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Fat Tuesday: Swedish semlor

Fat Tuesday: Swedish semlor
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  • Fat Tuesday: Swedish semlor

    Post #1 - February 5th, 2008, 4:23 pm
    Post #1 - February 5th, 2008, 4:23 pm Post #1 - February 5th, 2008, 4:23 pm
    Fat Tuesday snuck up on me this year.

    For a country surprisingly lacking in active church-goers, there are a heck of a lot of religious-based holidays and traditions in Sweden. One such tradition involves eating “semlor” on and around Fat Tuesday. And, I didn't get around to making a batch until today!

    Thanks to Josephine, semlor have been briefly mentioned(even recommended!) on LTHForum. While I cannot offer any advice on where to purchase decent semlor in the Chicagoland area, I can hopefully show everyone how to make these treats.

    (I was going to attempt to write a brief history of semlor but quickly found that someone had thankfully already done an excellent job.)

    For making the semla, one first needs to bake some buns. The best dough would actually be one of the ones I've used for the cinnamon bunsI’ve posted about.

    I made a slightly different recipe but the dough was unusually difficult to work with… Forgive me LAZ but I won’t even bother to post the recipe for this usable but difficult dough. Here are, at least, some photos:

    The ingredients of the pre-dough:

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    High-protein flour, whole milk, sugar and yeast (this particular recipe used a generous amount of yeast to obtain lots of rise. I’ve seen others that use chemical leaveners to achieve some extra lift.)

    I mixed this for about 10 minutes and let sit for about 30 minutes.

    I then added:

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    More flour, salt and cardamom, an egg, butter and sugar.

    I started by adding the egg, flour, sugar, salt and cardamom before mixing for 10 minutes. This dough was so stiff that I honestly don’t see anything but a professional or DLX-style mixer being able to handle it! I gradually adding knobs of room-temperature butter and even added a few tablespoons extra milk and an extra egg yolk to get it under control…

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    The dough rested for about an hour.

    I divided the dough into racquetball-sized lumps and rolled them into buns. I then placed the buns on parchment-lined trays and let them rest for another 30 minutes or so:

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    Finally, I baked the egg-washed buns in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.

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    To make yourself a semla, you’ll need a bun, about 1/3 of a cup whipped cream, a few tablespoons of almond paste (you can make your own by quickly mixing equal amounts of sugar and almonds in a food processor), a few tablespoons milk, cinnamon and some more milk.

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    Cut the top off of the bun.

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    Gently pull out the soft insides of the bun. Don’t forget the bottom of the “lid”! Save all of the crumbs.

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    Mash the crumbs together with the grated almond paste and enough milk to make a thick paste. Fill the hollowed-out bun with a few tablespoons of the paste.

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    Pipe or dollop the whipped cream on top of the paste.

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    Gently replace the lid and sprinkle with powdered sugar:

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    Voila! A semla!

    How’s it taste? I wouldn’t know. You see, while many, many Swedes are more than happy to consume the semla in its raw form, I was introduced to a preparation known in these parts as a “hettvägg” early on in my semla days. And, honestly, I’ve never tried one without performing the following:

    Place the semla in a shallow bowl. Pour hot milk into the bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

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    As one surely can imagine, the warm milk immediately begins turning the bun, almond paste and whipped cream into a gooey, rich mess:

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    Actually, the milk and cinnamon do a lot to cut the richness and sweetness of how I can only imagine a semla in its raw state must taste.

    However you decide to indulge, do take this last chance before Lent to try out a semla!
  • Post #2 - February 5th, 2008, 5:24 pm
    Post #2 - February 5th, 2008, 5:24 pm Post #2 - February 5th, 2008, 5:24 pm
    Bridgestone -- I just have to tell you how very much I look forward to your posts! It's like a wonderful little baking seminar from Sweden that we get every now and then. Your baking story and pictures is always so wonderful to follow -- i can almost smell your pastries!

    Thanks for sharing with us !!!

