Shrove Tuesday, the day many of us know as Pancake day. However, many of you may not be aware of the delicious delectable that is the Semla.
A Swedish sweet bread filled with a marzipan paste and cream, but as light and fluffy as a pillow, which is as difficult as anything to perfect.
A few years ago I tried and got pretty close to the likes of the Swedish bakerys hailed versions. Again this year I was up for the challenge.
After five attempts within a week, I think I’ve got it down. So to save the blood, sweat and tears on your part I’ve got it all here for you.
To make 12:
75 g(5 tbsp)butter
300 ml(1¼ cups)milk
10 g(3¼ tsp)”instant” fast action dried yeast or 50g fresh yeast
½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground or cracked cardamon
500 g(3½ cups) bread flour
1 egg (beaten)
For the filling:
200 g (7 oz) mandalmassa (almond paste) or marzipan
Icing sugar for dusting
First melt the butter in a saucepan, then add milk and bring to body temperature (37 degrees Celsius).
To make sure your dried yeast is alive and well it can be good to test an additional 10g in some warm water with sugar dissolved in it to see if it bubbles up (I put that in another bowl of hot water to keep the temperature up).
Pour the butter and milk mix into your mixing bowl and dissolve your yeast in it (Do not use a metal mixing bowl, yeast does not like metal).
Then mix in all your dry ingredients, to form a dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Some recipes told me to prove the dough here, but I found it a waste of time.
Knead the dough either by hand or the paddle attachment on a mixer. This is what gives the final product it’s light fluffy texture! If you are kneading by hand will take 20 minutes and remember to dust the surface with flour, or it will get all sorts of messy. Kneading by machine takes approximately 6-10 minutes (It’s a very kneady dough, it just kneads to be loved).
You know you’ve got the right consistency when the dough is elastic enough to stretch to see light through, without breaking. Think, chiffon top and you’ve got it!
Roll into a long tubular shape and cut into 12 pieces. Roll these into balls and place on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray to rise under a clean cloth, for 40 mins.
Pre-heat your oven to 225 degrees Celsius.
Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown on top.
Leave to cool for 5-10minutes then slather in mandalmassa and cream. Some Swedes remove some of the bready centre and mix it with the mandalmassa to get a less intense almond taste.
Or if you’d prefer the food without the hassle, why not pop into Bageriet, or let me know about any other Swedish cafes around London, I need to go and discover some more!