This week Swedes all over the world have been treating themselves to a “semla”. Traditionally eaten only on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent, semlor are available at cafés in Sweden from Christmas until Easter. It is a sweet cardamon bun with almond paste and whipped cream in the middle. Alex and Elle enjoyed them at the Swedish Church Café in Melbourne during the week.

Semla recipe (15 large or 25 small buns)
100 g butter
300 ml milk, 3%
50 g fresh yeast 
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

Icing 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 in the form of a “hetvägg" in a deep bowl with warm milk and ground cinnamon.