This morning, I saw an recipe about an 18th century bread bun. The picture looked great, and I thought what a nice breakfast that would make along with a lovely cup of rich, dark coffee. Let's put away the "politically-correct", "gluten free", "healthy" breakfast, and talk about the Semla, or Selmor, Bun! Yumm!
Originally only eaten on Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Ash Wednesday, before Lent, the Semla bun is a Scandinavian delight, a Swedish bread that came served in a bowl of warm milk. Today they are found in Scandinavian bakeries shortly after Christmas until Easter.
The Semla is cardamom-spiced bread with an almond paste and cream filling. They have been eaten in Sweden ever since the 18th Century, and warning: King Aldolph Frederick died in 1771 after eating 14 of them! Of course, he had a rich dinner to start. Perhaps the Semla was the straw that broke the camel's back!
The bread takes about 2 hours to make. The ingredients are as follows, and make about 15-20 of them:
2 cups almond paste¾ cup plus ½ quart heavy cream 7 tablespoons butter 1 ½ cups milk 3 cups flour One 1.4-ounce package fresh yeast ½ cup sugar 1 egg, beaten 2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon ground cardamom 2 egg yolks 1 teaspoon water Powdered sugar, for dusting
Melt butter in a pan, add milk and heat until lukewarm. Mix cardamom, sugar, salt, yeast and most of flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the milk mixture and egg. Knead dough for five minutes till sticky. Cover and leave to rise 30–40 mins.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Make into balls. Place on trays lined with parchment paper; leave to rise for 30–40 mins.
Preheat oven to 400o. Bake buns in lower part of the oven for 20–25 mins till browned.
Once cool, slice off the top of each bun and set aside. Fork out a layer of crumbs and reserve them in a bowl. Grate the almond paste and combine with the crumbs and milk. Blend into a thick paste and fill each bun. Whip cream till stiff and place onto the almond paste. Put back bun tops and dust with icing sugar.