PrincessSemla, Swedish pastry
I’m coming over with some princess stuff today. Yes, I know, maybe it doesn’t fit me at all, but know that it’s something I like very much. I’ve always liked fairy tales, stories and legends of fantastic creatures, fairies, elves and everything related to the world of fantasy. You see, we all have our things and I have my cheesy side. Hahaha. But, that also has its good side and it fills me with pride and satisfaction to be able to bring you these wonderful sweet pastry. PrincessSemla.
Can there be anything in the world more beautiful than this? I know the decoration is very simple, even antique with a very vintage look. But that’s just what makes the candy so much more charming.
What are semlor or semla?
Semlor is a traditional Swedish bun that is very typical of Lent. In fact they are eaten on Carnival Tuesday, a day they call “Fat Tuesday” or Semla Day, Semmeldagen. It is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated national days in Sweden. This year 2020 it 25th February, so make a note in your diaries to celebrate this day as it deserves!
These are little buns, very tender, flavoured with cardamom, filled with almond paste and decorated with whipped cream. With this description it is not surprising that six million semlor are sold in a single day during “Fat Tuesday”. Of course, they sell it to me like that and I buy 3 kilos with my eyes closed.
Over time they have had many popular names since they began to make their presence felt in homes from the 13th century onwards.
Fettisdagbulle, greasy Tuesday or fastlagsbulle, carnival bun… In the year 1689 another popular name appears, hetvägg. This name is still used today to refer to a semla that is eaten with hot milk.
That was the original way of eating it, although later on cream and then almond paste were incorporated from the 19th century onwards. The current name semla comes from the Latin simila which was used to define “quality of wheat flour“.
The cream, along with the top “lid”, was not added until after World War II. Along with these changes also came the name that is used today to call them, semla.
Today you can find and taste semlor in Sweden not only in the Semmeldagen, but also from January 6th, the day of the Three Kings.
Every year new varieties are created, each one more creative and different; semla in the shape of a sausage, wrap, with different fillings and flavours…
Semla origin and the concept of “Fat Tuesday”.
In the 14th century, fasting for 40 days before Easter was very important for the Swedes. To be able to survive without eating properly for a long period of time, a new law was instituted that established a compulsory feast. In it, one could eat as much food as one could assimilate and it had to take place 3 days before the 40-day fast.
The Swedish church, which at that time had the power to impose laws, named the “Law of the Fast”.
Each of the 3 days would have its own theme and name:
- Pork Sunday
- Scone Monday
- Pancake Tuesday, which would later become “Fat Tuesday”, semmeldagen
During these three days, not everything was about eating. They also dressed up and played games.
Before Gustav Vasa became king, Sweden was not only Catholic, but only allowed to eat semla on “Fat Tuesday”. After Gustav Vasa took the throne and said goodbye to the Pope and the Catholic Church, he decided, to the delight of the entire population, that the seed could be eaten between December and February.
Other ways to consume it.
In medieval times it was usual to serve semlor with hot milk. The bun was placed in a bowl and hot milk was poured around it. Probably the reason for consuming it this way was because of the need to soften a bun or dry bread, from days ago. Today there are still a large number of people who prefer to eat it that way, but with a soft bun, of course.
In my case I can tell you that I have eaten them both ways and, with hot milk, it is a real delicacy… Really. There’s no breakfast more perfect than this!
It is said that the King of Sweden, Adolf Fredrik (1710-1771), died of a cerebral collapse. It is believed that it may have been caused by or joined to eating 14 semla in one sitting, served in a bowl of milk, during “Fat Tuesday” and as a dessert. Before this little brooch there was lobster, caviar, smoked herring and champagne. What a feast.
But… This one you’re leaving us isn’t the original.
No, it’s not! I assume you know and have on hand hundreds of thousands of recipes for semla. And I have no doubt that they will all be spectacular. For that very reason, when I saw this PrincessSemla I fell in love.
Today’s recipe is a hybrid of Semla and Prinsesstårta.
