I have been doing some thinking since last week.
Last week I talked about how a bread that I had put in the fridge after being fully risen then collapsed and never managed to rise completely. I have a new hypothesis now, one which explains that observation, some of the experiments I did with this dough, and also underlies how there is no need for alarm about collapsing your bread dough (unless you’re me).
After the first rise of this dough, I put it in the fridge, fully risen, until the next day. The next day it was perfectly fine–it hadn’t collapsed at all and the dough was quite tough and springy. This is observation #1.
Observation #2 is that my sourdough breads always seem to turn out very sour. I don’t feed the sourdough starter too often and all the acidity seems to build up.
I also tend to find that my sourdough can only rise so much (observation #3). It can never really make it to a full third rise. I had always vaguely ascribed this to the rabid yeast-y creatures having chewed everything up even though my sourdough always rises so slowly, contrarily indicating that the yeast population remains low in abundance and pretty sluggish.
I think that observation #2 (acidity) can explain my observation #3. I think it is the rising acidity, not the rabid action of the yeast which can break down the protein content of the dough, eventually destroying the the gluten structure. Thus, as with observation #1, a new dough (on its first rise) can stand being refrigerated as the protein structure is sufficient to maintain its form. A dough that has been weakened (on its second rise) may not be able to maintain its form upon refrigeration. And even when subsequently given a long time to rise afterwards, it will only be able to rise so much due to the lower gluten content.
As additional support, one time (this was in junior high school so I can look back and laugh at my bread-naivety) I wanted to make a lemon bread and I decided to do this by putting a lot of lemon juice in. There was no gluten structure at all! It rose in a very flat and sloppy manner.
I’m not sure if any of this is right, but it made sense in my head. I might come to a different conclusion later though.
The (for now) conclusion: I need to be careful about how long I keep my bread dough around! I should also feed my sourdough starter more often…maybe this will help? And there is no real concern about collapsing your bread dough if you refrigerate it fully risen. I think it should be quite alright!
Ah, back to the issue of semlor. When I first saw them, I kept on thinking of these magnificent creampuffs from beta5. Now when I see creampuffs the association will go in the other direction and I will think of semlor because they are lovely.
I brainstormed a bit with Claire from This is not a pie after seeing her wonderfully puffy semlor. She was considering a delicious-sounding poppy seed cream, while I mused vaguely (not really certain about how they would play in) about apples. After seeing these raspberry semlor from My Danish Kitchen, jam also started playing a role….
The classic marzipan filling. When I first made it I wasn’t exactly convinced–it is grated marzipan and the torn up bread from the inside of the buns, moistened until soft. However, once it is in the bun, it’s perfect. I suppose because the filling is partly made out the bun, it is quite compatible (like devilled eggs). The texture is a softer, sweeter extension of the bun. Here is the spiced apple filling that I made. I really like it. I mixed together some warm apple with the marzipan and the marzipan melts a bit and the whole thing is a lovely mess when eaten warm.I also folded some cloudberry jam into the whipped cream (in the style of the cloudberry cream from The Nordic Cookbook). It was a bit tart and sweet. I intended to pipe it on top of the classically filled semlor, but I accidentally ended up piping it over the apple semlor (and the plain cream over the classic semlor). The classic ended up staying classic, and with all the flavour from the apple, I didn’t notice anything at all from the cloudberry cream. I think, however, it might be nice to add some tartness to the classic semlor. However, considering that the buns are sourdough, there is plenty of tartness already.While it is not pictured, I did make a third sort of semlor, filled with ricotta and ligonberry preserves.
In making the almond paste, I took some inspiration from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book because it didn’t use any egg white as almond paste typically does (and I prefer to avoid eating raw eggs when I can). I think the almond paste worked out very well–I suppose you just have to be careful to keep it at room temperature and it probably will not last as long. (I also read here that corn syrup is another alternative to egg whites!)
spiced apple and marzipan semlor
Enough dough for 16 semlor. The filling quantities make enough for 4 semlor. I’m calling it marzipan because I think “spiced apple and marzipan” sounds nicer than “spiced apple and almond paste”, but perhaps almond paste is a better description from what I understand of the consistency difference between marzipan and almond paste.
cardamom and spelt buns
The dough is adapted from The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson.I used half the dough to make 8 semlor.
100 g sourdough starter
100 g spelt flour
100 g milk
120 mL milk
80 g butter
1 tbsp (5-6 g) ground cardamom
1 tsp (2 g) kosher salt
100 g sugar
500 g flour
Mix together the sponge and let sit overnight until well risen.
The next day, heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan until the butter melts. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Whisk in the remaining ingredients apart from the flour. Add the sponge and around 400 g of the flour and mix until you form a cohesive dough. Add flour as needed until you have a dough that is tacky but not sticky.
Cover and let rise fully, which took around eight hours for me.
Take half the dough and divide into eight pieces. Roll each into a ball and place on a parchment lined tray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until nicely puffy which took a few hours in a warm place for me.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Brush the buns with a beaten egg. Bake for 10 minutes, turn down the temperature to 350F and bake for another 5.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
filling & assembly
Adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas.
90 g ground almonds
60 g icing sugar
10-15 mL heavy cream
Combine the almonds and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Mix. Add the cream bit by bit until a soft dough is just formed. Chill in the fridge.
classic almond filling
To fill 4 buns, or 1/4 of the dough. From The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson.
1/3 -1/2 of the almond paste
60 mL 36% m.f. cream
2 tbsp cloudberry preserves, optional
Cut the tops off of four of the buns. Hollow out the breads by pulling out the insides. Break apart the bread innards into small pieces. Grate around 1/3 – 1/2 of the almond paste using the large holes of a box grater into the bread innards. Add a dash of milk as needed, just to moisten. Mix together. Pack into the hollowed out buns.
Whip the cream until thick and just stiff.
If desired, flavour the cream with the cloudberry preserves. Press the preserves through a sieve to remove the seeds. Stir one spoonful of cream into the strained preserves. Fold into the cream. Quickly (as the whipped cream begins to collapse a bit, which is accelerated by the jam) place into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a generous amount on the top of each bun.
Top each bun with the piece of bread you previously sliced off. Dust with icing sugar.
spiced apple and marzipan filling
To fill 4 buns, or 1/4 of the dough.
1 large apple
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
dash of grated nutmeg and pinch of ground cloves
1/3 of the almond paste.
60 mL 36% m.f. cream
Core the apple and chop into small pieces. Place in a saucepan and add enough water to partially cover the apples. Add in the spices. Bring to a simmer and cook until the water is mostly gone and the apples are tender.
Grate around 1/3 of the almond paste using the large holes of a box grater into the spiced apples. Stir to combine; if the apples are still warm, the almond paste will melt a bit.
Cut the tops off of four of the buns. Hollow out the breads by pulling out the insides. Fill each bun with 1/4 of the filling.
Whip the cream until thick and just stiff. Put into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and quickly (as the cream begins to collapse when it is in the piping bag) and pipe a generous swirl on top of each bun. Place the small round of bread you previously sliced off the top of each back on top of the cream.
Dust with icing sugar.
I also quite liked a ricotta and ligonberry filling that I tried. Fill the bottom of the bun with a good couple spoonfuls of ricotta (I had flavoured it with a bit of lavender for another purpose), then a spot of ligonberry preserves.