Semlor are traditional Swedish pastries eaten before Lent. Lent is no longer officially observed in Sweden, and semlor can now be had almost year around. They are more common in the weeks before Easter still.
This recipe for semlor can be made by hand, but I have better luck using a bread machine to help mix, kneed, and rise the dough.
Baker's Ammonia, or ammonium carbonate (sw. hjorthornsalt), can optoinally be used to make the crust more crisp and tender. We use it only in the outer layer of the buns so that the ammonia smell can completely evaporate in the oven. Baker's ammonia can be mail ordered from for example LorAnn Oils, King Arthur Flour, or search Amazon.com Grocery for Ammonia.
- Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add milk and heat until it feels warm.
- Add salt, sugar, cardamom, and egg. Stir and heat until warm but not hot or the egg will start to cook.
- Dump into a mixing bowl or bread machine pan.
Add flour, dry yeast, and baking powder. Mix and work the dough until it is elastic and lets go of the sides of the bowl, or use a bread machine program for preparing dough.
- Rise under a kitchen towel until about doubled in size, 30-60 minutes.
- Put the finished dough on a lightly floured surface, kneed it a little, then divide into 10 or 12 pieces.
- Optionally, mix Baker's Ammonia with an equal amount or more of flour on the baking surface.
- With a cupped hand, roll the dough into round balls in the flour/ammonia mix, and place the buns onto a cookie sheet. For easier cleanup, use baking paper on the cookie sheets.
- Rise under a tented baking towel for 30 minutes in a warm and draft-free place. Meanwhile heat the oven with the rack in the center position. If you have ceramic baking tiles, put them on the rack to soak in the heat.
- When the buns have puffed up to about twice the size, put the cookie sheet in the oven. The buns should have a medium brown color, adjust time or temperature if necessary.
- Cool on wire rack under towel.
- Cut tops off the buns and put aside.
- Use a fork and dig out some of the bread in the center where the lid was cut off.
- Crumble the cut out bread and mix with almond paste and some milk into a fairly loose batter.
- Divide the almond batter betewen the buns, placing it in the pit in each one.
- Whip the cream and pipe it in a circle around the almond batter. A whipped cream aerosol can with a piping tip is very convenient for this and makes a good result if you are going to eat them right away. Regular whipped cream has longer staying power if you need to store the pastries an hour or more.
- Put the cut off tops on top of the cream filling.
- Sift a little powdered sugar over the pastries for garnish.
- Serve with coffe, or the traditional way in a bowl of hot milk.