This is a traditional Swedish cake that consists of alternate layers of sponge cake, custard and jam. All this is covered with a layer of green marzipan and sprinkled with icing sugar. Finally it is decorated with a pink or red marzipan rose. The original recipe first appeared in the Prinsessornas kokbok recipe book in the 1930s. The cake was originally called grön tårta (green cake), but was given the name prinsesstårta because the princesses were said to be especially proud of it.
The idea to carry out this bold combination came from the hand of Markus Ekelund, owner of the Thimons bakery, in 2017. Apparently it was a complete success and I am not surprised. He combined two of the best-selling sweets and the result was this marvel that I bring you today.
A cardamom-flavoured semla bun (and based on a mixture of two of my recipes, Maritozzi and conchas), an almond cream and raspberry jam filling, covered with a homemade green marzipan, all topped with whipped cream and dried roses. There are no kilometers in this world to burn everything I just introduced to you.
Ingredients for 14 units
FOR SEMLA DOUGH:
- 500 g bread flour
- 225 g whole milk
- 90 g sugar
- 30 g honey
- 1 large egg
- 100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp ground cardamom(6 g cardamom pods)
- 3 g osmotolerant dried yeast
- 8 g salt
- 1 beaten egg for brushing
FOR GREEN MARZIPAN:
- 250 g ground almonds
- 240 g icing sugar
- 10 g honey
- 30 g water + green coloring paste "Party Green"
FOR ALMOND CREAM:
- 125 g ground almonds
- 60 g whole milk
- 50 g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
FOR WHIPPED CREAM:
- 300 g heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp icing sugar
DECORATE AND FILL:
- raspberry jam
- dried edible rose buds
- icing sugar
Preparamos el mazapán.
- Dissolve green coloring paste in the water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix the ground almond with icing sugar, honey and water.
- Start mixing the ingredients with the help of a silicone spatula. Once it begins to acquire a more solid consistency, knead it with our hands.
- Knead the dough very well until a uniform, smooth and manageable consistency is achieved. It will take a while.
- Shape a cylinder, wrap very well in film and let stand in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Make semla dough.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer/kneader, add the flour together with the milk, egg, dry yeast and sugar. Knead at speed 1 for about 8-10 minutes. We will have to get a semi-developed dough.
- Add honey along with salt and vanilla. Knead again until they are completely integrated.
- Stop the stand mixer/kneader and start adding the butter little by little. Let it fully integrate into the dough before adding more.
- Knead the dough until the gluten is well developed. It should be elastic, soft, smooth and not break.
- Add the ground cardamom and knead again, for 2-3 minutes, to help it distribute evenly.
- Shape into a ball with the dough and place inside a bowl or hermetic container. Cover with film or with its corresponding lid.
- Leave it to rise to 1/3 of its volume. In my case it was 3 hours and 15 minutes at 70ºF/21ºC.
- Refrigerate overnight.
Temper the dough and shape.
- The dough must triple its volume. In case you have not done it in the refrigerator, leave it at room temperature until it reaches that size. If the dough has tripled, temper it 1-2 hours before working with it.
- Depending on the temperature it can take more or less time. In my case it was 3 1/2 hours at 82,4ºF/28ºC controlled.
- Divide the dough into 14 pieces of 70-75 g each.
- Shape smoothly, without exerting too much tension. The softer you manipulate the dough, the more tender the final result will be. Remember that if you have created leftovers when dividing the dough, they should always remain in the centre of the piece..
- In this case I decided not to preshape the dough, but to shape it directly.
- Place the pieces on a perforated tray lined with baking paper. You will need two trays.
- Cover with film and leave it to rise until it triples in size. In my case it was 3 hours at 82,4ºF/28ºC controlled. If it's less hot, it'll take longer to rise.
- Preheat oven to 355ºF/180ºC.
- Brush them with beaten egg.
- Bake at medium height for 12 minutes. Remember that the inside temperature must reach 190º-194ºF/88º-90ºC for the baking to be finished.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a rack.
- In the NOTES section, I tell you how to keep them for a long time.
Make whipped cream.
