Semla (Swedish Fat Tuesday Buns)


Semla are delicious Swedish cardamom-scented, almond paste-filled sweet buns.

Prep Time:
45 mins
Rise Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
Bake Time:
12 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 17 mins
12 semla buns


Dough Starter:

  • 1 cup warm milk (95-100 degrees F)

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • cup powdered sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon water

Almond Filling:

  • 14 ounces almond paste

  • ½ cup powdered sugar

  • cup milk, or as needed to achieve desired texture

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or to taste

For Serving:

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, whipped

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Pour milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast on top, followed by 1 1/3 cups flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Allow to stand until foamy, about 20 minutes.

  2. Add flour, softened butter, powdered sugar, egg, cardamom, and salt; knead with dough hook (or by hand) until a soft, smooth, elastic dough forms, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Divide into 12 equal portions. Using flour as necessary, roll dough under a cupped hand to form perfectly smooth balls.

  3. Place dough balls evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving space in between and slightly push down. Dust tops with flour, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

  5. Stir together egg and water in a small bowl and brush rolls all over with egg wash.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer buns onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

  7. Combine almond paste, powdered sugar, milk, and cardamom in a food processor and blend almond filling until smooth.

  8. Cut a triangle from the top of the buns, and remove some of the crumbs to make room for the filling. Pipe almond filling into each bun, and top with whipped cream. Place the triangle on top and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

    sweet buns with whipped cream on top and powdered sugar
    Chef John

Cook's Note:

Use a food scale to make sure your portions are equal. Weigh the entire dough ball then divide by 12.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

515 Calories
28g Fat
58g Carbs
9g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 515
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 13g 63%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 193mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 9g
Potassium 230mg 5%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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