    Shannon
  • Post #3 - February 5th, 2008, 5:28 pm
    Post #3 - February 5th, 2008, 5:28 pm Post #3 - February 5th, 2008, 5:28 pm
    I agree - Bridgestone's posts are always fascinating and inspiring. But I initially read the title as "Fat Tuesday: Swedish Senior" and was looking forward to his recipe to make a fat old Swede.
  • Post #4 - February 5th, 2008, 5:44 pm
    Post #4 - February 5th, 2008, 5:44 pm Post #4 - February 5th, 2008, 5:44 pm
    Damn, those look great! I have a question for you Bridgestone, is marzipan the same as almond paste for the purpose of this recipe? Lincolnwood Produce sells logs of marzipan and I was wondering if that might be a source for anyone considering making a batch of semlors.*

    * Hopefully a couple of them will come my way in exchange for the lead. :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - February 5th, 2008, 6:12 pm
    Post #5 - February 5th, 2008, 6:12 pm Post #5 - February 5th, 2008, 6:12 pm
    Steve -- almond paste can be bought in a Jewel -- in the pie filling section there's usually a small can of it under the brand Solo. I just picked some up for a fantastic almond and dried cherry pound cake I made (you replace half the butter with the almond paste).

    You probably know this..but I thought I'd mention it, just in case.

    Shannon
  • Post #6 - February 5th, 2008, 6:23 pm
    Post #6 - February 5th, 2008, 6:23 pm Post #6 - February 5th, 2008, 6:23 pm
    Marzipan is not almond paste - marzipan has more sugar in it. In my experience, blending nuts and sugar in a food processor results in chopped sugary nuts, not paste. This may be different if the nuts are very fresh and high in oil. You're better off buying the canned paste.
  • Post #7 - February 5th, 2008, 6:52 pm
    Post #7 - February 5th, 2008, 6:52 pm Post #7 - February 5th, 2008, 6:52 pm
    nr706 wrote:I agree - Bridgestone's posts are always fascinating and inspiring....and was looking forward to his recipe to make a fat old Swede.


    I think that recipe is: Change citizenship, invite yourself to Bridgestone's for a meal at least daily, repeat until well aged... :wink:

    OK, now I'm behind on at least 4 recipes I want to try...
  • Post #8 - February 5th, 2008, 10:05 pm
    Post #8 - February 5th, 2008, 10:05 pm Post #8 - February 5th, 2008, 10:05 pm
    earthlydesire wrote:Steve -- almond paste can be bought in a Jewel -- in the pie filling section there's usually a small can of it under the brand Solo. I just picked some up for a fantastic almond and dried cherry pound cake I made (you replace half the butter with the almond paste).

    You probably know this..but I thought I'd mention it, just in case.

    Shannon


    Thanks for clearing this up. (And to rickster, too). I'm not really a baker and I didn't know that almond paste is different than marzipan or that I could get some at the Jewel. Like I said, my baking skills are limited, so the best I could hope for is a "quality control" taste of someone else's semlor. How much is a ticket to Sweden???
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - February 5th, 2008, 10:24 pm
    Post #9 - February 5th, 2008, 10:24 pm Post #9 - February 5th, 2008, 10:24 pm
    Maybe we could pool our resources and charter a plane....
  • Post #10 - February 6th, 2008, 12:45 am
    Post #10 - February 6th, 2008, 12:45 am Post #10 - February 6th, 2008, 12:45 am
    Bridgestone, you have done it again. I am reasonably certain that I will be dreaming about semlor tonight!

    The Swedish Bakery in Andersonville regularly carries semlor, but their buns do not have cardomom in the dough. They also use a slice of marzipan, rather than a liquid filling such as yours appears to be. It looks like I am just going to have to make some of these myself.

    Thanks so much!
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #11 - February 6th, 2008, 1:15 am
    Post #11 - February 6th, 2008, 1:15 am Post #11 - February 6th, 2008, 1:15 am
    Thank you everyone!

    re: marzipan/almond paste. I guess that it's all been explained, really. Not really the same thing. I have, however, been able to make almond paste by simply mixing almonds (o.k., fresh almonds - you need the oils in them) and sugar. Perhaps you'll need to add a few tsp water and/or a little oil to make it into a paste but I've done it without any additives. Don't make too much though as it won't save (it turns into a hard, crystalline lump). Any texture issues really won't matter in this preparation anyway as you'll be mixing it with the bread and milk...

    Thank everyone, again, for all of the nice comments!
  • Post #12 - April 18th, 2011, 9:19 am
    Post #12 - April 18th, 2011, 9:19 am Post #12 - April 18th, 2011, 9:19 am
    First of all thanks for the wonderful recipes i am Swedish recipes Fan :)
    I would like to get the ingredients of the Semlor please
    thanks again

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