Semla with Coffee & Swedish Memories

We sat around the dinning room table, my Mom, sister, Mormor (mom’s mom) and I. Mom poured coffee into antique tea cups and I dusted powdered sugar over plump semlor. Mormor reminisced about her grandfather’s Swedish farm, Ybby. She has a painting of this farm hanging in her living room.

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“The last time I had raw milk was when I was in Sweden”, she said as she poured fresh raw milk into her coffee cup. “When we used to visit the farm they had all kinds of stuff like that – homemade cheese and bread…it was so good.”

She was just a girl when she would visit with her brother,  sister, and mother. My Mormor is on the right.

mormor-and-children

Mormor said they would pour warm milk into bowls with the semla – that’s the traditional way to eat it. I decided to add coffee to mine. Maybe it’s mixing cultures because it tastes a lot like Italian tiramisu. I imagine my great-great-grandfather may have tried his semla this way back in the days on the farm.

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You’ll never guess what made me want to make this recipe in the first place.

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That’s right, a stamp. My Mormor and her Swedish friend, Ruth, (Yes, the one who gave me the recipe for Mazarinmuffins.) send me all the stamps from their foreign correspondence. Many of them boast of Sweden’s delicious pastries and baked goods.

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Semla is a cardamom bun filled with almond paste, topped with whipped cream, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but there are similar ones all over the internet. Mormor said these were smaller than usual, but the size was perfect for tea time.

Swedish Semla

Makes 16 Semlor       (Semlor is plural for Semla, in case you were wondering. I was… :)

Bun-

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 5 t. yeast
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. water

Filling –

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 200 g. almond paste or marzipan
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 t. vanilla

For buns –

Melt butter. Add milk and yeast. Let sit 3-5 minutes. Add salt, sugar and egg and beat well.

Combine baking powder, cardamom, and flour. Mix two cups of flour mixture into butter mixture and beat to combine. Add remaining flour and knead until smooth and glossy. Coat with oil, cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Turn out onto a bread board and cut into 16 pieces. Shape into round balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 450. Beat together egg and water. Brush rolls with egg mixture and bake 8 minutes, or until golden. Cool to the touch.

Cut the top off the bun with a serrated knife. Use a fork to make a well in the center of the bottom part of the bun. Reserve the centers for the filling.

For filling –

Combine almond paste and milk in a bowl. Add bun centers and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Spoon into the hollowed buns.

Whip cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla together. Pipe or spoon onto filled buns. Place the top of the bun on the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

IMG_0702Serve with warm milk and hot coffee.

Steel Cut Oats with Apricots, Cherries, and Cardamom

It’s been a rough week. A busy week.

My step-grandpa passed away after 91 years of living, so we took a trip to Arkansas for the service and to be with my Mormor. It was a quick trip because we had obligations here to get back to. My mom stayed with my grandma, though, and she and my sister are bringing her down this weekend. It will be good. I think Mormor needs to get away for a little bit. My Swedish grandma has outlived two husbands, and at 93, still loves to shop and swim and hang out with us young(er) ones.

At her age, it has to be terribly hard to feel so alone, but she needs to know she’s not alone. That she can come stay here with us. I hope she accepts that this weekend.

I want to make her Semla for tea one afternoon. And for breakfast, I think she’d like a warm bowl of steel cut oats strewn with apricot pieces, plump cherries, and hints of orange, cardamom, and vanilla.

Sound good? Stick around and I’ll make a bowl for you too.

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Steel Cut Oats with Apricots, Cherries, and Cardamom

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3 T. yogurt, plain

Combine, cover and soak overnight. In the morning, add…

  • 3 c. water
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. cardamom

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, combine and soak…

  • 3/4 c. sliced, dried apricots
  • 1/2 c. dried cherries
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 T. vanilla

After the 15 minutes buzzer goes off, add the dried fruit mixture, along with…

  • 2-4 T. butter

Cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until desired consistency. Serve with raw honey, cream, toasted nuts, and a dash of cinnamon on top.

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Dip your spoon into this creamy, chewy, porridge and let all your worries melt away with the butter.

A Cup of Chai

There is something about a warm mug of tea hugged between one’s two hands…

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I don’t know, it just makes me think happy thoughts. Fluffy down comforter, flickering flames in the wood stove and a book that pulls you into the story page by page (notice I didn’t say swipe by swipe of the finger tip ;)  – those are the welcome companions of a cup of tea.

That, and a dash of milk, a smidgen of honey and some whipped cream, of course.

Not to mention the heavenly smell of spices wafting through the house.

Have I talked you into a cup of Chai?

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Toss your choice of the following into a sauce pan:

  • freshly grated ginger
  • pepper corns
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • whole cardamom pods
  • a vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • whole allspice
  • star anise
  • black tea leaves

Add about 6 cups of water.

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Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for an hour or two.

Strain into a mug.

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Add some milk and enough honey or sugar or maple syrup to bring out the spicy flavors. It’s a lovely color isn’t it?

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Top with whipped cream and sip ever so slowly.

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You may store the rest in a jar for later. Keep the spices in the liquid for more intense flavor.

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If you could have a good hour on a rainy day with a warm beverage and a book, what would you drink?

Double points for telling us what you would read as well!

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