Mera Pyaar: Semla. The great Swedish sweet buns!

I instantly fell in love at my first bite of Semla (semla-singular, semlor-plural), my beloved Swedish buns. It is not just its sweetness which makes it so lovable but it is everything one can imagine in a dessert. It has tender sweetness, very soft and fluffy, creamy, and rich in almond and cardamom flavors. Oh! it’s so amazing, it’s beyond words and description.

The first time I had my Semla was way back in January 2015 and was head-over-heels in love with it. I ditched the spoon and gorged on it with both my hands. I had only a couple of more chances to gorge on this fluffy, creamy delicacy before their supply stopped in the market. Yes! I know, it is so heartbreaking to part from something you are so fond of and you didn’t even have a chance to fully explore it. Semlor are buns traditionally eaten on Fat-Tuesday in Sweden. But these days we can find semlor from January till Fat-tuesday, which falls somewhere towards end February. And finding Semlor outside this period is such a big no no.

I began craving for Semla every now and then. There are high chances that you miss it completely simply because you were not in Sweden around Fat-tuesday. So, when I could not hold any longer and the wait seemed endless, I firmly decided to make them myself and eat to my heart’s content.

I am sure there are many more friends out there like me who have been bitten by the Semla love bug, and there would be many who would like give it a hand after reading this.

So, here is this for those.

List of ingredients you’ll need:
  • 250ml milk
  • 80g melted butter
  • 12g active dry yeast (you may also use 25g of fresh yeast)
  • 40g sugar
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp egg replacer (1/2 egg if you’re egg eater)
  • 2tsp ground cardamom
  • 450-500g plain bread flour
  • 2tbsp milk and 1tsp honey mixed for brushing the buns (alternatively, you may use 1/2 egg)
Ingredients for filling:
  • 40g almonds
  • 30g sugar
  • 1tbsp water or as per need
  • 300ml chilled whipping cream
  • 80ml sweetened condensed milk (alternatively you may use 100g sugar)
  • 2tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp grounded bitter almonds (optional)
  • 1tsp cardamon (optional)
  • Icing sugar to dust (optional)
  1. Melt the butter in a mixing bowl and add the milk, ensuring a lukewarm temperature of the mixture. Add the active dry yeast and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add the egg replacer.
  3. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated and then start to add more of the flour, little by little, until you have a dough that is only a little bit sticky. Adding too much flour will result in dry buns. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes. Leave it to rise in a warm place until it almost doubles in size (30 min).
  4. 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. Make round and uniform balls. Place on baking tray with good spacing between buns. Leave to rise for another 25-30 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven at 200ºC.
  6. Gently brush each bun with the milk and honey mixture and bake in the oven for about 13 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 towel immediately – this will prevent the buns from forming a crust.
  7. When the buns have cooled down to room temperature, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1cm from the top. Scoop out about ⅓ of the inside of the bun and place crumbs in a separate bowl.
  8. Grind almonds and sugar in a mixer. Add a few drops of water in between to make it a paste.
  9. Mix the almond paste with the crumb until it forms a very sticky mass –add a dash of milk 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, bitter almond, cardamom, and condensed milk 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.

The soft, creamy, fluffy buns are ready to melt in your mouth!

SemlorP.S. It took me 3 hours to pull it together but doubtlessly it’s worth it all the effort you put into it. The above recipe serves 12 people.

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