A Scandi Shrove Tuesday With Semlor

Semlor Topped With Vanilla Whipped Cream

Semla Topped With Vanilla Whipped Cream

The snow was beginning to clear but it was still stacked high and muddy at the sides of the road.  A constant swish of tyres on the wet tarmac was a backing track to my days in the kitchen.  But the sky was a brilliant bright blue and the sun strong and warm, despite it only being the beginning of March.  This was the start of spring in Sweden and I was an au-pair looking after a two year old.

Our daily walks took us down to the deep inlet from the Baltic Sea, which had been frozen all winter.  A dull blue grey expanse, edged with stands of bright white and black, silver birch trees, stark skeletons against the sky.  The beauty of the landscape in winter was breathtaking and I’ve never forgotten it.

Three Semlor, Cardamom Infused Bread Roll

Three Semlor, Cardamom Infused Bread Roll

Just as I’ve never forgotten the day my boss arrived back one lunchtime holding a white cardboard box and giving an enthusiastic thumbs up.  As an ex model, cake boxes of goodies were few and far between, so I was excited to see what might have tempted her away from her perpetually calorie counted life.  It was the run up to Lent and I was introduced to a Shrove Tuesday treat, Semlor. Two round shiny buns, dusted with icing sugar and topped with a jaunty lid, set slightly askew by the weight of whipped cream underneath it.

The box was set down carefully and a pan of milk placed on the stove.  This took on the reverence of a ritual, shallow bowls were taken out and a puddle of warm milk poured in to each.  Carefully the buns were settled into the centre of the liquid, deep enough to lap around the edges of the cream filling.   The cardamom infused bread seemed to gently melt into the creamy milk and I  then discovered the secret marzipan centre, buried under the stack of whipped vanilla cream.  A wonderful fragrant concoction of enriched bread dough, cream and almonds.  An indulgent Shrove Tuesday treat.

RECIPE

Icing Sugar Dusted Semlor

Icing Sugar Dusted Semlor

Shrove Tuesday Semlor

Makes 8

  • 50g fresh yeast or 12g active dry yeast
  • 140ml single cream
  • 100g butter
  • 60g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 egg plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
  • 400g plain flour

For The Filling

  • 15g white marzipan
  • 225ml double cream
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste
  • Icing sugar to dredge
  • Milk to serve if required

Method

  • Crumble the fresh yeast into a mixing bowl and mix with several tablespoon of the cream to form a loose paste
  • If using dry yeast add to the flour.  Mix the melted butter and cream together and continue with the recipe
  • Melt the butter and leave to cool, once lukewarm add to the bowl with the cream yeast mixture
  • Add the remainder of the cream, sugar, ground almonds, cardamom and egg and mix well
  • Add half the flour and combine, add the remainder of the flour and form a dough
  • Turn out onto a flour dusted surface and knead until smooth
  • Return to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 60 to 90 minutes until doubled in size
  • Knock back and knead again until smooth, form into 8 evenly sized balls and leave to prove again for 60 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 220c
  • Place the rolls onto a parchment covered baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg
  • Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until glossy and brown
Semlor Straight From The Oven

Semlor Straight From The Oven

  • Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled
  • Meanwhile add the vanilla paste to the double cream and whip until it holds soft peaks
  • Cut the marzipan into 8 equal rectangles
  • Cut the top off the rolls and remove a little of the crumb centre, place a piece of marzipan into each one
Placing The Marzipan In The Semlor

Placing The Marzipan In The Semlor

  • Pipe or dollop the whipped cream onto each one and replace the cutoff top
  • Dredge with icing sugar, serve with warmed milk, if desired

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