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 calledlaskiaispulla 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
Want to be the most popular person in your office for the day? Then treat your colleagues to a whole tray of these delicious Lent buns called Semlor.
We’ve got a tray to give away to one lucky person – worth £45! To be in with a chance to win, answer this super easy question:
Semlor buns are traditionally eaten on which special day?
a) Shrove Tuesday
b) Christmas Eve
c) Easter Sunday
Answer to email@example.com before Tuesday 27th January 2015 at noon. Winner will be picked at random from correct entries. One only prize available, no alternative. Winner must pick up the tray of buns at the cafe (or arrange pick up). No delivery of buns. Winner must pre book required date for buns with the cafe. If the winner is not London based, they can give the prize to a mate (yes, that’s fair, don’t you think?). We will not be help responsible for the calorie intake if you eat them all yourself instead of sharing. Probably not a great idea, really, didn’t you ever hear about King Adolphe Fredrick? Well, look him up. One tray of semlor is 15 buns. Usual competition rules apply.
Ohhh, those delicious buns of delight and loveliness. It’s the season and we have a great recipe.
Lent buns (Semla for singular, Semlor for plural) are buns eaten leading up to and during Lent in Scandinavia. In Sweden the are most popular and bakeries start selling these already in January. Fat Tuesday – Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras – is the day when we eat at least one and maybe more of these buns. We basically fatten up before Lent.
You will never ever find Semlor buns sold outside the season – it is just not done. So, take advantage of the season now that runs until Easter and have a go at making these seriously rich buns at home.
Let us tell you that the little dollop of custard or creme patisserie makes all the difference. Thats just our little trick and hint for an extra delicious bun.
If using mixer, set it up with the dough hook attachment. Melt the butter and add the milk, ensuring a lukewarm temperature of around 37-38ºC. Add the fresh yeast and stir until dissolved.
Add sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add the ½ egg (preserve the other half for brushing before baking).
Mix well until all 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: you will get dry buns. Knead the dough for at least five minutes in the mixer, longer by hand. Leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place until doubled in size (30-40 min).
Turn the dough out to a floured surface. Knead again for a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Take care that the balls are completely round and uniform in size. Place on baking tray with good spacing between buns. Leave to rise for another 25-30 minutes.
Gently brush each bun with the remainder of the egg wash and bake in a hot oven (200ºC) for about 8-10 minutes or until baked through – keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and cover the tray with a lightly damp tea towel immediately – this will prevent the buns from forming a crust.
When the buns have cooled down completely, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1½ cm from the top. Scoop out about ⅓ of the inside of the bun and place crumbs in a separate bowl.
Mix the almond paste with the crumb until it forms a very sticky mass –add a dash of milk, custard or crème pâtisserie 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 and use a piping bag to pipe cream on all the buns’ tops. Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust with icing sugar.