Semla - A Swedish Bun Delight

Author: Caroline Brandelius edited by Nora Ross 15/02/2021   Date Posted:23 February 2020 

Semla -  A Swedish Bun delight

Semla - A delicious, two layered wheat and cardamom bun filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream is arguably Sweden’s most beloved pastry.

Every year on the Tuesday that lies in the seventh week before Easter, is where the so-called “Fat Tuesday” or “Semmeldagen” (the day of the Semla) falls. The national day of this delicious pastry.

A Swedish Tradition

“Fettisdagen” or Shrove Tuesday is a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, when a law was instituted that for 3 days before the 40 day fast leading up to Easter an obligatory feast should be held, where people should eat as much as they could to sustain them through the fasting season. The last of these three days was the Semla Day.

Later, Gustav Vasa, a Swedish king who broke with the tradition that the semla was only allowed to be eaten on Fat Tuesday, decided, to the delight of the Swedish population, that the semla could now be consumed between December and February.

The Semla Today

Nowadays, bakeries and cafes usually start baking Semla after Christmas. Every year there is a big buzz about where the best Semla is served. There are several Semla-judges that visit bakeries and cafes to award the best Semla of the year. It is a big deal because the judges’ decision normally gets publicity in the newspaper and the winning bakery will be making some big bucks during the Semla season.

Many Swedes would prefer the classic Semla, but every year a new twist on how to make a Semla is presented. There are Semlas filled with blueberries, vanilla custard, raspberries and chocolate. Others are made out of cinnamon buns, saffron buns and Danish pastry, and in 2017 everyone’s favourite turned out to be the Semla wrap. There even is a Semla Nachos version amongst the never-ending ways of putting a twist on the traditional Semla.

Enjoy Semla the Swedish Fika Way

The best way to enjoy your Semla is the Swedish Fika way. Sit down alone or with friends, take a break and leave the hectic everyday life behind and appreciate the now, while sipping on your coffee and munching on your Semla. 

If you haven’t tried this little Swedish delight it is about time to do so. And if you’re in Australia and don’t have a Semla-bakery next door, roll up your sleeves and bake your own. It is super easy and well-worth the time spent in the kitchen.

Check out the recipe below, to get a taste of your own Swedish Semla this February. 

Recipe “Swedish Semla” Fika at Grandmas (


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