Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fettisdagen | Fat Tuesday

At the start of the new year, Swedes begin baking the semla – a small, wheat flour bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Traditionally eaten on Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday) when the buns were eaten at a last celebratory feast before the Christian fasting period of Lent.
Daniel's mom brought homemade mini-Semlas for his birthday
Arriving earlier and earlier, the semlor (plural of semla) appear in bakery windows just after the Christmas holiday. In Gislaved, a local bakery joined the nationwide promotional Semlogram give-away that started in January. Users could go online to send a free semla to a friend via Facebook. I was fortunate enough to receive a Semlogram from one of the youth players in our club, Thelma, and joined her for a fika so we could enjoy our Semlas together.
Thelma and I at Bernt's Konditori in Gislaved

Semla recipe

About 15 large or 25 small buns


100 g butter
300 ml milk, 3%
50 g fresh yeast (for sweet dough)
1 tsp crushed cardamom or the grated peel of 1 orange
½ tsp salt
85 g sugar
about 500–550 g plain flour
1 beaten egg for brushing


200 g marzipan
bun centres
100 ml milk
300 ml whipping cream


Powdered sugar for dusting


1. Melt the butter and add the milk. Heat to 37°C.

2. Crumble the yeast in a bowl and add the cardamom or the orange peel.

3. Add the milky liquid and stir until the yeast has melted. Stir in the salt, the sugar and most of the flour, but save a little flour for later.

4. Work the dough in a food processor/dough mixer for about 15 minutes.

5. Let it rise to twice its size in the bowl, about 40 minutes.

6. Place the dough on a floured pastry board and cut into pieces. Roll into buns and place on oven paper or greased baking sheet. Let the buns rise to twice their size, about one hour.

7. Brush the buns with egg. Bake in the lower part of the oven, at 225°C for around 8–10 minutes for large buns and 250°C for 5–7 minutes for small. Leave to cool on wire racks.

8. Cut off the bun tops. Scoop out the centre of each bun (about 2 tsp) and crumble in a bowl.

9. Rough grate the marzipan and mix it with the crumbs and milk into a creamy mass.

10. Fill the hollow buns with this mixture.

11. Whip the cream and squirt or spoon it over the filling. Place the top on the bun and dust with icing sugar.

12. Serve alone with coffee or milk

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