January 14, 2016 |
Recipe and photo from the ScandiKitchen cookbook, image credit: Pete Cassidy for Ryland Peters Small
‘SEMLOR’ LENT BUNS
Every January, the excitement builds because our customers know it is almost time for ‘Semlor’ buns. Scandinavians celebrate the start of Lent in different ways, but all of us like to eat as many of these addictive treats as physically possible (rumour has it there are no calories in Semlor if you eat them with your eyes closed).
13 g dried yeast or 25 g fresh yeast *(see below)
250 ml whole milk, heated to 36–37°C (97–98°F)
80 g butter, melted and cooled slightly
40 g caster sugar
300–400 g white strong flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 egg, lightly beaten
100 g marzipan paste
good dollop of custard or Crème Pâtissière
500 ml whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
icing sugar, to dust
piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle
*If using fresh yeast, add it to the finger-warm milk and mix until dissolved. Then pour it into the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
If using dried yeast, sprinkle the yeast granules into the finger-warm milk and whisk together. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to activate and become frothy and bubbly. Pour into the bowl of a food mixer with a dough hook and stir in the melted butter. Add the sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add half the beaten egg (reserve the other half for brushing before baking).
Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated and then start to add more of the flour, bit by bit, until you have a dough that is only a little bit sticky. Take care not to add too much flour. Knead the dough for at least 5 minutes in the mixer. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place until it has doubled in size – about 30–40 minutes.
Turn the dough out to a floured surface. Knead again for a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. You want a firmer but not dry dough. Cut the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces. Place, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet. Leave to rise for 25–30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
Brush each bun with the beaten egg and bake for 8–10 minutes or until baked through – keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and cover the buns with a lightly damp dish towel immediately – this will prevent them from forming a crust.
When they have cooled completely, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1.5 cm/1⁄2 in. from the top. Scoop out about one-third of the inside of the bun and place this in a separate bowl. Mix it with the marzipan paste until it forms a very sticky mass – add a dollop of custard or Crème Pâtissière at this point to help it along. You want a spoonable, even mixture. Spoon the filling back into the buns, equally divided.
Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar until stiff, then use a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle to pipe cream on all the buns. Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust lightly with icing sugar.
Semlor are serious business in Sweden. Every year, usually starting as soon as Christmas is over and done with, semlor make their appearance in bakeries across Sweden. In Scandinavia we do not eat pancakes on pancake day. We eat big fat buns instead. Here are 12 things you need to know about the bun that makes Swedes go a little loopy.
- Semlor are eaten all over Scandinavia (but excessively in Sweden), Semlor are served up to and especially on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). This year, the big day is 9th February.
- A semla is a cardamom flavoured yeast bun stuffed with marzipan, vanilla and whipped cream. We also call them fat buns, to fatten you up before Lent. Although we’ll continue to eat them all the way until Easter. It’s a whole year until we next get a chance, you know.
- Semlor are strictly seasonal. Nobody ever makes them at any other time of the year except when it is The Season. This means not before 1st jan and not after Easter. Yes, we know a few Swedish shops have started doing it end of December, but those shops will be dealt with in due course by Semlor Polisen.
- It’s Semla (singular) and Semlor (plural)
- Semlor, and their season, is very serious business. It used to be law in Sweden when you could sell Semlor.
- How do you eat it? That is the big question. Do you lick the lid, eat the lid first or use the lid to scoop out the cream? Or do you just take a big bite? Or perhaps you use a fork? The possibilities are many – we can only suggest you try them all and find your favourite.
- Hetvägg – Afficinadoes eat Semlor in a bowl with hot milk poured over. This is called hetvägg.
- Sweden once had a King Fredrick who died from eating too many Semlor. He ate 14 in one sitting, then died from severe indigestion. Okay, he also had a banquet of food before hand, but still… It was probably the semlor that did it (from Sweden.se).
- 45 million Bakery made semlor are sold in Sweden each year. This does not include homemade ones or supermarket ones. This is just bakeries. On Fat Tuesday alone, bakeries sell over 6 million. Note: 9 million people live in Sweden.
