Swedish Semlor with Hazelnut Filling

swedish semla

Semlor are traditional sweet rolls with awesome filling and whipped cream. (Semlor is plural of semla.) One review called them “doughy balls of sin” which sounded like a good endorsement.

I wanted to make sure I had as authentic a recipe as possible, so I visited a few Swedish sites.  But then I realized how insane it would be to attempt any recipe based on the results of a google translation. Here are a few of my favorite poorly translated lines, for your entertainment:

Cut the lids. Take as much chops you’d like, scoop out the portion of the giblets and mix it.


Pour in some milk so that it is possible to move to a smooth move. Add the mess in the holes in the rolls.


Add the icing on the buns and place on eyelids.

I can’t even imagine what sort of awfulness I’d end up with if I followed those directions.  So I went with this version instead. It’s approximately the same authentic recipe, minus the giblets and eyelids.

You can buy almond paste from the store, or make it yourself. I made hazelnut paste since I have so many around.

Hazelnut Paste

  • 3.5 oz hazelnuts
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cream


In order to make a light colored paste, boil the hazelnuts for about 5 minutes and then peel off the dark outer skins.

boiled nuts

peeled hazelnuts

Finely blend the hazelnuts with the sugars in a food processor, and then add the cream to create a paste consistency.

paste closeup

Roll it out onto plastic wrap and refrigerate if you are making ahead of time.

hazelnut paste roll

Adapted from here.


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (divided)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 5 ounces almond or hazelnut paste
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • powdered sugar

In a small pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the milk and heat until just warm, around 115 degrees F. Remove the pan from heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use a finger. If you can’t put your finger in for more than a few seconds, then it is too hot. (careful not to burn yourself in the process.)

Stir in the yeast, followed by the sugar, salt and one beaten egg. Let it sit while the yeast rises. In a large mixing bowl, (I used my kitchen aid bowl) mix together the flour, baking powder and cardamom.

Mix the yeast liquid into the flour. I usually knead bread by hand, but in this case an electric mixer was a must. On low speed, it took about 15 minutes until the dough began pulling away from the sides of the bowl and became elastic and stretchy.

Leave the dough in the mixing bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise for 30 minutes.

risen dough

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand until it is smooth and elastic. It only took a couple minutes this time.  Divide the dough into 15 balls and arrange them onto two parchment papered baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cover the sheets with a towel and let the rise for 60 minutes until doubled in size.

risen semlor dough balls

Beat the second egg and brush the tops.

Bake 8-10 minutes until nicely browned. Let them cool completely before slicing.

baked semla

Cut off the tops and scoop out some of the crumbs from the middle to make room for the almond or hazelnut paste. Add one tablespoon of paste to the center of each semla.

hazelnut paste filling in semla

Cover with whipped cream and then replace the tops. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

finished semla



half semla


1)   Your house is going to smell like an incredible pastry shop.

2)   Holy crap, semlor are awesome.

3)   They will all be gone in 5 minutes.

partially eaten semla

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