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Semla season has started

Feb 27, 2017 anne_pihl
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If you’re already living in Sweden, you’re bound to recognise this delicacy, a Swedish Semla. Even if you’ve somehow managed to miss the advertising, this is bound to be one of the first items you will see on entering any supermarket this week.

Here’s the background story and some tips for making and selecting this Swedish treat.

What is a semla?

A semla (semlor, in plural) is a Swedish cream bun, or more specifically, a cardamom-flavoured wheat bun which has its top cut off, and is then filled with a mix of milk and almond paste, topped with whipped cream. The cut-off top serves as a lid and is dusted with icing sugar.

When is it semla season?

Semlor are traditionally eaten on Fettisdagen (aka Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday), which this year falls tomorrow, 28th February. It’s not a fixed date as Fettisdagen marks the start of the Christian religious observance of Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, just before Easter Sunday. We have now entered peak semla season. The good news is that supply is no longer limited to this time of year – it’s now possible to buy semlor pretty much  all year around at some bakeries.

Energy for the ski slopes

Fortunately “Fat Tuesday” coincides with sportlov (the sports break) this year so it’s easy to indulge when you can work off all those cream buns on the slopes.

The downfall of a Swedish King

Legend has it that King Adolf Frederick of Sweden died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after consuming a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off by fourteen helpings of semla, the king’s favorite dessert.

Top notch semlor – the best bakeries in Stockholm

Here are the top results of Dagens Nyheter’s Stockholm Semla Test 2017, an annual reportage on the best semlor in town conducted by Sweden’s leading morning newspaper. The highest points were awarded to the following four establishments for their semlor, where 5 was the highest possible score.

  • Dessert och choklad Stockholm, Patentgatan 7, Lilla Essingen, 5 points
  • Älvsjö konditori, Johan Skyttes väg 204, Älvsjö, 5 points
  • Tössebageriet, Karlavägen 77, Östermalm, 4.5 points
  • Vetekatten, Kungsgatan 55, City, 4.5 points

Looking for a semla recipe in English?

Look no further. Here is a selection of recipes for you to try

Happy Fettisdagen!

We hope you enjoy your first Swedish Semla.

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