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Semlor, traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) in Scandinavia, they are now consumed from the start of the year until Easter. For those who are a fan of Hot Cross Buns, I would recommend swapping one for a Semla (singular name for Semlor). This my take on the traditional recipe. If you want to go the extra step further, try Hetvägg. This is where you serve a Semla in a bowl, swimming in warm milk.

Makes 12

Hands-on Time 1 hour

Proving Time +2 hours

Baking Time 12-15 minutes


300ml plus 5-7 tbsp Full-fat milk

500g Strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)

2 tsp Fast-action yeast

50g Caster sugar

1 tsp Fine sea salt

2 tsp Ground cardamom

70g Unsalted butter (softened)

1 Egg, medium (beaten)

Oil for greasing (I use olive oil. You may want to use flavourless e.g. sunflower or vegetable)

1 Egg yolk, medium

100g Marzipan

400ml Whipping cream

3-4 tbsp Icing sugar



Large bowl

Dough scraper


2 Baking sheets

Baking parchment

Mixing bowl

Pastry brush

Wire rack

Serrated knife





Piping bag and star shaped nozzle

Small sieve

Pour 300ml of milk into the saucepan and place over a medium heat until nearly boiling.

Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Add 500g of flour to the large bowl. Place the yeast on one side, and the sugar, salt, and cardamom on the other.

Add the butter and beaten egg.

Start to combine using one hand, slowly adding the milk with the other, until you have formed a dough and all dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approx. 10 minutes until smooth. Use a dough scraper occasionally to gather the dough together if you find it sticking.

Don't add more flour.

When the dough is soft and smooth, leave to rest on the worktop whilst you wash and lightly oil the large bowl.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave for at least 1 hour until it has doubled in size.

Cover both baking sheets with parchment.

Discard the clingfilm.

Tip the dough back out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces.

Take a piece of dough, lightly flour its bottom before turning flour-side up and placing on a clean area of worktop.

Lightly dust your hands with flour. Don't worry you won't need to perform any gymnastics.

Cup the dough, with the outside edge of your hands under the bottom edges of the dough. Keep your fingers slightly straightened.

Move one hand away from you, and bring the other towards. When you do this, you should turn the dough. Release and move your hands back to where they started.

Repeat this several times.

You should find each time you cup the dough, you're pulling the outside of the dough downwards. When you turn the dough, you're tucking excess dough underneath. As you haven't floured the bottom of the dough the stickiness of it will help ensure it is smooth and there are no joins. Whilst the floured top will ensure it doesn't stick to your hands.

When the dough has formed a smooth ball, place onto the baking parchment.

Repeat so you have 6 pieces of dough per sheet. Make sure they're spaced apart as much as possible if you don't want them to touch when baking.

Lightly oil two pieces of clingfilm and cover the dough.

Leave to prove for at least an hour until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 210°C/190°C(Fan)/410°F/Gas mark 7.

Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of milk in the mixing bowl.

Remove the clingfilm and brush both batches of buns with the egg wash.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Place one tray on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until a deep golden colour.

Remove and transfer the buns to the wire rack.

Repeat with the second batch, leaving the buns to cool completely before starting on the filling.

You'll need to slice the tops of the buns off. It's best to cut across using a serrated knife, about 1/3 down.

Once you've removed the top, you then need to cut out the inside core of the bun. Be sure you don't slice through the bottom of the bun. Use your hands to remove some more of the insides you can't cut out with the knife.

Place all of the cuttings from the middle of the bun into a clean mixing bowl.

Repeat this with all of the other buns.

Crumble the marzipan into small pieces over the bun trimmings.

Add 3 tbsp of milk and start mashing together with a fork. Continue until you have a thick porridge-like paste.

You may need to add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.

Spoon the filling into the hollowed out buns.

Pour the whipping cream into the large bowl from earlier and add 2 tbsp of icing sugar.

Whisk until thick and fairly stiff.

Be careful not to over-whip, you're not making butter!

Spoon into the prepared piping bag using a spatula.

Pipe the cream from the middle, going outwards, in a circular motion. Be generous with the size of the cream swirls.

If you want, you can trim the tops of the buns into squares or triangles before placing them on top of the cream, otherwise you can pop them back on as they are.

Using the sieve, dust the buns with the remaining icing sugar.


If you fancy a twist on the classic recipe, try:

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