Semlor might not look much from the outside, but let me assure you they taste out of this world. A soft, cardamon-flavoured dough encasing marzipan and whipped cream, Semlor are the perfect tea-time treat. Scandinavian in origin and traditionally eaten in the run up to Lent, these little buns are only available for a short period of time. This recipe here was adapted from Trine Hahnemann’s book ‘Scandinavian baking’, which has so many lovely recipes for lovers of both sweet and savoury.
For the bun
500g strong white bread flour
1 and a half teaspoon fast-action yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of cardamon pods
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
100g crème fraîche
200ml whole-fat milk
For the filling
4 teaspoon double cream
100ml whipping cream (or double cream)
plus icing flour for dusting
- Start by making the dough. Measure out the dry ingredients into a large bowl, placing the salt and sugar to one side of the flour, and the yeast granules to the other.
- In a pestle and mortar, grind the cardamon pods until they crack open and you can pull out the tiny grains inside. Remove the pod-shells and add to the mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and gently warm the milk. Mix these two ingredients together, along with the crème fraîche and pour into the well in the centre of the flour. At this point you are going to have to get your hands messy and bring the ingredients roughly together. Once a loose dough has formed, tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth, firm dough. If you are lucky enough to own a stand-mixer, turn on and knead for 5 minutes using the dough-hook.
- Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to prove for 2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size.
- Line a baking tray with parchment. Once proven, split the dough into 10 roughly even-sized lumps. Roll each lump between a lightly floured surface and the palm of one hand until smooth and spherical.
- Place on the baking tray, cover and leave to prove for 45 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 200•C.
- Crack an egg, and lightly beat. Brush each bun generously with egg-wash so they come out the oven golden and shiny.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Once out the oven, transfer to an iron rack and leave to cool. Take a sharp serrated knife and gently cut the roof of each bun and place to one side. Scoop out a little of the fluffy inside of the bun and place in a separate bowl. Add 4 teaspoons of double cream and 75g of coarsely grated marzipan to the bun crumbs and mix into a creamy paste. Pat the marzipan paste back into the centre of the buns.
- Whip 100ml of cream until thick enough to pipe. Pipe on top of the marzipan, being sure to go right to the edge of the buns so it peeps out invitingly. Replace the lids and dust generously with icing sugar.