The Best Swedish Cream Bun Cake Ever (Semla)

Swedish Cream Bun Cake, also known as “Semla” or “Semlor,” is a traditional Swedish pastry that is popular during Lent, particularly on “Fat Tuesday” or “Shrove Tuesday” (known as “Fettisdagen” in Swedish). It is a cardamom-spiced sweet bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream that is typically served with a bowl of warm milk. Here’s a recipe to help you make this delectable Swedish treat:


For the sweet buns:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (around 110°F/43°C)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the almond paste filling:

  • 1 cup almond meal or ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For serving:

  • Powdered sugar for dusting


For the sweet buns:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and ground cardamom.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm milk. Let it sit for a few minutes until it becomes foamy.
  3. Add the softened butter and beaten egg to the yeast mixture. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5-7 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  6. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-1.5 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  7. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  8. Once the dough has risen, divide it into 12 equal pieces and shape them into round balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Let the buns rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  10. Bake the sweet buns in the preheated oven for about 15-18 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely.

For the almond paste filling:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the almond meal (or ground almonds) and powdered sugar.
  2. Gradually add the milk, stirring until you achieve a smooth and spreadable consistency. You may need to adjust the amount of milk as needed.

For the whipped cream:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.

Assembling the Swedish Cream Bun Cake (Semla):

  1. Cut the tops off the cooled sweet buns and set them aside.
  2. Scoop out some of the center of each bun to create space for the filling.
  3. Fill each bun with a generous dollop of almond paste filling.
  4. Pipe or spoon whipped cream over the almond paste filling.
  5. Place the tops of the sweet buns back on top of the whipped cream.
  6. Dust the Swedish Cream Bun Cakes with powdered sugar.

As is customary in Sweden, serve the Swedish Cream Bun Cakes with a cup of warm milk. This classic Swedish pastry features a delightful combination of cardamom-spiced buns, almond paste, and fluffy whipped cream!