Monday, 7 March 2011

1 Semla, 2 semlor

While in France people feast on doughnuts, crêpes and waffle for Fat Tuesday, in Sweden, people eat semlor the day before Lent. To read more about this Scandinavian pastry, click here.

Vegan semlor
Makes 4 small/medium semlor. Takes 2 hours

15 g butter
1/2 dl soy milk
5 g fresh yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
pinch of salt
1 dl + 1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp potato flour (or maïzena)
a bit of milk for washing

1. Melt the butter. Add the milk and heat the mixture to 37° C. Crumble the yeast into a bowl, add the milk mixture and stir until dissolved. Add sugar, cardamom, salt, and almost all of the flour. Combine into a dough and knead 5 minutes by machine or 10 minutes by hand. Cover the dough and let rise for 40 minutes.

2. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll into balls and put them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Heat up the oven to 225° C.

3. Wash the rolls with some milk and bake for 10 minutes, until they are golden brown. Let cool on racks covered with a cloth.

While the buns are cooling, prepare the filling. You can either buy almond paste (not marzipan!) or simply make it yourself:

Almond paste
Makes about 40 g

1/2 dl almonds
1/2 dl confectioner's sugar
1 tsp water (or orange blossom flower, which is not so traditional)

Blanch the almonds and grind them finely. Combine the ground almonds with the sugar, adding a little water.

The filling

40 g almond paste
15 ml milk
bread crumbs
60 ml whipping cream
confectioner's sugar

Cut the top of the buns (1/3 of the bun) and carve a hole in the middle. Combine the crumb, almond paste (grated) and milk. Adjust with a little more milk if you think the mixture is too stodgy. Divide the filling. Whip the cream and pipe or spoon it on top of the buns. Put the lid back on and sprinkle a little confectioner's sugar on it.

That's it! You can now enjoy freshly made semlor. They can either be eaten just as they are - which is a bit tricky as you'll see - or you can place the semla in a bowl of warm milk and use a spoon to eat it! In that case, the semla is called "hetvägg".

I am not a big fan of semlor to be honest, but I wanted to please my husband who had cut ties with the tradition since the day he became vegan. However, I liked those semlor much more than the ones I bought in the past at the Konditorier (actually it's the first time I liked it). Why? Simply because like for most vegan cakes, this version was much lighter than the original, without missing any of the deliciousness.

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