Cooking Gluten-Free with Anna

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A heavenly cream filled bun

These Swedish almond paste and whipped cream filled cardamon buns are traditionally served during Fat Tuesday. Nowadays, Swedes are happily inhaling them as often as they can be found. Semla is a cardamon-spiced bread, which has its top cut off and insides scooped out, then filled with an almond paste, and topped with whipped cream. The top is dusted with some confectioners' sugar.

Sounds good? They are! I love that the bun is not overly sweet, nor is it too big (this way I can have two). My mom served them the old fashioned way, called hetvägg, in a bowl of warm milk. Sounds weird? Yes, perhaps. But I loved it as a kid. The smooth almond filling and whipped cream blended well with the sweet milk, which softened the bread. Now I prefer them straight up, with a strong cup of coffee.

Traditionally, they were served before Lent. I would say that the true meaning of Fat Tuesday is lost on most Swedes, me included. However, eating a Semla is a religious experience in itself. Now everyday can be Tuesday!


Makes 24 buns


6 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp psyllium husks ( see below, on resources)
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp for the yeast liquid
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp kosher salt
2tsp guar gum
1 tsp gelatin, unflavored
2 large eggs, whisked
3 tsp ground cardamon
1 1/2 cups corn starch
1 cup white rice flour, plus 1/3 cup for rolling the dough
1 cup tapioca starch

Egg Wash:
1 large egg, whisked
1 tbsp water

7 oz GF almond paste
1 -2 tbsp milk, enough to blend with almond paste

Whipped Cream:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp confectioners' sugar


Melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the milk to the melted butter and heat until about 110-115 degrees F. Pour the heated liquid into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the yeast, psyllium husks, 1 tsp sugar and whisk together until yeast has dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof and activate the yeast. The liquid should expand.

Pour the yeast liquid into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar, honey, salt, guar gum, gelatin, the whisked eggs, cardamom, and gluten-free flours to the mixer. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl occasionally. The dough will be sticky, do not worry, this is normal.

Remove the mixing bowl. Drape a clean kitchen towel, or plastic wrap, over the bowl. Place the mixing bowl in a warm part of the kitchen, and let the dough rise for 75 minutes.

Shape the dough into 3" balls by scooping the dough out with a large spoon. Using wet hands, gently press into shape. You might need to wet your hands in between each roll, to prevent the dough from sticking and to create a smooth surface. But take care not to make the dough soggy.

Place the rolls onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Allow the rolls to rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, for 40 minutes.

During the last 20 minutes of the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove covers from the baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, brush each roll with the egg wash.

Bake near center of the oven for about 15-18 minutes, or until golden.

Transfer the rolls to a wire rack, cover with the kitchen towels, and let cool to room temperature. The buns are also delicious on their own, sliced and spread with some butter.

Once cool, cut a slice off the top of the bun. Scoop out the center of the bun.

Blend the almond paste with the milk until smooth. Add additional milk if needed until the filling is nearly as soft as pudding.

Whip cream with the confectioners' sugar to soft peaks. Fill each bun with a spoonful of the almond mixture. Pipe whipped cream on top of the filling to about 1/2 inch over the top of the bun. Replace the top onto the bun, and dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Dig in!

*Psyllium husks are the same as Metamusil, which is gluten-free. Get the unflavored variety. This adds fiber, texture and elasticity to the dough.


  1. Awesome blog and recipes. You have made gluten free look like the 'real stuff' and that your Swedish all the better since my Grandpa came from Sweden and you have St. Lucia bread. Something my daughter has missed since she can no longer have gluten.

  2. Hi Betty,

    Thanks! That's great that you found the reipe for St.Lucia buns for your daughter. It was something I really missed when I had to go gluten-free. Sounds like you and your family are keeping the Swedish tradition alive. Yay! Do you know where your grandpa is from?


  3. Mmmm yum så goda! Spännande att du gjort dom med psyllium :)

  4. Hej Amy,

    Dom blev jättegoda. Har längtat så efter en semla. Och receptet funkar super bra med fiberhusk.


  5. Thank you for this recipe Anna!