Spring is coming! And to prove it, or perhaps prepare for it, Swedes gorge themselves on Semlor, (also called Fastlagsbulle); sweet cardamom buns that are hollowed out and filled with almond paste, then topped with whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar.
Originally eaten only on Shrove Tuesday, over time the once strict custom has expanded to now allow for Semla consumption during most of the period between Christmas and Easter.
Famous fictional swedish detective Ture Sventon loved them so much that he risked his reputation by eating them every day regardless of the season. It is not at all proper to eat a Semla unless spring is around the corner! But mr Sventon had a lisp and therefore could not pronounce the word "Semlor", instead calling them "Temlor". And fortunately the loophole was created that though Semlor are strictly seasonal fare, a Temla can be eaten all year round!
Several nordic countries, for example Finland and Denmark, have their own varieties of Semlor, and claim it to be their special cherished national treat. However, to beat Sweden to the title of foremost lovers of the Semla would be difficult. The Swedish king Adolf Frederick won that honour for all time when he died of indigestion problems in 1771 after eating a meal that he topped off with fourteen servings of a variety of this scrummy but rich dessert.
I tried this recipe by Roy Fares, another famous swedish pastry chef. These semlor turned out really well.
8 dl wheat flour
50 g yeast (live yeast)
4 dl milk
6 dl wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground cardamom
160 g butter
2 dl sugar
scooped out crumbs from the buns
more cream, whipped into soft spoonable peaks
Make Dough 1: Heat the milk to 37 degrees Celcius. Crumble the yeast into the milk and let it dissolve. Mix in the flour. Run this mixture in the food processor or mixer on medium speed until a dough is formed. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Dough 2: Mix all the ingredients for the second dough into dough 1. Mix in on low setting for a minute first, then increase speed and work the dough around 7 minutes until the dough is shiny and smooth. Split into 28 pieces. Roll into buns.
Let the buns rise under a cloth for about 2 hours. Warm the oven to 250 degrees Celcius (482 degrees F). Put the buns in the oven and then directly lower the temperature to 200 C (392 F)
Bake for 8- 10 minutes. Brush with a whisked egg as soon as you take them out. Let them cool on a rack under a cloth.
When cool, cut a neat lid off each bun. Carefully (don't break the bun wall) carve out some of the middle, creating a depression. Fill the hole with the almond filling. Make a cloud of whipped cream, place lid back on and dust with icing sugar. Serve! And don't eat fourteen of them.