Happy Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras!

Semlan (in Stockholm), fastlagsbulle in Skaane and fettisdagsbulle in other parts of the country ..  

  • A traditional semla by our favorite U.S based Swedish baker Anna Bringle of Swedish Dreamish in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Anna Bringle
  • Wherever you are, in Sweden or elsewhere, if you're among Swedes, semla will do just fine these days. And no Fat Tuesday without a semla.

  • The filling is what makes this homemade semla stand out.
  • This particular recipe by the 2010 Swedish Pastry Chef of the Year, Roy Fares, has been unanimously voted best ever (so far) by Nordstjernan. Fares has published three bestselling cookbooks with the most recent being "United States of Cakes.” The former model-turned-pastry chef of Lebanese origin has become well known in Sweden, and this particular recipe for the seasonal - currently omnipresent - semla, is from his guest appearance on the daily TV show Go’kväll (Good evening).

  • And, this is how our test kitchen's semla a la Roy Fares turned out.
  • Ingredients:
    Dough, step 1
    7 oz whole milk (2dl or 200 grams)
    1-3/4 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour (10 oz / 260 grams)
    25 g fresh yeast

  • Former model-turned-pastry chef Roy Fares
  • Dough, step 2
    1-1/4 cup (160 grams) whole wheat all-purpose flour
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon ground cardamom
    100 g butter (1 stick of butter is 113 grams), room temperature
    3 oz sugar (85 g)

  • Deluxe almond paste
    15 oz almond paste (500 grams) - we prefer the Danish Odense, available through Scandinavian stores
    1-1/2 oz ground almond or almond flour (50 grams)
    1-1/2 oz finely chopped almonds
    1 tablespoon ground cardamom (5 grams)
    2-1/2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (20 grams)
    3 oz confectioners sugar (90 grams)
    5 oz whole milk (1.5 dl / 150 grams)

  • Decoration
    34 oz heavy cream
    confectioners sugar

  • Instructions:
    - Dough, step 1
    Heat the milk to lukewarm (110-115°F). Dissolve the yeast with the milk, add flour and pour into mixer. Put mixer on half speed to mix the dough. Let rest for 15 minutes.
    - Dough, step 2
    Mix all the remaining ingredients with the rested step 1 dough in the mixer and mix on low speed for two minutes. Increase the speed and mix for 7 minutes until the dough is glossy and feels elastic.
    - Divide the dough into 14 equal pieces, weighing approximately 60 grams each. Roll the buns with your hand and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover the buns and let them sit and rise for 1.5 - 2 hours until they have doubled in size.
    - Bake them in the oven (410°F) for 8 - 10 minutes until they are golden.
    - Deluxe almond paste: Mix all the ingredients except the milk in a mixer. Add milk little by little (= lite i taget) and mix until you have a smooth paste on low speed.
    - When the buns have cooled, use scissors to cut out a triangle and lift the top off. Fill with the almond paste. The easiest way to fill the buns is by folding the paste into a bag and spritzing it into the buns.

  • Before serving
    - Whip the heavy cream. Use a plastic bag or a piping bag to spritz on the heavy cream. Add the top. Use a sieve to decorate with the powdered sugar. Enjoy!

  • PS. We understand many of you enjoy following the recipes we carry in Nordstjernan. For the future, and especially for baking, our test kitchen recommends you invest in a weight scale that measures both ounces and grams since gram weights are more exact and are often used by chefs. DS.

  • Ever wonder what it looks like when the pros make a semla? It's not that different, it's only faster and, looks easy ... Nordstjernan visited one of New York's favorite Swedish cafés for an inside view of the making of the traditional lenten bun - "fastlagsbullen" a.k.a. "semla" or "fettisdagsbulle." (Kärt barn har många namn...) Go to our video links to see the result: http://www.nordstjernan.com/video/