After Christmas we always feel determined to start a new and healthier life – less chocolate and more spinach, but only until we remember the next big occasion in the Scandi baking calendar; Semla season. Semla is the Swedish answer to pancake-day pancakes, but in our completely unbiased opinion; a million miles better and far too good to only eat once per year.
We started selling these chubby marzipan and cream filled buns of glory in the café a few weeks ago – and as we are now only 1 month away from the big day, it is time to kick off and remind each other what the Semla is all about. We have collated some essential reading (all the important semla-facts), our favourite recipes, and our very own semla product bundles if you want to give them a go at home without the hassle of seeking out the products you need. Ah, you’re welcome. Public semla-service is what we do.
Fika must be our all time favourite Swedish word. The concept of a little break in your day, with coffee and maybe something sweet, or even better – a conversation with someone you find interesting, is lovely. Just the right antidote to a hectic day-to-day.
So – this week, we’re giving you a chance to win a big bundle of everything you need. A selection of treats and pastries from Delicato, mini cinnamon buns (gifflar) and a big bag of pick’n’mix, a bag of our favourite Swedish coffee and a signed copy of ‘Fika & Hygge’.
Fancy winning this and inviting your friends over for a little fika? Just answer this simple question for a chance to win..
A recipe for ‘Flødeboller’ mallow fluff cakes at home.
Ahhh… Do you like snowballs and mallow tea cakes? Soft, mallow with chocolate coating? Then you’ll like these.
In Scandinavia, usually called ‘Flødeboller’ or ‘Gammeldags kokosbollar’, these are often made with or without a base, with light or dark chocolate, and various flavoured fillings. In recent years, a lot of konditors have started making gourmet versions – and people have followed suit at home, coming up with great creations.
Okay, so it probably isn’t the easiest thing to make at home. It’s also a bit messy. However, it is fun and it is really worth it.
We recommend you do use a base for these. Some people like to use small round wafers, others simply use store bought round short bread type biscuits (look for something approx. 5cm in diameter or smaller). I quite like the ones with a soft baked marzipan cake base, as long as they are baked quite fine and these are the ones in this recipe. But by all means, skip the base-step and buy whatever you prefer – tuiles and round wafers work particularly well.
Do make sure you have both liquid glucose as well as a digital thermometer for the filling, as you need an accurate temperature check. Also, you can’t do this by hand: you need a mixer with a whisk attachment.
40g egg white (approx. one egg white from a large egg – if using smaller eggs, weigh them)
75g liquid glucose
1 tsp lemon juice
Seeds from one vanilla pod
100g egg white (3 and a bit egg whites – but do weigh them)
1 tbsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
200g tempered chocolate of choice (I use 70% Valrhona, but a milk chocolate will also give a lovely and lighter result and is preferred by little people).
Optional: 1 tbsp vegetable oil
In a mixer, blend marzipan, icing sugar and egg white until you have a smooth mass.
Turn the oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.
You can either pipe out 16-18 dollops of marzipan and flatten them into round even discs using some icing sugar to ensure it doesn’t stick to your fingers – or you can use icing sugar and roll them, then flatten them into shape. Make sure the discs are even and not too thick (they will puff up slightly during baking).
Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely. These will remain slightly soft in the middle.
In a saucepan, bring sugar, glucose, water, lemon and vanilla to the boil. Using a thermometer, keep boiling until you reach 117-118 degrees. Be aware any less than this and your syrup will not set the right way and it will affect the result as the water will not have evaporated properly.
Meanwhile, get your mixer ready and lightly whisk the egg white with salt until they start to combine, then add sugar and keep whisking. Increase speed to high and start adding the syrup in a very, very thin stream. Once combined, leave the mixer on high for 8-10 minutes. It does take this long to get the thick, peaky mallow.
Prepare a piping bag with a star nozzle. Add the mallow filling and carefully pipe out mallow on each base, taking care to leave a bit of ‘edge’ free and they may sink slightly. Aim to have a good high top on each mallow. Leave the set for 5-6 hours or speed up the process by popping them in the fridge.
Tempering chocolate: If you are a dab hand at tempering chocolate, prepare it in your usual manner. If you are not sure about tempering, melt half the chocolate and then as soon as you have a hot liquid, add the other half and take off the heat and stir until completely melted.
You can also simply melt a chocolate covering or cheaper chocolate, although it might discolour slightly and not dry properly. It will still taste nice, so don’t panic if you are not sure how to temper chocolate. Top tip: Add a small bit of vegetable oil to the hot chocolate if you wish a thinner coating of chocolate on your mallow buns.
Place a mallow bun on a baking grid, just over a bowl. Using a spoon, pour over chocolate until coated, then move with a spatula to a different tray to dry. Repeat until done. You may have to pour excess chocolate back from drip bowl.
Decorate with freeze dried raspberries or sprinkles – or maybe add desiccated coconut for that snowball effect.
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.
Delicious little meringue treats - perfect for Halloween. Can also be used as cake toppers. Warning: Moorish - you may eat the lot in a day (but if not, they keep well for a few days at room temperature)
In a clean bowl, add the egg whites and start whisking (really, you should use a mixer for this or you will be whisking for a very long time. Handy if you want very large muscly arms, though).
When the egg white turns foamy, add the cream of tartar and whisk on high speed. When soft peaks start to appear, begin to add the sugar - little by little. Add the vanilla sugar also.
Whisk on high speed until you have a very firm mixture. You will know it is done when you can no longer feel the sugar in the mixture (taste a little - if its really grainy, it's not done yet).
Turn the oven onto 150 degrees and prepare a flat baking tray with baking parchment.
Add the mixture to a piping bag and cut a 1½ cm hole at the end. Pipe out little 5-6 cm tall 'ghosts' - try to keep them as straight as possible or they may tilt in the oven during cooking. You will get around 20-25 ghosts from this mixture.
Put the ghosts in the oven and immediately turn oven down to 100 degrees. Leave to bake for 1½ hours - after which you turn off the oven and leave the ghosts to cool down in the oven.
When the ghosts are completely cooled, melt the chocolate and using a little piping or plastic bag, pipe eyes and mouth on your little creations.
Back in the day, the Danish bakers needed to find a use for all the left over Danish pastry, seeing as they could never sell it on the second day. And thus, Romkugler (literally: Rum balls) were born.
Danes will often tell you this is one of those treats they miss most from home (in Sweden they are known as Arrakballs). We all used to pop by the bakers on the way home from school and get a few of these cheap but delicious treats. Its a taste of our childhood.
So, to make these, you need some leftover bits of cake and pastry. When we made some today, we used 2 cinnamon Danish whirls, 2 raspberry crowns and 1 cinnamon bun. But you can use different things (although we have found that French croissants and pain au chocolate don’t work as well).
Blitz the day old pastries in a food processor, then add 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam, 2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder and then 2 tablespoons of rum essence (you can also use real rum, but because these are not cooked, the flavour will be strong and the alcohol will not evaporate).
Blend everything together until you have a smooth mass, then shape into golf ball sized pieces. Roll in chocolate sprinkles or desiccated coconut. Chill for a bit – and serve.
We recommend eating the day you make these, but they are probably good the day after, too. Its unlikely to be an issue, though… They usually don’t last the day as they are very moorish.