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  • Writer's picturerodica godlewski

a different kind of semlor

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

I am not sure how a semla is supposed to taste since I never had a proper Swedish one, however I can tell you this interpretation of the classic is simply divine. What more can one want than a fresh yeast bun filled with almond paste and topped with whip cream? if you ask me, nothing more. This recipe does however have a secret: no egg wash before baking as the semlor usually have (I find the egg wash doesn't let the dough rise as much, plus it looks messy because it bakes unevenly). The replacement is the delicious orange glaze.


for the buns:

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water

  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk slightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk

  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • pinch of salt

  • 3 1/2 cups white baking flour

for the almond paste:

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature

  • 2 1/2 almond flour

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom

for the orange syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, strained, no pulp

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

for the whip cream:

  • 2 cups whipping cream (I used Trader Joe's)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 envelopes of whip cream stabilizer (I used Dr. Oetker)

to decorate:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

serving suggestions: can be served topped with warm milk


  1. In the bread machine start by adding the water, vanilla sugar and yeast. Cover and let stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until yeast begins to bubble.

  2. In a separate bowl, mix the beaten egg and egg yolk, melted butter, and milk, and then add to the yeast mixture in the bread machine bowl.

  3. Top with the flour, sugar and salt and then turn on the bread machine on dough setting.

  4. Allow for the kneading cycle to complete (mine lasts an hour and a half). At this point the dough should be doubled in size. Punch the dough in the middle and allow to rest while still in the bread machine for another 10 minutes.

  5. Line a 17x11 inch cookies sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and form each of them into a ball. Place on the prepared cookie sheet (make sure to leave room between them, approximately 2 inches since they will expand during the second proof). Place the tray in a proofing bag and let rise in a warm spot for another 40 minutes.

  6. While the dough is resting, make the orange syrup. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, heat over medium heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for about 15 more minutes and then take the syrup from the heat and set aside.

  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and once heated place the buns in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until they turn golden brown.

  8. While the buns are baking prepare the almond paste. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the confectioner's sugar little at a time and beat until incorporated. In the end, add the almond flour and the cardamom and mix to incorporate. Cover, and refrigerate.

  9. Take the buns out of the oven and while still hot, brush with the orange syrup. Place on a cooling rack. When the buns reach room temperature, cut a diamond shape window at the top using a sharp knife. Set the cut top on a different piece of parchment paper. Take the almond paste out the fridge, and by the help of a piping bag fill the buns in the space you removed the diamond top from.

  10. After all the buns are filled with the almond paste, make the whip cream. Place the whipping cream in a bowl and by the help of a hand mixer beat for one minute. Add the whip cream stabilizer, and the sugar and beat until whip cream consistency.

  11. Place the whip cream in a piping bag fitted with the three star tip (I used Wilton, #2010) and pipe a good amount of whip cream on each bun.

  12. Top each semla with the diamond shape previously cut bun dough and dust with confectioner's sugar.

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