- Semlor a la mode – Despite their tradition and history, semlor, too get caught up in trends. Last year was the year of the ‘semmelwrap’ – an attempt to modernize and make the classic semla less messy. It also makes it easier to eat on the go so you can eat even more semlor. This year it’s all about the ginger biscuit semla. No, we haven’t tried it – please report if you do.
- Regional variations – In Norway, the buns are called fastelavnsboller and the buns are filled with thick whipped cream and raspberry jam – and dusted with plenty of icing sugar. In Finland, they are called laskiaispulla and are filled with jam – often bilberry. In Denmark, the dough is slightly different and they are filled with custard (also called fastelavnsboller).
- So, what’s the damage? One bun is around 500 calories. Yes, now you know. If you eat it in the dark, calories don’t count. And if you have two in short succession it doesn’t count, either. In any case you will probably be so full after having one that you’ll sleep through dinner – they are prone to bring on serious cases of paltkoma (food coma). Buns for dinner? Yes please.
Get your Semla fix at the café daily from now until Easter. If you need larger amounts for Fat Tuesday, please pre-order firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Semlor cost £2.95 take away. Fancy making your own? Try the recipe from our book, Semlor – Swedish Marzipan Cream Buns.
March 19, 2015 |
Danish ‘Medaljer’ and ‘CremeLinser’ cakes
Makes approx. 8-9 ‘Medaljer’ and 12 ‘Linser’
Piping nozzle for cream
Yorkshire pudding tray
Round cutters 6-7 cm and 5 cm.
200g cold butter, cubed
350g plain flour
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Make this ahead of starting:
1 sachet ‘Kagecreme’ crème patisserie (approx. 500ml crème patisserie) – get it HERE
How to: Mix the content of sachet with 500ml whole milk. Whisk for 30-40 seconds, then leave to set for 15 minutes.
You can also use homemade cold crème patisserie for this instead, but we cheated a bit – and this powder is really good quality and is bake-safe.
300ml whipping cream
4-5 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
150g icing sugar
1 tsp cocoa
Edible decorations of choice
Make the dough:
In a mixer / food processor, add butter and flour and blitz a few times, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined and smooth. Fold together and wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Turn on oven to 180C.
Cut the dough in two pieces.
Medaljer – roll out and cut 18 round circles with the 7 cm cutter. Place on a lined baking tray and then bake 5-7 mins in the warm oven until slightly golden (taking care not to over bake).
Meanwhile, roll out the remaining dough for the Cremelinser. Use flour if it is a bit sticky.
Cut circles to line the base of the 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray – the dough should go to the top line, neatly. Add a good heaped teaspoon of crème patisserie to each ‘Linser’. Roll the remaining dough out flat, then cut the smaller 5cm circles. Carefully top each Linser with the pastry circle and press down gently around the edges to close.
Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until done taking care not to allow the Liner to crack open and the custard to seep out (but if it does a bit, don’t worry, it will sink again when cold).
To assemble the Medaljer:
Make the strawberry whipped cream:
With a blender, blend 6-7 strawberries (or mash them very thoroughly with a fork). Whip the whipping cream with a tbsp. icing sugar, and add 3-4 tbs strawberry puree. Allow stiff peaks to form.
Lay out 9 baked circles on a tray. Add ½ tsp jam to the base of each circle, then a tsp of crème patisserie in the middle. Using a piping bag with a wide cream nozzle, pipe cream in a circle around the base of 9 of the baked circles. Keep cold.
Place the remaining 9 circles on the table. Mix the icing sugar and 1tsp cocoa powder with a few tbsp. hot water until you have a smooth icing – not too runny. If the icing gets too runny, add more icing sugar – you want the consistency so it will not spill over the edges.
Carefully add a dollop of icing to each circle and top with a few decorations. Carefully place the lids onto the ‘Medaljer’ and cream.
A perfect selection of real Danish cakes to serve with your afternoon coffee.