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Swedish Food

Semlor – the Swedish Shrove Tuesday bun

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My Swedish Instagram friends have been sharing pictures of semlor for weeks already. These Swedish pastries look really delicious. You actually eat a semla on Shrove Tuesday. Semlor are also called Fettisdagsbullar.

Semlor are so popular (Every year around 40 million semlor are sold. That’s more than 4 per Swede!) that you can find them in the Swedish bakeries earlier each year. But be aware: once it has been Easter, you can’t find them anymore and have to wait until next year.

The traditional way of eating semlor is by putting the semla in a bowl and pour hot milk around it. The Swedes call this ‘hetvägg’.

Did you know that the word semla comes from the Latin word semila which means ‘flour from very good quality’.

Semla with a modern twist

The last years, you can find modern versions of the semlor in some bakeries in Sweden. A few years ago the semla wrap or semmelwrap was on sale at Tössebagariet.

In 2017 the combination of the princess cake and the semla was the big trend. I really would have loved to try it because I’m a fan of those princesses tarts and of semlor so the combination seems like heaven on a plate to me. In 2018 the nacho semla from Mr. Cake were the thing. I wonder what it will be this year!


Fettisdagen is the Swedish version of our Shrove Tuesday. The tradition wants us to have one last binge before we fast for 40 days. The Swedes don’t eat pancakes like we do in Belgium but they have Fettisdagsbullar or semlor. And because of these cakes, they call this day Semmeldagen as well.

Fettisdagen: when?

  • 2020: 25 February
  • 2021: 16 February
  • 2022: 1 March
  • 2023: 21 February
  • 2024: 13 February
  • 2025: 4 March

Because it still might take a while before I am in Sweden again, I tried baking some semlor myself this week.

Classic recipe for semla


For the bullar

  • 75 grams of butter
  • 300 ml milk
  • 10 g of yeast
  • half a teaspoon of salt
  • 55 g of sugar
  • a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 500 grams of flour
  • 1 egg (or a bit of milk – to give the bullar some colour)

For the filling

  • 200 grams almond paste
  • 120 ml milk
  • cream
  • icing


  1. Do the milk and butter in a pan and let the butter melt. Put the yeast in here.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the contents of the pan with the mixture in the bowl and knead for five minutes until you have a nice dough that no longer sticks to your fingers.
  4. Let this rise (covered) for half an hour.
  5. Knead into balls. Keep in mind that the dough will continue to rise so don’t put the buns too close to each other. Then cover it and let rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Coat the buns with some egg or milk.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Depending on the size of the buns, the buns should be in the oven between 10 and 25 minutes. Get them out and let them cool off.
  8. While the buns are cooling, you can start with the filling. Because I did not find almond paste, I chose marzipan.
  9. Grate the marzipan.
  10. When the buns have cooled down cut off the top. Use a fork to remove the middle.
  11. Mix the marzipan, the breadcrumbs and milk into a solid mass. Make sure that this mass is no longer running like fluid. Fill the buns up with this filling.
  12. Finish with a good layer of cream and put the hat on it. Finally add a finishing of powdered sugar.
  13. Enjoy! Want to enjoy the semla in a really traditional way? Put the semla in a deep plate and pour hot milk around it.

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Swedish recipe - semla

Bake your own gingerbread or pepparkakor

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When I am writing this blog post, the rain is tapping against the window. It really is such a perfect day to stay at home, wrapped up under a blanket and with the fire on,  with a cup of hot chocolate and some pepparkakor!

There are a few sweet delights that are absolutely linked to Sweden, like kanelbullar and pepparkakor or ginger biscuits. Even though I eat them throughout the year, pepparkakor are really typical for the fall and the weeks before Christmas 🙂

You can choose for the convenience of buying the biscuits at Ikea but if you want your whole house to smell pepparkakor-like, you should definitely try to bake them yourself! It takes a little bit of planning because you have to let the dough rest for a day but the result is well worth it!

Tip: make a lot of dough and bake some fresh cookies every day. You can safely store the dough for a few days in the refrigerator. You could even freeze the dough with no problems.

