Inspired from the traditional Swedish Semlor prepared each year for Shrove Tuesday, this easy gooey cake version with cardamom, almonds and whipped cream is to die for!
Shrove Tuesday (also called Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras) is right around the corner! Held on February 13th this year, it’s actually the day just before Valentine’s Day. Very bad timing to start the period of Lent (if you are Catholic, you probably know that Shrove Tuesday is usually the last “fat-eating” day before the period of Lent)! I do not observe this tradition myself but in respect for those who do, I declare February 13th the Big Fat Tuesday, as there are double reasons to eat some delicious sweet treats!
In many countries, Shrove Tuesday is the occasion to eat pancakes. In France, we usually eat “beignets”, which are a kind of fritters i.e. fried, raised pieces of yeast dough sprinkled with sugar. They are also a New Orleans specialty. I am personally not crazy about them, finding them too greasy and unhealthy (I consider that the only taste they have is fat and sugar when I like to focus on the actual taste of food). In Sweden, we go for so-called “semlor” for Shrove Tuesday instead. Have you ever heard of them before?
Swedish semlor are some kind of cardamom-spiced wheat buns that have their tops cut off and the inside filled with an almond cream and topped with whipped cream, sometimes spiced with cardamom too. Final touch: sprinkle some icing sugar on top and you’ve got a lovely little (actually big!) pastry. If you are interested in knowing more about the tradition around the Swedish semlor, I invite you to check my recipe here and discover how it even killed a king in the past!
Over the years, the semlor tradition has evolved in Sweden and pastry chefs now compete with the best semlor idea year after year, adding their own twists to the traditional recipe. Mattias Ljungberg started a few years ago by creating a semmelwrap, which is basically a wrap-shaped semla (singular form of semlor). He wrote a book about semlor and even created the taco-semlor recently. My very good friend and favorite pastry chef in Stockholm Damien Foschiatti from the bakery Fosch Artisan Pâtisserie (a mandatory stop-over if you head to Stockholm!) created a funny version too: the semla family!
You got it: semlor have become a never ending creative story and I’m here today with another version, which is certainly the easiest one: the Semla Gooey Cake! It’s actually a combination between the traditional Swedish Chocolate Gooey Cake “Kladdkaka” which is famous for its gooey inside (seriously, to die for!) and the classic semlor when it comes to the ingredients: mostly almond, cardamom and whipped cream.
While the traditional semlor require some advanced skills (make the wheat bun, use a piping bag, etc.), the cake version couldn’t be easier. In one single bowl, mix all the ingredients together, pour into a baking form and send to the oven. That’s it! The cake is ready when baked through on the edges but still gooey in the inside (you can adjust the “gooey” aspect depending on your own tastes).
You’ll notice however that you need to use some almond paste, which is very easy to find in Sweden but not necessarily in other countries. For this reason, I shared with you a homemade almond paste (you’ll find the recipe in the note below the recipe). Personally I find it better than the ready-to-use almond paste anyway so that the only one I use.
Last but not least, don’t be fooled by the fancy and advanced-looking whipped cream on top of your gooey cake. I had fun making some drawings using my piping bag but you can go your own way and simply spread the whipped cream on top of the cake in a large thick layer. Still delicious!
- 3.5 oz (100g) almond paste*
- ⅔ cup (150g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp cardamom seeds, freshly ground
- ¾ cup (150g) sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1½ cups (35 cl) heavy liquid cream
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar (optional)
- 2-3 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted and cooled
- Preheat oven to 345F (175C). Line a 8 or 9-inch (20-22 cm) round baking form with parchment paper and grease the sides with melted butter.
- In a medium bowl, combine the almond paste* with butter and cardamom seeds, freshly ground. Stir in the remaining ingredients until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the baking form and bake for about 18-22 minutes (the sides must be cooked but the center must remain slightly under-baked).
- Let cool completely, at least 2 hours before serving.
- Just before serving, whip to a Chantilly the heavy cream with powdered sugar if using. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe flower/wavy patterns onto the cake. Decorate with extra cardamon seeds and toasted almonds.
Find also the original semlor recipe below: