A recipe for Semlor (Swedish Cream Buns)! These cardamom-scented buns are filled with an almond paste and whipped cream.
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Semlor are Swedish Cream Buns or Lenten Buns traditionally made on Shrove Tuesday (Fettisdagen), but they are now often found in bakeries from the beginning of the year to Easter. There are versions throughout Northern Europe.
The pastries have a light cardamom bun as the base. They are baked until golden, lightly hollowed out, then filled with an almond mixture and topped with a generous piping of whipped cream.
The Semlor are best shortly after assembling with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. They are especially delicious paired with coffee.
A Few Tips
When adding the yeast to the milk, make sure the milk isn’t too hot or it will damage the yeast. The temperature should be about 105˚F (40˚C)- just warm enough to activate the yeast.
The dough should be on the softer side. Knead until smooth and elastic and add just enough flour to create a smooth and workable dough. Too much flour or overworking will cause the rolls to become dense.
If the dough is too crumbly and just won’t come together, add some more milk a splash at a time.
After preparing the dough, cover and rise at room temperature until doubled. This will take about an hour, but may be closer to 2 in cooler kitchens.
When removing the interior of the bread, do not take out the entire center. Leave about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeter) area around the sides and bottom.
Want even more almond flavor? Add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract to the almond paste filling.
Beat the cream just until stiff enough to hold its shape when piped. Too much and the texture will turn gritty.
Use a large piping bag and star tip to pipe the whipped cream over each Semla.
I cut the tops of the buns simply into circles, but they can be further decorated into triangles for a more elegant look.
These Semlor are best the day they are made, especially immediately after piping with the whipped cream. The unfilled buns can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a day or two. The filled buns can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Looking for more Fettisdagen/Mardi Gras/Karneval recipes?
- Spritzkuchen (German Crullers)
- Chiacchiere di Carnevale (Italian Carnival Fried Pastries)
- Slow Cooker Creole Chicken and Sausage
This recipe was originally posted in February 2013 and updated in January 2023.
Semlor (Swedish Cream Buns) Recipe
Adapted from Fika
Semlor (Swedish Cream Buns)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) lukewarm milk 105-115˚F (40-46˚C)
- 3 1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour divided
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) milk
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) milk
- Leftover bread crumbs
- 7 ounces (200 grams) almond paste grated
- 2 cups (470 milliliters) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) powdered sugar
- Powdered Sugar for topping
To make the buns:
- In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm milk and stir briefly to combine. Let sit until frothy, 5-10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt.
- Add the frothy yeast with milk, egg, and butter.
- Mix until a dough comes together.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease.
- Separate the risen dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Form each piece into a ball and arrange 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Cover with towel and let rise until puffed, about 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) milk.
- Brush the egg milk mixture evenly over the buns.
- Bake the buns in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
To assemble the Semlor:
- Once the buns have cooled, cut a 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeter) thick top from each bun and set aside.
- Scoop out the center of each bun, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeters) around the edges, and place into a medium bowl.
- Stir the 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) milk into the bread pieces in the bowl to soften. Add the almond paste.
- Knead together to make a smooth paste.
- Fill each hollowed bun with about 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of the prepared almond mixture.
- In a large bowl, beat together the cream and 2 tablespoons (15 grams) powdered sugar just until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer the whipped cream to a large piping bag with a star tip.
- Pipe the whipped cream over the filling on each of the buns.
- Place the top of each bun over the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Serve immediately.