Happy Fat Tuesday! In Swedish, “Fat Tuesday” is “Fettisdag,” and the traditional treat is a Fettisdagbullar – also known as Semla (Semlor if you’re talking about more than one). Semlor are cardamom bread rolls filled with an almond paste mixture and topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar, and they are GOOOOD.
I go to a church that is of Swedish extraction, so we have a number of Real Swedish cookbooks between us. A group of us got together to make these (after buying them the previous 3 years), and we noticed that all of the Real Swedish Recipes call for fresh yeast – and a lot of it! That’s hard to find, so we found another recipe on allrecipes.com and went with it.
We think this recipe is good, but it needs more cardamom. The rolls are nice and cardamom-y when eaten plain, but once you add the filling the cardamom is drowned out. Otherwise, these are perfect! They aren’t hard to make, and they’re a lovely treat.
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups warm milk (70-80°F)
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
5 c all-purpose flour, plus 1 more cup later
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (next time I'll add about 1/2 tsp. more, or use freshly ground!)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c milk
5 oz. almond paste
2 cups whipping cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, mix the milk, eggs, and butter. Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and let sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk or sift together 5 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, the salt, and the cardamom. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of flour and the baking powder; set aside.
Stir the milk mixture, then add the flour-sugar-cardamom mixture to it. Stir until a soft dough forms. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.
After it's risen, stir in the reserved flour mixture and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough comes is smooth (you're looking for "windowpanes," if you're familiar with breadmaking).
Cut dough into 16-20 pieces and form into balls. Place the balls on greased baking sheets, cover with towels or plastic wrap, and let rise until roughly doubled, 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool.
Once cool, slice off the top (about 1/2" thick at center). Cut or scoop out the centers of the rolls, leaving a shell about a 1/2" thick around the edges. Tear the centers into small pieces and add up to 1/2 cup of milk, to moisten. Stir in the almond paste until smooth. Add more milk as needed, until the filling is as soft as pudding.
Spoon the filling back into the bread shells (you may have extra; I won't tell if you eat it with a spoon, because that's certainly not what I did...). Whip the cream with 2 Tbsp sugar. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream onto the rolls, nice and high. Replace the "lids" of the bread. Just before serving, dust the whole thing with confectioner's sugar.