Semlor – the Swedish Shrove Tuesday bun

Posted in Swedish Food by

My Swedish Instagram friends are sharing them for a couple of weeks already: photos of semlor! This Swedish pastries look really delicious (and they are)! You actually eat a semla on Fat Tuesday, a bit like we then eat pancakes. Semlor are also called Fettisdagsbullar.

Semla semlor, zweeds recept

Semlor are so popular (Every year 40 million semlor are sold. That’s more than 4 per Swede!) and you can find them in the Swedish bakeries earlier each year. In Stockholm there is even a bakery who created a modern version a few years back: the wrap semla (the semmelwrap was on sale at Tössebagariet).

This year the combination of the princess cake and the semla is the big trend. I would really love to try it because I’m a fan of those princesses tarts and of semlor so the combination to me seems entirely like heaven on a plate. I’ll have to hurry though because although the semlor always show up in the shops earlier and earlier, after Easter you can’t find them anymore.

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

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


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 us on this day but they eat Fettisdagensbullar or semlor. And because of these cakes, they call this day Semmeldagen as well. In 2017 semmeldagen is on the 28th of February.

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

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. Now knead balls. Keep in mind that the dough will continue to rise so don’t put the buns too close to eachother. Then cover up and let rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees in the meantime. Depending on the size the buns should be in the oven between 10 and 25 minutes. Get them out and let them cool down.
  7. While the buns are cooling down, you can start with the filling. Because I did not find almond paste, I chose marzipan. The World Wide Web could not really help whether it was the same or not.
  8. Grate the marzipan.
  9. When the buns have cooled down cut off the top. Use a fork to remove the middle.
  10. 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 again with this filling.
  11. Finish with a good layer of cream and put the hat on it. Finally add a finishing of powdered sugar.
  12. Enjoy! Want to enjoy the semla in a really traditional way? Put the semla in a deep plate and pour hot milk around it

It is a real calorie bomb, so you are warned. I had one for lunch (oops) and still don’t feel hungry 🙂

Previous Post Next Post

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like