When I was in Lund for the first time, I passed by St: Jakobs Stenugnsbageri. It was February and it had snowed in the morning. In one of the cozy streets I saw a line of people queuing. This had to be something special, I thought. The name of the bakery/coffee house immediately rang a bell when I was back in Lund a few months later and was meeting up for fika at this place. Maybe I even made a small jump of joy at the prospect. I would soon know why Lund inhabitants were so enthusiastic about this place.
Favourite fika spot in Lund
We were lucky. The queue was not so long during the summer months (Lund is a university town). We ordered coffee and hot chocolate and kardemummabulle. My companion immediately took some to take home as well. When I took a bite of my kardemummabulle I knew why it was often so busy at St: Jakobs Stenugnsbageri, and why she had bought the extra’s. This was fika at its best: in an authentic interior (who says coffee bars all have to look over-hip?!), with authentic, tasty products.
The hot chocolate was made with real chocolate. No powder that they dissolve in water or milk, but the real thing! Who orders a coffee can take a free påtår (a second time). It was just super cozy to sit here and suddenly I felt ‘väldigt svensk’. A hotspot to remember and definitely to come back again!
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.
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
Do the milk and butter in a pan and let the butter melt. Put the yeast in here.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
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.
Let this rise (covered) for half an hour.
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.
Coat the buns with some egg or milk.
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.
While the buns are cooling, you can start with the filling. Because I did not find almond paste, I chose marzipan.
Grate the marzipan.
When the buns have cooled down cut off the top. Use a fork to remove the middle.
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.
Finish with a good layer of cream and put the hat on it. Finally add a finishing of powdered sugar.
Enjoy! Want to enjoy the semla in a really traditional way? Put the semla in a deep plate and pour hot milk around it.
One of the best known addresses for a fika in Stockholm is Vetekatten. Vetekatten is located in Norrmalm, along Kungsgatan on the corner with Klara norra Kyrkogata. It is a fika hotspot with a long tradition (since 1928). You can buy both sweets and sandwiches to take away or sit down to enjoy a full fika experience.
This konditorie was on my ‘must visit’-list for a long time and after my first visit, Vetekatten got a spot on my ‘must-return’-list.
The grandeur of Vetekatten
Upon entering the konditori I was surprised by the size of the establishment. It is very spacious. Something you might not expect from the outside. The interior of Vetekatten has a certain grandeur. I love those modern minimalist coffee bars but the authentic interior of Vetekatten is a lovely change to all those similar looking trendy interiors.
It was Esther Nordhammar who started the konditori. At that time it was quite uncommon for a woman to start a business. Ester consciously chose for high quality. They say that, when she was asked for the name of the konditori she replies: Ja, det vete katten. Or: the cat knows.
Savory and sweet
I went straight to the counter where a tough choice was waiting for me. I had to choose from dozens of different pastries that all looked equally nice! Eventually I chose to take a kanelbulle for later that day, and I ate an ‘ivoire dome’ with white chocolate mousse and a raspberry on top.
I chose a quiet spot in one of the armchairs at the side and installed me with my book, the homemade lemonade and my pastry. The ‘ivoire dome’ didn’t only look very appetizing, it really was. I admit, it was not cheap, not even by Scandinavian standards but I enjoyed it intensely. Every bite was an intense experience for my taste buds. I guess I haven’t often enjoyed a pastry so consiously.
Besides the tasty fika you can also enjoy their homemade lemonade and light lunch dishes. Also for breakfast Vetekatten is a must. On Tuesday, they serve their famous afternoon tea, from 15:00. For only 175 kronor you can feast on a sumptuous buffet with sweets, coffee and tea included. Making a reservations is not necessary.
What is your favorite fika-spot in Stockholm? Or what pastry can you advise me for my next visit to Vetekatten?