Semla (Semlor for plural) is a delightful Swedish-Finnish almond and cream-filled bun. Whilst often eaten during the Lenten period and especially on Shrove Tuesday, they are lovely anytime during Easter and beyond. For the buns themselves, I use a reliable bun recipe of mine, but perfume it with some ground cardamom. If you can grind it yourself it will be much more fragrant, although the pre-ground spice is fine too. Then, I fill them with an almond paste and finally, a generous piping of whipped cream swirled on top. The lid of the bun is placed on top and then dusted with icing sugar.
Often recipes call for pre-bought marzipan, but I like to make a simple almond and sugar paste that I flavour with vanilla and then slacken with some milk. The bun innards, which have been scooped out, are also added into the paste, so there is no waste and also gives the mixture some structure. If you’re not fond of almonds, a spoonful of raspberry or strawberry jam can be dolloped into the buns instead (it’s just as nice and something my kids usually prefer). These buns are best eaten on the day they’re baked – simply fill them just before serving.
Traditionally, semlor are sometimes eaten in a bowl filled with warm milk, but I love them on their own, simply served with a strong coffee. I like to use plain whipped cream, but feel free to sift a little icing sugar into the cream before whipping if you would like it sweetened. You can buy almonds already blanched, or alternatively blanch natural almonds in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute then slip off the skins.
Julia’s Semla (spiced buns with almond and cream filling) are best eaten the day they come out of the oven! Perfect for Easter! Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.
The buns are gently spiced with cardamom. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.
Traditionally, the buns are filled with almond filling and topped with cream. But, jam works just as well! Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.
Julia says the buns are best served with a strong cup of coffee. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.
Semla are traditionally served during the Lenten period – but they’re also best enjoyed all Easter long. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.
Click here to download recipe printout