Swedish cuisine is rooted in the country’s rich history, but it may not be the most original or varied. Still, there are some culinary traditions that will make you forget about surströmming (a must-try when in Sweden, even if its smell may make you reconsider your life choices). One of these traditions are semlor.
These pastries can be found in almost every café and restaurant between February 1st and Easter in Sweden and Finland, and you cannot go by without tasting them, trust me. They were “invented” in the 16th century, when people wanted to add a little twist on the more boring food during Lent (the period before easter when people fast and eat modest food), and added cream and almond paste to their wheat buns. Since then, the sweets were adapted and cardamom was added to the bun dough, and today’s versions include nutella, jam or matcha.
Semlor (the plural of semla) are now a source of pride and many bagerier try to concoct the best recipe, as people have become more critical and tourists follow guides to tase the best ones.
I have tried a couple of them and let me tell you that I am very grateful for the creative Swedes who decided to cut open a boring bun and put an exaggerated amount of whipped cream and almond paste in the middle. I am not so fond of sweets in general, but this decadent piece of pastry is a delicious treat that will light up any boring day of yours. Here are some good adresses to try them:
- Valhallabageriet, in one of their many locations in town.
- Tössebageriet, one of the oldest bageri in Stockholm.
- BAK, if you are willing to go a little further away from the city centrer.
- Bröd och Salt, a high-quality bakery chain.
Enjoy! But be careful, addiction may ensue.