Thursday, 23 August 2012

Vegan Lingonberry and Almond Cream Buns (Swedish Semla)

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with a good friend who I hadn't seen for years! Amy and I constantly miss each other because we are both travel fanatics, so it seems that one of us is always overseas. Luckily we managed to find a time to finally have lunch together, and not surprisingly, we talked most of the time about travel.

Amy, conveniently, had spent six months studying in Sweden - so I was able to pick her brain a bit about Swedish food - which was well timed because August is Swedish food month on Gormandize. It has thus far been a delicious exploration of dishes - see the links at the bottom of this post for other recipes. Most of my past recipes have focused on the savoury side of Swedish cuisine. However, not including some amazing desserts would be doing Sweden an injustice, as Amy reports that the Swedes "have an insane sweet tooth".

During our catchup Amy raved about Semla. Cream buns filled with almond paste which are eaten in Sweden only during certain times of the year. Reportedly (by wikipedia - so likely it's false) King Adolf Frederick of Sweden died in 1771 of indigestion after consuming a feast which included fourteen servings of semla!

This recipe is dedicated to Amy then, and to all Swedes! I hope I did it justice - however, I have made some slight changes from the traditional. Firstly, I don't actually like almond paste - so there was no way I was going to put it in my buns, so I did something very un-traditional and opted for chopped almonds instead. Another fabulous friend of mine who lives in Sweden told me that sometimes Semla can be filled with lingonberry jam. You might not find it that easy to find, though. I am told that the best substitute is cranberry sauce, as it is tart and traditionally used in savoury dishes (as is lingonberry jam). So I went with Almond and Lingonberry Semla filled with vegan whipped coconut cream.

For a more authentic dish, fill with marzipan. 

(Adapted from The Vegan Swedes)
75g Nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
250ml almond milk
1 tbsp dried yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 3/4 cups plain white flour
1/4 cup whole almonds
8 tsp lingonberry jam (can substitute cranberry sauce)
1 can coconut cream, chilled in the fridge overnight (minimum- a few days is optimum)
1 tablespoons soft confectioners sugar

To Make
1. Melt the nuttelex in a small saucepan and add the almond milk. Heat until just warm and then remove from the heat. Add the yeast and set aside for a few moments.
2. Add the salt, sugar, cardamom and mix though.
3. Add most of the flour and mix through. Add enough of the flour that the dough clings together and doesn't stick to the bowl (don't add too much).
4. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 45 minutes in a warm spot with no draught (not sure where this spot is or how to make it happen - read this post to get it right every time).
5. After 45 minutes it should have doubled in size (if not leave a little longer). Turn out onto a flour bench and gently knead it (add more flour if it is still sticking to your fingers).
6. Divide into 8 even round buns. Place on trays covered with baking paper, with plenty of space in between for them to rise again.
7. Cover over with a cloth and leave again in your nice warm spot for another 45 minutes, they should rise again to almost double their size.
8. Bake in an oven at 220 degrees C for 5 minutes, turning them halfway to ensure even cooking.
9. Remove and cool completely.
10. While they are cooling you can whip the cream -

Coconut Cream Topping:
1. When you open the tin you will notice that the top is a very solid thick cream. Scoop out all of the solid thick cream on top (you can reserve the rest of it to use in another meal – like a curry).
2. Put the thick cream into a bowl and mix well using a hand held electric mixer. Move the beaters up and down to try and get as much air into the cream as possible. Add the sugar and beat until it pretty much resembles thick cream.

11. Once the buns are completely cool, cut the tops off and scoop out the middle crumbs.
12. Chop up the almonds and mix them with some of the crumbs that you scooped out the middle.
13. Place a teaspoon of lingonberry jam in the cavity of each bun. Top this with as much of the almond and crumbs mix that you can cram on top.
14. Place big dollops of whipped cream on the top and place the top of the bun back on. Dust it with icing sugar and eat with joy!

Makes 8 Semla, best eaten on the day you make them.

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