Semla ~ Swedish Almond Cream Pastry Buns

 Semla ~ a Swedish tradition

During the past Christmas season, J & I did some ethnic cooking/eating.  J was studying holiday traditions from various countries & cultures, so I made recipes from those places.  I decided to continue that cooking/eating theme for Shrove Tuesday / Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras / and now for Easter.  This time I looked to my fathers side of the family for some cooking inspiration.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea

On my fathers side of the family, we come from Scandinavian stock ~ my great-grandparents came from Sweden & Norway.  I decided on ~ Easter in Sweden ~ I searched the web & found out about this lovely Swedish bun/pastry called Semla, it's served throughout Sweden this time of year.  It's enjoyed from just before Lent & right through until Easter.  It's a wheat bun, scented with cardamom, filled with almond paste, custard & whipped cream ~ I decided right then & there that I would have to try making it.  Here is the first Semla recipe that caught my eye.  The post has lots of interesting info on this Swedish Lent / Easter-time specialty, past & present. 

The hollowed out inside of the bun is filled with almond paste, custard, crumbled bread, cardamom & topped with whipped cream

I kept on looking for more Semla recipes & after looking at a lot of online recipes, I came to the conclusion that I would definitely have to tweak a basic store bought, wheat bun Semla recipe.  I'm not really a baker & I wanted something NOW, not something I would have to go to the store for, buy a bunch of stuff for, or to stress over.  I wanted to make something that had similar flavors that would allow all of us the chance to enjoy a little bit of Swedish 'Lent / Easter celebration' food.  I was in luck ~ I had a can of whipped cream, tub of Cool Whip & a pop'n'fresh can of wheat pizza dough in the fridge and a jar of almond butter, powdered sugar, vanilla/tapioca pudding cups, almond extract & cardamom in the pantry.  Alright, I was ready to create my Semla!

Semla Petit Four
Since I've never had an actual Semla, I'm not sure how mine compares to the real deal, but I can tell you this batch I made turned out FANTASTIC!!  I will make these again & again.  I love the almond flavor & the combination of all the ingredients is sooo good!  The boys couldn't get enough of these tasty treats & neither could I ~ they lasted all of about 10 minutes.  I even made some pretty, little Semla petit fours out of some of the leftovers.  I just layered a little sliced bun with the almond paste, pudding, whipped cream & sprinkled with some cardamom.  Too cute & delish!! 

So, if you are not a stickler for having to follow traditional recipes to the letter & you want to try a Swedish Lent / Easter inspired pasty bun, give my adapted Semla recipe a try.  I'm sure you will love it as much as we do.

Quick & Easy Swedish Semla
makes 6 buns

Semla 'Buns'
1 can       refrigerated pizza dough, cut/divided into 6 pieces (buns) ~
                bake at 350 degrees until 'buns' are done & golden, cool
                before cutting/filling

Easy 'Almond Paste'
2 tbsp       almond butter
8 tbsp       powdered sugar
1/4 tsp      almond extract (or to taste)
~                pinch of cardamom

Quick 'Custard'
2              vanilla/tapioca pudding cups
~              powdered cardamom
~              can of whipped cream or tub of cool whip (regular/lowfat/fat free)


1)   make easy almond paste by mixing almond butter, powdered sugar,
       almond extract & a pinch of cardamom ~ together until smooth

2)   cut out a triangle 'lid' from each cooled bun & hollow out as much of the
       inside of the bun as you can.  Crumble the pulled out bread in a bowl &
       mix with one heaping tbsp almond paste mixture & one heaping tbsp
       pudding ~ blend all well  (add a little milk or whipped cream it too dry)

3)   fill the hollowed out bun with the almond/pudding mix, then top
       generously with whipped cream/cool whip & sprinkle with a little

4)    replace the bun lid, resting it gently on top of the whipped cream &
       sprinkle filled bun with a little powdered sugar

5)    repeat process with remaining buns

6)    if using canned whipped cream ~ enjoy immediately
        if using Cool Whip ~ store in fridge until ready to eat ~ use within one day  

**  If you wanted to make this even easier, just use store bought, unsplit buns or rolls ~ either from the bakery self-serve case or maybe even using some Kings Hawaiian Rolls ~ Ooo, I'll have to try that myself next time :)

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