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Swedish Semlor Buns

A Swedish tradition sweet bun, made with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream.  An historic bun, predating the Swedish Reformation of 1527 and a bun that is said to have killed a king or maybe not.

Course Dessert, Fika
Cuisine Swedish
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 24 buns
Author Mormor

Ingredients

Semlor Bun

  • 5 tsp (5 tsk/15g) Instant or Quick yeast (dry), or 50 g of fresh Swedish yeast.
  • 7 tbls (100g/3.5oz.) Butter, melted.
  • 1.25 cups (300g/3dl) Whole milk.
  • 4.25 cups (600g/10dl/21.16oz.) All-purpose flour. (See note 1)
  • 6.75 tbsp (90g/1dl/3.17oz.) Sugar, granulated.
  • 2 tsp (2 tsk) Ground cardamom.
  • 1/2 tsp (1/2 tsk) Bakers Ammonia or hjorthornssalt in Sweden. (See note 2)
  • 1/2 tsp (1/2 tsk) Table salt. (See note 3)
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten for brushing.

Semlor Filling

  • 1-1/2 cups (3.5dl) Homemade almond paste (recipe follows), (see note 4)
  • 2 cups (5dl ) Heavy whipping cream, (see note 5)
  • Icing sugar (powdered sugar), for dusting buns.

Instructions

Buns

  1. Combine your flour, sugar, cardamom, salt, hjorthornssalt (or Bakers ammonia), which is your “drys”.  Set to the side for use in a minute. If using dry instant or quick yeast, see note 3.
  2. Next, combine your warm milk, melted butter and fresh yeast.  This is your “wets”.

  3. Using a stand mixer, hand mixer or by hand, mix your drys and wets in a bowl until well blended.

  4. When combined, place the ball of bun dough in a large bowl and cover. Place in a warm part of the room and allow to rise for thirty (30) minutes.

  5. It's time to get that oven up to temp. Set it for 235°C (450°F).

  6. Once risen, gently deflate the bun dough ball and divide the dough into equal size pieces and roll into nice balls. Just a note, for smaller Semlor divide into 30 pieces. For medium size pieces divide into 25 pieces. To make traditional size buns, divide into 18-20 pieces. After you have divided and rolled the buns, cover and allow to rise for 30 additional minutes.
  7. This is where the egg comes in. Lightly beat the egg with a small splash of water until it mixture is thinned and ready to brush. Next, lightly brush the top of the risen buns with the mixture. This will give them that lovely golden color when baked.

  8. With the oven up to temp, place the risen buns on the center rack and bake for about 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they may need to be covered with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.  Once brown and cooked, remove and cool.

  9. Once cooled, using a sharp bread knife slice off the top half of the Semlor buns. Make a slight well in the bottom piece by plucking out some of the cooked bun. Reserve the bun crumbs for use in the almond paste filling (recipe follows).

Filling

  1. Using the leftover bun crumbs, mix the almond paste with a splash of milk to make a nice spreadable filling for the buns. 

  2. Whip the heavy cream until it holds tight peaks.  Fill your piping bag fitted with the star nozzle.  Place in refrigerator until needed.

Semla Bun Assembly

  1. Now, place either your homemade or store bought almond paste mixture on top of the bun to fill the well and come to the edges.

  2. Pipe on some whipping cream and lightly dust the icing sugar on the tops of the buns.  They are now ready to eat...

Recipe Notes

Please note that the quantities can be changed by entering the amount you wish in the quantity indicator.  However, the metric will not change. 

  1. The weight of flour can vary from place to place. I would suggest you start with 9dl or 540g or 3.8 cups, mix let set for about 8 minutes then check and see if additional flour is needed.  If it is, remix until smooth.
  2. Substitute baking powder in equal amounts if Bakers Ammonia is unavailable.
  3. If using dry yeast add it to your dry ingredients but add the salt and mix with flour prior to adding yeast.  This prevents the dried yeast from killing the yeast.
  4. Pre-made almond paste should be readily available in your markets baking isle.  Odense is a popular brand (Danish) available at Whole Foods and Target in North America.  It should also be available in other markets.  However, making your own is very easy and cheaper.
  5. As the whipping cream breaks down rather rapidly, I don't pipe on the cream until just prior to serving.  In a pinch, you can used canned "real" whipped cream.

As for the filling of the Semlor buns, feel free to experiment. We always make some with lemon curd, homemade raspberry and strawberry jam.  They are good with any sweet filling.