With their buttery dough, rich almond filling and sweet whipped cream, semlor were once a prime example of pre-Lent indulgence.
Makes 20 medium-size, 40 small or 60 mini semlor
1 ⅓ sticks butter (150 grams)
2 cups milk
5 teaspoons yeast
½ teaspoon salt
Scant ½ cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-2 teaspoons ground cardamom
7 cups (875 grams) all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten with a spoonful of water or milk, for the egg wash
Melt the butter in a pot, add the milk and heat until it's warm to the touch (but not too hot, to avoid killing the yeast). Transfer to a large mixing bowl, sprinkle in the yeast, and wait a minute or two for it to dissolve.
Add the salt, sugar, egg, cardamom, and most of the flour. Mix with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (you may not need all of the flour). If you don't have a mixer, you can turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and mix by hand, being careful not to add too much flour.
When the dough is mixed, turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Divide the dough into 20 medium, 40 small, or 60 very small lumps, depending upon the size of finished semlor you desire. Shape into rounds, place on a baking sheet, and cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
When the buns are almost risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly brush the buns with the egg wash, and bake until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes (time will vary depending upon the size of the semlor). Transfer to a rack to cool, and cover with a towel. While they cool, prepare the filling.
⅔ cup almonds, ground
⅔ cup sugar, plus an additional spoonful or two for sweetening the cream
Scant ½ cup milk
1 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks with a few spoonfuls sugar
about ¼ cup powdered sugar to finish
Cut off the top 1/4-1/3 or so of each semla, setting them aside, and scoop out a bit of the crumb below to make a shallow hole. Place the scraped-out crumbs into a bowl, and mix together with the ground almonds, sugar, and enough of the milk to make a soft but not runny mixture (you may not need all of the milk).
Fill the buns with the almond mixture, then top with a dollop of whipped cream. Place the cut-off tops back on the semlor, and sift some powdered sugar over the tops. Serve.
Source: Adapted from Vår Kokbok by KF Provkök, published by Rabén Prisma
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