Semla (Shrove Tuesday) wraps
Semla wraps may be ”Oh, so last year” and still ”Oh, so good!”
The semla takes its name from semolina, the finest wheat flour, and is (normally) a bun, flavored with cardamom and filled with whipped cream and almond paste. You’re hooked already, aren’t you?
Another name for this cream-filled treat is “Shrove Tuesday Bun” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? Way back when, semlas were only eaten today – the final day before fasting during Lent. But the semla was too irresistible and the Swedes, not known for being overly religious, started bending the strict rules of fasting and gradually began eating semlas every Tuesday during Lent. And once the bun is rolling it’s hard to stop it – today people can hardly wait until February 1st before semla cravings take over.
Speaking of which, back when I was a Swedish newbie, I once mistakenly suggested, in July, that we go to a cafe to have a semla (see the impression they made on me?) My Swedish friends thought I was making a bad joke and laughed at me, but quickly realized I was serious, and very very silly, and informed me kindly that semlas were not “in season”.
Something that has been around so long, and been eaten by so many, so many times, needs to be re-invented now and then, and each year here in Sweden sees more variety and twists on the traditional wheat bun theme. In Denmark and Iceland they might have jam, chocolate or raisins in them. Adventurous bakeries may play with the filling, adding saffron or make the bun more éclair-like, new variations pop up all the time.
Last year was the year of the semla wrap and I haven’t yet gotten over it. A not-so-perfect traditional semla can be a little dry, but a thin cardamom flavored wrap is almost moist and soft and fun to eat. I didn’t say easy, semlas are notoriously tricky to eat the powdered sugar and whipped cream is soon everywhere. Swedes are not overly eager to eat with their hands – things like pizza and even hamburgers are often approached with knife and fork in hand. The verdict is out when it comes to semlas. Some people might lift off the “lid” and go for the cream right away, some use a spoon and the brave few might pick up the whole thing and try to take a bite.
But with a semla wrap, the decision is kind of made for you – of course you have to use your hands.
So what’s in this planticized version? Cream, wheat, cardamom, sugar, more cream, vanilla, and did I mention cream? I tried something new this year, and used coconut cooking cream in the wraps themselves. It imparts just a little flavor which is nicely complimented by the cardamom. For the fillings I used soy whipped cream, as this is pretty much the only one that really whips up nicely. And oh, you do need to whip. If you have a handheld mixer, you’re going to want to use it here. Soy cream – whip it, into shape, shape it up, whip it, whip it good!
So, that’s a wrap! A planticized semla wrap that is 🙂
- 1 oz (28 g) - vegan margarine
- 1 cup (1.2 dl) - coconut cream (not coconut milk)
- ¼ tsp (ca 1 ml) - freshly ground cardamom seeds (You can increase the amount of cardamom powder in the next step instead.)
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) - ground cardamom powder
- ½ oz (14 grams) - fresh yeast (for sweet doughs)
- 2 heaping Tbsp (ca 35 ml) - cocunut sugar
- 1¼ cups (3 dl) - all purpose flour Almond paste filling
- 5½ oz (155 g) almond paste
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) - soy whipping cream
- ¼ tsp (1 ml) - vanilla powder (or 1 tsp liquid vanilla extract) Vanilla whipped cream filling
- 1¼ cups (3 dl) - soy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) powdered/confectioner's sugar
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) - vanilla powder (or 2 tsp liquid vanilla extract)
- In a microwave, melt the butter in a large bowl. Add the coconut cream, freshly ground and powdered cardamom. Warm again on low until liquid is "hand hot" (98 F /37 C).
- Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm liquid and mix until it all dissolves. Add the remaining wraps ingredients and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. Cover the dough and let rise to double the size - approx. 30 minutes.
- When the dough has risen, split it into 6 equal pieces, roll them into balls, cover them with a tea towel and let them rise again for another 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, put all the almond paste filling ingredients in a small food processor (or use a mixing wand) and mix until you have a smooth paste.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) Take the dough balls, one at a time, and on a floured surface, roll them into flat circles about 8 in (20 cm) wide. Place them on baking paper lined oven trays and bake them in the oven for roughly 4 minutes (I use two trays, put them in the center of the oven and switch them after 2 minutes) You do NOT want the dough to brown or get color. They need to be just cooked and still soft or they will break when you try to fold them later. So keep your eye on them! Remove from oven and let cool under a towel.
- Mix the whipped cream filling ingredients and use a hand mixer to whip, whip and whip some more! Soy cream takes a bit more whipping than traditional whipping cream does.
- Take each wrap, spread some almond paste filling in the middle, spoon on some whipped cream, wrap and enjoy!