of the buns. Put the lids aside.
- Scoop out the crumbs from the buns, making a small hole. Be sure the hole isn’t too deep!
- Fill each bun with about two spoons of the almond paste.
- In a pastry bag with a large circle or star tip, fill with whipped cream.
- Pipe the cream over the almond mixture, covering the entire bun and going 3-4cm (about 2inches) in height. Who doesn’t love whipped cream on their semlor?
- Place the “lids” on top of the whipped cream bun.
- Finally, dust with powdered sugar.
Voilà, c’est fini!