- Cream must be cold 24 hours before used it.
- The bowl in which we are going to make whipped cream must be cold. I recommend to use one aluminium bowl and freeze 20 minutes before beat it.
- Pour heavy cream into freeze bowl and beat with an electric mixer into slow speed.
- Once cream is becoming to form stiff peaks, add sugar little by little stirring the whole time. Increase speed gradually but without reaches high one. Ideally use medium speed.
- Before finish to beat the cream, add vanilla extract and beat until get a perfect whipping cream. Be sure not to over-beat, otherwise cream will become lumpy and butter-like.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill until used it.
Make almond cream.
- In a bowl, add the almond with the icing sugar, vanilla and milk.
- Mix until you get a paste.
- Place in a piping bag. Set aside.
Cover the buns with the green marzipan.
- Take 50 g of green marzipan and stretch it with a roller pin. To prevent it from sticking to the work surface and the roller, sprinkle with icing sugar.
- We must stretch it until it reaches a diameter larger than the size of the bun. Be careful not to stretch the marzipan too much, as it will look translucent when placed on the roll and will not look good.
- To help the marzipan adhere to the bun, slightly moisten the surface of the marzipan with water. Place it carefully on the roll and adjust it well.
- Cut out the excess marzipan and fold the folds towards the base.
- The leftovers can be joined with the rest of the marzipan to continue covering the buns.
- Repeat the same process with the rest of the pieces.
- In case you are going to leave them prepared in advance, but without filling, once you place the marzipan, wrap it with film individually and refrigerate it.
- Put the whipped cream in a piping bag with a 1M tip.
- With the help of a knife, cut the top of the bun. We can do it in the shape of a triangle or in a circle. As you like it best.
- When you cut the "lid", you must tilt the knife to cut at an angle.
- Remove the part we have cut and put it aside.
- Empty the buns a little, removing some crumbs.
- Fill with a teaspoon of raspberry jam at the base.
- Pipe the almond filling inside the seed until it reaches the surface.
- Decorate with whipped cream.
- Place the lid that we have cut off, sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate with a dried rose.
- Repeat the same process with the rest of Princess Semla.
- To serve it, the ideal is to place a Princess Semla in a bowl or a deep plate. Pour warm milk into the base and enjoy.
- Respect all the steps, rests and rising time to obtain a good result as much in flavor as in texture and sponginess.
- I recommend you to use a good quality butter because this will affect the final taste of the dough.
- They last in perfect condition for 4 days stored in a zip-type bag at room temperature (if it's not too hot). From here, they will begin to lose tenderness.
- If we want to preserve the buns for several days/weeks (without marzipan or filling) while maintaining the same freshness as the day we baked them, we will do the following. Once they have cooled completely, store them in zip-type freezer bags of 2 in 2 (or more if you wish) and freeze. When we want to consume them, remove them from the freezer the night before and leave them at room temperature. The next morning they will be as freshly baked, very tender.
- If it is a time of the year when it is very hot, in 2-3 hours they will be thawed and ready to eat.
- The green marzipan, this time, I made it homemade. It's very rich in flavor and with a perfect texture. But, if you prefer, you can buy it done.
- If you want the cream to be thicker, you can add mascarpone. That way you will get a much firmer consistency. In this post you can see how to do it.
- They can be kept refrigerated, once they are assembled, for 2 days.
I know that this weekend is special and there are many spectacular recipes that you can prepare, but if you really want to surprise someone, don't forget to try this PrincessSemla. It's not just it looks that captivate you, at least me. Its taste, its fluffiness, the mix of textures... It's formidable!
I recognize that the recipe for the bun may not be the classic one since it is a recipe I have developed to make them. I was looking for a very tender, soft, aromatic bun. In fact, in my house they eat them as they come out of the oven, hahaha. It has passed the test with flying colours.
One thing I must tell you, and that is that you must like marzipan. Since it's part of the filling and the outer covering... There's nothing else here. But if you like it, you'll enjoy it immensely!
I wish you a wonderful weekend and a happy Valentine's Day!