Tuesday, March 8, 2011


A Semla is a traditional pastry made in various forms in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland, and today happens to be Shrove Tuesday, the day when it is traditionally eaten in Sweden! Way back, this day was the day before Lent, but since Sweden turned down Catholicism a long time ago, now it's just a happy celebration of this fabulous pastry. The Semla is actually sold from Christmas until Easter, and the average Swede eats 5 every year (not the home made ones counted).

The traditional Swedish Semla is a sweet yeasted bun, filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream.

Vegan Semla
(translated from the excellent Swedish blogger Veganmage). The dough for the bun is the same that is used for cinnamon rolls, so use your favourite recipe for that if you want to instead!

75 g non-dairy margarine
300 ml/1 c + 2 tbs non-dairy milk
25 g fresh yeast (sub for dry if you want to, and do what the package tells you)
100 ml/1/3 c + 1 tbs granulated sugar
0,5 tsp salt
2 tsp cardamom
900 ml/4 all-purpose flour (more or less depending by need)

In a small saucepan, melt the margarine, then add the milk and heat until lukewarm (37° C/98° F). Crumble the yeast in a big bowl and add the sugar. Dissolve the yeast in a small part of the liquid, then add the rest together with salt and cardamom. Add the flour and knead to form a smooth and elastic dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 40 minutes.

Divide the dough in 12 parts, shape to form round buns and put on a baking sheet and let rise again for 40 minutes. Bake buns in 200° C/390 ° F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Slice off the top of the bun, and save it for later. Dig a small hole in the bun, taking out some of the inside. Mix some of that with almond paste (for all 12 of them, you'll need about 200 g. Marzipan is OK too), and add some veg milk to make it easier to blend. Put the filling in the holes. Top with whipped vegan cream, and seal the deal with the top of the bun. Sift some powdered sugar on top for the classical look.

The super traditional: Hetvägg (literary: hot wall). The Semla is placed in a bowl and served with hot milk poured over it.
Berry: Mix the cream with some fresh or frozen berries.
Chocolate-Coffee: Add 2 tbs of cocoa powder to the bun dough. Leave out the soymilk in the filling, and use coffee instead, along with some chopped dark chocolate. Add some cocoa powder to the whipped cream.

Fun fact (or rumour): The Swedish king Adolf Fredrik got a stroke from eating to much, and died 1771. He had a pretty "normal" royal dinner consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, fish and champagne, and had 14 helpings of Semla with hot milk for dessert.


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