Friday, March 2, 2012

Semlor for Mardi Gras

Although I grew up in the Scandanavian neighborhood of Seattle, where my family made regular stops at the Scandanavian bakery for holiday treats throughout the year, I'd never heard of semlor until a story on NPR just before Mardi Gras. (Perhaps I had seen them in the bakery cases, but never realized their name or that they are seasonal.) As soon as I heard they are a yeast-risen cardamom bun, I knew I wanted to try making them, as yulekaka, a cardamom bread with dried fruit and raisens is one of my favorite Christmas treats.

The NPR story available here contains great background and overview, along with the recipe I ended up trying. But before I plunged into the flour, I did a little more research, and found this recipe useful for reference as well. I found it interesting, and not entirely explained, that Wikipedia also references these through a spelling of semla.

The only thing I did differently from the recipes was I did not scoop out the insides of the roll... I cut a divot out of the top and spooned in some filling, then replaced the top. I used the NPR suggestion of ground almonds rather than marzipan. By not scraping out some of the center, there was no well for the cream filling to rest, and so it was a little messy to eat, but I liked the texture of the filling (without the added bread crumbs) and they were so puffy and pretty with their tummys of bulging cream...

I ended up only having enough colored sugar to decorate a dozen rolls, so those were all I fillled; the rest I put in the freezer uncut/unfilled, and will probably ice them with a bit of glaze, and maybe dot with some sliced or chopped almonds before serving. I love the warm sweetness of cardmom and these will be a wonderful treat to pull out on short notice. The extra whipped cream-almond filling was excellent on cookies and just by the spoonful out of the bowl. Somehow the almonds stablized the whipped cream so that it held it's texture without separating for over a week in the fridge.

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