Semlor – Lent buns

While Britain gets celebrates Shrove Tuesday with pancakes, Swedes turn to cardamom scented buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Originally they were only eaten on Shrove Tuesday, but they now tend to be sold in bakeries from just after Christmas until the beginning of Lent.

Semlor - Lent buns

With part of the family away for Shrove Tuesday this year we waited until the weekend to have our Semlor, as they are called in Swedish. The buns should be light and fluffy, and there is some baking powder included in this dough to help it rise, but I still struggle to get them as light and fluffy as the ones you can buy in bakeries. I blame the cardamon in this case – I’ve never been able to find ready ground cardamon in the supermarkets in the UK, but instead go for cardamon pods and crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar. Unfortunately the freshness of the cardamon seems to have a negative effect on the doughs ability to rise and the buns end up a bit denser than I would like. The overall result is still delicious though!

Selma cut on half

75 g butter
300 ml milk
0.5 tbsp cardamon pods – seeds finely crushed, or 1 tsp ground cardamon
75 ml sugar
a pinch of salt
7 g fast action yeast (1 sachet)
1 egg (for the dough)
900 ml flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 egg to glaze the buns with

Filling for about 10 buns
150 g almonds, whole blanched
150 g sugar
2-3 tbsp water
2-3 tbsp milk
300 ml whipping or double cream
icing/powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the crushed/ground cardamon, sugar, salt and milk, and heat until lukewarm.
  2. Combine most of the flour, yeast and baking powder in a large bowl, then pour in the milk mixture and the egg and work into a smooth dough, adding the remaining flour as needed. Leave to rise, covered, for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size .
  3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, divide into smaller pieces and shape into round buns. I made mine quite small, about 50g each which gave me about 20 buns.
  4. Place the buns on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave to rise, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  5. Brush the buns with the remaining, lightly whisked, egg, this is optional though – I forgot to this time, then bake in a preheated oven for 225°C for about 8 minutes – or longer if making larger buns, until golden brown. Leave to cool on a rack.
  6. To make the filling, grind the blanched almonds in a food processor, mix in the sugar and add the water a little at the time until the paste is firm and smooth.
  7. Whip the cream.
  8. Cut a lid of the buns, scoop out some of the inside to make a hole inside the bun and mix with almond paste and a little milk until the paste is loose.
    Fill the buns with the almond/bun paste, top with whipped cream, put the lid back on top and dust with icing/powdered sugar.
  9. The buns freeze well if not using all at once.

Empty plate


Cardamom and lemon cookies

When I was little, I always thought biscuits were pretty boring. They never looked that exciting {apart from possibly my dads chocolate chip ‘dollop’ cookies – need to remember to write a post about them some other time}. I was more into cakes and buns, and probably still is. I use the term biscuits here, as in the UK definition of the word {and not the US bread roll type bake} as the bakes I’m thinking brings to mind shortbread and other brown {golden} baked goods, which at best would be decorated with a scattering of sugar or, more often, chopped nuts or flaked almonds – none of which I was very keen of when little.

I bought a baking book quite a while ago called the Celebrity Bake Book, after having seen it advertised on the Food Network UK. The book aims to raise money for the Ben Kinsella Trust, to raise awareness about knife crime. I have been meaning to bake something from the book a while now, and when flicking through it again I found a recipe for stamped Cardamom and Lemon cookies by the Hairy Bikers, that I discovered also features on the BBC Food website as it was included in their Bakeation tv series.
I got a couple of cookie stampers for Christmas which I hadn’t used yet, so I figured I’d use this recipe to try them out. I must admit I didn’t have high expectations of the biscuits, but figured they would be better than just plain {read ‘tasteless’} ones.

Cardamom lemon stamped cookies

I normally don’t gush like this over recipes in my posts, but there is always a first time for everything!
These cookies are absolutely amazing!!!! They are melt-in-the-mouth tender, have a delicate flavour and are mega cute when stamped!
I made the dough one day but ended up never having time to bake them that day, so I put it in the fridge for a few days until I had more time. This might have lessened the lemon flavour slightly, but they still tasted fantastic! The whole family loved them, as did a few friends who tried them, and I pretty much ended up having to fight hubby for the last one!  

Cardamom lemon stamped cookies up close

I’m now totally hooked on cardamon, I usually only use it in cinnamon buns, but I’m now going to dig out some recipes I have pulled out of magazines but never got around to trying. Watch this space!

Baked cardamom lemon stamped cookies

TIP: If you don’t have a cookie stamp, just flatten the cookies slightly before baking them, and use something else as a stamp, a fork for a simple striped pattern or one of the kids toys for example – be creative!

Eat Me cookie stamp

Cardamom and lemon stamped cookies

225g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 lemon, zest only
250g plain flour
100g ground almonds
3 tsp ground cardamom or 1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar

1) Preheat the oven to 190C. Line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
2) Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until pale and fluffy.
3) Beat in the flour, almonds and cardamom until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough.
4) Roll the dough into a thick roll and chill for at least 30 mins
5) Cut the roll into 1 cm thick slices and stamp with a cookie stamper, if using.
6) Bake for 12–14 minutes, until the cookies are pale golden brown.
7) Leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. They will crisp up as they cool. Store the cookies in an airtight tin and eat within 7 days.

Homemade cookie stamp