Semlor: Swedish Lenten Buns

I started seeing these all over social media the past couple of weeks.  How had I never heard of them!?  Once I discovered their Swedish origin I knew I had to bake up a batch.  The Swedes know their pastry, you guys.  They don’t mess around.



These semlor, singular semla, are eaten on or before Shrove Tuesday/ Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  I kind of like food history, but you may not so I won’t go into it further.  You can read more than you want to know about it here!



When my mom took my sisters and me to Sweden in the summer of 2007 we kept seeing this book.  They had a version in English and one of my sisters bought it for me for my birthday.  I used it a few years back to make these kanelbullar, cinnamon rolls.  Any other bloggers out there look back on an old post and kind of want to smack themselves in the head?  My blogging has changed quite a bit in 6 years!  Back to the book.  I hadn’t made anything from it since.  The recipes are in metric, but not all measured in grams.  There are deciliters in the recipes and I found that harder to convert to US measurements for the dry ingredients.

Since the conversions were a little difficult (1 dl= 0.44 cups) I had to adjust things and since baking is a science I was a little worried about the outcome.  Thankfully everything turned out well and these beauties are the proof.

The buns baked up nicely with a terrific golden brown color.  My only complaint is that the cardamom wasn’t present enough.  The recipe I used didn’t have any in it so I added 1/2 a teaspoon, not wanting to add too much.  Next time I will use a full teaspoon.  And I will buy fresher cardamom.  I hate to admit this, but I think I’ve had it way longer than the suggested 6 months and it may not be as potent as it should be.


After baking the buns you slice the tops off, scoop out some of the filling and crumble that up with grated almond paste.  That goes back inside the buns.

On top of all that goes some freshly whipped sweetened cream and then the “hat” , which is sometimes cut into a triangle, goes back on top and everything gets doused in powdered sugar.

And because I’m on a kick (or maybe I’m developing a problem) with this right now, here’s a visual for you!



Adapted from Very Swedish



  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 packets rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (1 for the dough and 1 for brushing)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 cups of flour plus more for the counter


  • 1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste, grated or crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • powdered sugar for dusting



  1. Heat butter and milk over low heat until butter is melted and mixture is warm, about 100°F.
  2. Combine the flour, soda, powder and cardamom and set aside.
  3. Put the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment.  Mix in the milk-butter mixture.  Mix in the salt, sugar and egg.
  4. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix just until combined, then add in the rest of the flour.  Mix on medium for about 5 minutes.
  5. Dump out onto a floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth ball.  Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for about an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Knead dough again on a floured surface.  Divide into 12-15 pieces, trying to make them as equally sized as possible.  Arrange them on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment.  Cover with clean towels and let rise for about 30 minutes.
  7. Brush with beaten egg and bake for about 10 minutes per batch until golden.  Let cool on a wire rack.


  1. Place cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.  Add in the sugar and the extracts.  Continue beating until peaks hold but before cream gets clumpy.
  2. Cut the tops off of each bun, pull out some of the filling and save it in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs with the almond paste and a little cream to create a nice paste.
  4. Stuff each bun with some of the filling, pipe some cream on top, place the top back on and sift powdered sugar over the buns.  Serve.  If not serving immediately, do not dust with powdered sugar.