5/52: Pancake tuesday.


Now I know pancakes aren’t loaves, and the only relationship they have is a floury one, but as I’ve developed an addiction for another Shrove Tuesday tradition, we decided we’d have two Northern European Lenten staples together in the true spirit of ‘Fat Tuesday‘. I love the way that the penitential Britons and Gaels call their pre-Lenten blow-out after a guilt-ridden infatuation with sinning, confession and contrition, and everyone else gets to do Mardi Gras, but that’s just us.

Ruby insisted on making the pancake mix, so I concentrated on the Semla cakes. This batch turned out even better than the last, so I don’t think we’ll be restricting ourselves too much in the coming 40 days…..Tuesday’s not the only thing that’s going to be fat in our house.

ruby pancake mix


4/52: Semlor


We’re falling a bit behind on our 52 project, not with baking as such, but recording it and posting it. It’s all quite challenging. So even though we’re halfway through February, we’re still only on loaf no. 4! Time to up our game.

Anyway, last week we decided we wanted something sweet, and as I’m obsessed with all things Scandinavian (must have some Viking blood in me somewhere) we pounced on the chance to make Semlor, little cardamon flavoured buns all the way from Sweden. Not strictly a loaf, I’ll grant you, but there’s yeast and rising involved so we think they qualify.

Semlor were originally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, at the start of Lent, as a last taste of luxury before the punishing 40 days of self-denial ahead. For us, they’re a little bit of Scandinavian indulgence on a cold February day.

Semlor pestleSemlor doughSemlor dough riseSemlor unbaked

Semlor (adapted from Donal Skehan’s recipe)

700g plain flour
140g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tsp freshly ground cardamon
350ml milk
14g dried yeast
150g butter, softened
1 large free range egg

Almond paste
250g skinless blanched almonds (we used 2 packets of chopped almonds)
225g caster sugar
A few tbs milk
Icing sugar to dust
750ml cream, whipped

Melt the butter in a pan and add the milk, heat until it’s lukewarm. Mix in the yeast (we added the yeast to the dried ingredients instead).

Bash the cardamon seeds in a pestle and mortar until finely grinded. Add to the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well and pour in the butter/milk mix along with the egg. Bring together as a dough, tip out onto a floured surface and knead well for 5 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with cling-film or a cloth and leave to prove for about 45 mins or until it has doubled in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 190c. Knock back the dough and divide into 18 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper (we forgot to do this and all our little buns stuck). Leave to rise again for 20 minutes. Brush with a little beaten egg and bake for about 10 minutes. Leave them to cool on a wire rack while you make the almond paste.

Blitz the almonds and caster sugar in a food processor. Add a few drops of milk to make a thick paste. Chill this in the fridge until solid.

Bring the buns together by cutting out a triangular piece from the top. Scoop out a little of the crumb and mix it with the grated or crumbled almond paste and some milk. Fill the insides of each bun with the paste and top with whipped cream. Put their little hats back on and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Semlor baked

Ruby wasn’t keen on the almond paste and insisted on filling hers with raspberry jam instead. I subsequently found out that this is how they eat them in Finland (maybe there is a Viking gene in there after all). Either way, they’re meltingly delicious.

Oh and she discovered a great way to keep my phone clean too! And it’s still usable…..

semlor flag

Ruby says: “delicious, even with raspberry jam”.