A Different Mardi Gras: How to Make Swedish Semlor

Semlor are the best part of Swedish winters; a combination of cardamom, almond paste and whipped cream. They’re traditionally served for Fat Tuesday – one last indulgence before Lent kicks off – but thankfully we live in modern times, which means you can get away with eating them a little longer. They just happen to be the perfect accompaniment to a freshly brewed French Press.

Here is a personal rendition of a classic recipe – not gluten free, or vegan, but ever so worth it. Semla time only comes once a year after all.

Classic Swedish Semlor


  • 100 grams butter (7 tablespoons)
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar (if you want a sweeter version, you can use up to a ½ cup)
  • 2 eggs (1 for baking, 1 for topping)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons powdered cardamom (I prefer to start with whole cardamom seeds and then grind them as you then get larger, crunchier bits of cardamom)


  • 2 cups blanched almonds + ¼ cup sugar blended in food processor
  • Inside of buns
  • ½ – 1 cup milk


  • Whipped cream
  • Powdered sugar

1. Melt butter in a saucepan and add the milk. Heat until the liquid is warm to the touch. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in a few tablespoons of the butter and milk and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl beat the egg and add in salt, sugar milk/butter mixture and yeast. Combine baking powder and flour and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and let rise for 30 minutes.

3. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Form into round balls and place on greased pan. Cover with tea towel and let rise until double the size.

4. Brush the buns with a beaten egg. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 450F. Let cool.

5. Cut a circular “lid” off of each bun and set aside. Scoop out inside of bun and mix in a bowl with almond paste. Add in enough milk to make a smooth mixture. Fill buns with mixture and top with whipping cream. Place lid on top of whipping cream and garnish with powdered sugar.

Serve with hot coffee of course.

Editor’s note: if you want a gluten-free and vegan version, try this recipe.

Comments 2

  1. Go Stuff Yourself with Semlor! | anna brones

    […] Here’s a little dirty secret for you: there’s a recipe for semlor in my book Fika, which is out on April 7 (yes, I have already started counting down). But if you can’t wait that long, and you really want to make some today, you can use this recipe. […]

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