© 2018 Skandium. All rights reserved.

Semla Season, a.k.a the best buns in town

One of our favourite Scandinavian foodie destinations, ScandiKitchen, has been whetting our appetite over the past few weeks with photos of their many semlor buns. If you’re not familiar with a semla (singular of semlor), you need to become so immediately.

The semla – a cardamom yeast bun, filled with marzipan, whipped cream and dusted with icing sugar – was traditionally eaten in Sweden on Shrove Tuesday as part of a carb-filled celebratory feast before Lent.

Today, semlor buns appear in Swedish bakeries earlier each year, and such is their iconic status that national newspapers run taste tests to find the best buns in town.

Scandikitchen has been serving them since the start of the year, and will continue up until Easter.

Below is 3 versions created by the talented people at ScandiKitchen:

 

TRADITIONAL SEMLOR BUNS, BY SCANDIKITCHEN

SWEDISH SEMLOR BUNS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUN:

  • 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

FILLING:

  • 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

MAKES 12

*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.

 

NORWEGIAN FASTELAVNSBOLLER – BERRY CREAM BUNS, BY SCANDIKITCHEN

Norwegian-fastelavnsboller-berry-cream-buns

Fastelavnsboller is the Norwegian version of Semlor – using jam in place of the marzipan filling which is more commonly seen in Sweden.

BUN:

  • 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

FILLING:

  • 100ml of our favourite jam – raspberry is most traditional but strawberry or blueberry are also popular (and delicious!)

WHIPPED CREAM:

  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla sugar or extract (optional)

MAKES 12
*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 cling film 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 cling film 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. Add about 2 tsp jam on the bottom half (or to taste).

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla (if using) until stiff, then use a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle to pipe cream on all the buns (a spoon will do too). Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

Psst – eat the lid first to avoid the cream filling going everywhere as you bite into it.

 

DANISH ‘FASTELAVNSBOLLER LENT BUNS, BY SCANDIKITCHEN

2016-02-05-13.33.57

‘Fastelavnsboller’ are eaten on the Monday before Lent in Denmark, not the Tuesday –because we Danes celebrate the Carnival on the Monday before Shrove Tuesday. At Danish bakeries, you will find these are made with a type of pastry dough, at home, however, people make these yeast dough buns – heavier and more wholesome. Note that these buns are also served in some families in Norway, although Norwegians have both this version and also the version closer to the ‘semla’ – but with jam inside as well as whipped cream.

BUN:

  • 13 g/2 ½ teaspoons dried/active dry yeast or 25 g/1 oz. fresh yeast *
  • 250 ml/1 cup whole milk, heated to 36–37°C (97–99°F)
  • 100 g/ ¾ stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 40 g/3 tablespoons caster/granulated sugar
  • 400–500 g/3–3 2/3cups white strong/bread flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Egg for brushing.

 FILLING:

  • 1 batch of Pastry Cream (you may have some left over – use this for other cakes, crumbles etc)
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 30g corn flour
  • 25g butter

TOPPING:

  • 150g icing sugar
  • Hot water
  • 50g melted dark chocolate
  • Sprinkles

METHOD

Make the pastry cream:

Add the milk to a saucepan with the vanilla and bring to boiling point.

In a food mixer, whisk the sugar, eggs and corn flour together.

Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture at medium speed, then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan. Bring back to the boil, taking care not to burn. It needs to be at boiling point to thicken (around 30 secs). Take off the heat. Add the butter and stir. Transfer to a cooler bowl and leave to set.

If using fresh yeast, add the warm milk to a mixing bowl and add the yeast; stir until dissolved, then pour into the bowl of the food mixer.

If using dry ACTIVE yeast, pour the warm milk into a bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and whisk together. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to become bubbly. Pour into the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start the machine and add the cooled, super soft butter. Allow to combine with the yeast for 1 minute or so, then add the sugar. Allow to combine for 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, weigh out 400 g/3 cups of the flour, add the cardamom and salt and mix together. Start adding the flour and spices into the milk mixture, bit by bit. Add the beaten egg. Keep kneading for 5 minutes. You may need to add more flour – you want the mixture to end up a bit sticky, but not so much that it sticks to your finger if you poke it. It is better not to add too much flour as this will result in dry buns. You can always add more later.

Once mixed, leave the dough in a bowl and cover with a dish towel or cling film. Allow to rise for around 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Dust a table top with flour and turn out the dough. Using your hands, knead the dough and work in more flour if needed. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 30 x 40 cm rectangle (approx). Cut the dough into 12 equal squares.

On each square, add a good tablespoon of pastry cream. Gather the corners together on top, then slowly gather the sides, too, to ensure the pastry cream stays inside the bun and won’t seep out during baking.

When bun is completely closed, turn over and place on a lined baking tray, seam side down. Leave the buns to rise for a further 20-25 minutes.

Turn the oven to 180/200C and heat up. Brush the buns with egg. Pop the buns in and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden and baked through. Leave to cool. Baking time may vary depending on your oven – adjust baking time accordingly.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate. Mix the icing sugar with a tablespoon of hot water, maybe another one… Until you have a thick, smooth mixture. Add the melted chocolate and stir until smooth, then set aside to cool a bit (or your buns will have melted icing all over).

Top each bun with chocolate icing, add sprinkles – and serve.