Pepparkakor (1)

Ingredients for pepparkakor

  • 150 gr of butter
  • 250 gr of crystal sugar
  • 50 gr of honey or syrup
  • 100 ml of water
  • 450 gram of flour
  • 1 spoon of cinnamon
  • 1 large teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom
  • sachet baking powder


Mix the butter, granulated sugar and honey. Add the seasoning and water. Finally add the flour. Knead this rigidly and let it rest overnight. Cover it and let it rest in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and roll out the dough until it is about half a centimeter thick. Now you can release the artist within yourself and cut shapes to your choice. I chose minimalist round ones.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and let the cookies bake for five minutes. Be patience while they are cooling before tasting these delicious cookies!

Tip: Keep the cookies in a sealed tin. Do’nt worry about how long you can keep them. They are so tasty that they will be gone and eaten all very fast!

Extra’s suggestions: Decorate the cookies with some frosting or add some almonds or candied pieces of ginger. Real Swedes eat their pepparkaka with glögg!
Genuine creative people make a real gingerbread house with this dough.

History of pepparkakan

It is not immediately clear where pepparkakor come from. The Romans would have even known these cookies already! In England and Germany, the gingerbread biscuits cookies are very popular too. Presumably pepparkakor ended up in Sweden via Germany.
In the 14th century, the cookie was on the menu at the wedding of King Magnus Eriksson and Blanka av Namur. In the 15th century they used real peppers in the cookies. The nuns of the Vadstena convent baked cakes and sold them as a medicine. The cookies apparently have a calming effect and help with the digestion. Several centuries later the pepparkakor recipes were found in the cookbooks. In the 18th century it became a real “Christmas cookie”. Now you can find the cookies all year round.

Just like they have a day for kanelbullar, the Swedes also have a pepparkakans dag. This is celebrated every year on December the 9th.

Recipe for kanelbullar

Posted in Swedish Food by

One of the nice things in Sweden is fika. Although I am not a coffee drinker (don’t even try to explain that to a Swede), but I do love fika. Taking the time for a break, to socialize and to enjoy something sweet: I’m in! 

Recipe kanelbullar

When I am in Sweden I eat those kanelbullar or cinnamon rolls all the time. Even at home I sometimes really carve for a kanelbulle… Not to mention kardemummabullar!

Since 1999, October the 4th has been declared Kanelbullens dag or Cinnamon bun day. Yes, Sweden has a lot of festive days for food

When I have to catch my flight back home, I usually buy a few kanelbullar so I have my Swedish breakfast the next day. It softens the Sweden-blues instantly. When the going gets tough, I sometimes stop by at Ikea, just to eat a kanelbulle in their coffee shop. Guess you could call it an addiction. Although I think it is more like a Swedish melancholy. If Sweden or Ikea are no an option, I bake them myself!

Baking kanelbullar is definitely not difficult. I’ve baked kanelbullar several times already and tried different recipes to end up with my own recipe which I am happy to share with you!

Recipe kanelbullar

Ingredients for 20 kanelbullar

Ingredients for the dough

  • 300 cl milk
  • 50 gram of butter
  • Yeast (37 grams)
  • 800 grams of flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 grams of sugar

Ingredients for the cinnamon paste

  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 50 gram of butter

Ingredients for the finish touch

  • Sugar pearls
  • Egg


Baking kanelbullar takes a while. It is not a lot of work, but the dough has to rise a few times which takes time. Begin by heating up the milk and let the butter melt in it. The milk shouldn’t boil! You still have to be able to put your finger in the milk without burning your finger 😉 If you’re a professional and use a thermometer you have to warm it up to 37 C°.

Meanwhile, mix the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Add the warmed milk and knead until you have a smooth batter. Let this rise (covered under a kitchen towel) for 1 hour.

With the rolling pin, roll the dough into a long rectangle. Mix the ingredients for the cinnamon pasta and spread it out on your dough. Then roll the dough until you have a long sausage.

Cut slices of about one and a half centimeter. Press the rolls a little and let it rise for another half an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees and bake the buns for 12-15 minutes.

Recipe kanelbullar

If you want to save some for later, you can put them in the freezer. But mine usually don’t last that long 😉