Life of Johanna

The Semla

Normally I don’t blog about edible things, even though it’s a major interest of mine. But it’s semla season in Sweden and I wanted to talk a little about this iconic Swedish pastry. It’s a wheat bun spiced with cardamom and filled with almond paste. On top there is a generous serving size of whipped cream and the whole bun is finished off with a lid and powdered sugar. It’s one of my favorite pastry, with a very harmonious blend of tastes, and very filling, almost like a meal. Traditionally it was eaten at the end of the fast and it’s supposed to only be eaten on the “Semmelday” in late February/early March. However nowadays it’s sold from the January to April. I prefer to eat it the traditional way with warm milk, but I’m not too picky about that.

Most Swedes loves this treat, but I’m curious on how others reacts to this, somewhat overpowering, specialty. I know that a couple of expats reads this blog so I would love to know if someone has tried semla.
As for me and my eldest daughter, this was our dinner tonight (though we did eat a carrot too). Sometimes it’s nice to give the wholesome cooking a rest and be a little irresponsible.


  • luckylibbet
    January 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    That looks absolutely delicious. I love both almond and cardamom, so I bet I'd love it even though I've never tried it. Off to google recipes….

  • luckylibbet
    January 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Found one here:

    I am definitely baking semla this week!

  • Johanna
    January 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    That is awesome to hear! They are not difficult at all to make, the bun is pretty straight forward to bake and the filling takes just a few minutes to assemble.

  • LisaB
    January 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Johanna, that looks fabulous! I wish we had them here. May need to take a look at that recipe link!

  • vespabelle
    January 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Those look so good and you say it can be dinner? I'm printing out luckylibbet's recipe right now!

  • Johanna
    January 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Vespabelle: I'm not sure the government health department would call it a well rounded meal, but the semla is very filling 🙂

  • Ann's Fashion Studio
    January 27, 2011 at 1:06 am

    It looks yummy! I'll check luckylibbet's recipe ~ is it similar to how you make it 🙂

  • LindaC
    January 27, 2011 at 1:49 am

    I would definitely try this. It looks delicious. I would make it if the recipe looks easy enough. 🙂 I'm going to check it out.

  • Joy
    January 27, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Sure looks delicious! Yum.

    My great-great-great grandparents were expats (wow…)!

  • Tineke
    January 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I didn't like semlor so much at first, but they have grown on me a bit. Mainly it's the almond paste I have a problem with … it's a bit too close to marzipan for my liking (marzipan is one of the very few foods that I really, really dislike!)

    They remind me a little of the donuts we had when I was a kid … a soft hot dog bun, but with whipped cream and strawberry jam instead of a sausage and mustard. Nom nom nom!

  • Julia
    January 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Ooo looks fab!! I love traditions especially edible ones and these are some of my favourite flavours (though I would sneak the cream off if that isn't sacrilege ;0)

  • Quincunx
    March 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Of course it's a well-rounded meal! Semlor are round.

    When I first made these, I made the filling with a 50/50 mix of crumbs from scooping out the middle and ground almonds, before adding the sugar, and no essence of almond. It cut way down on the marzipan-like taste. Taster input here made me go back to 100% ground almonds and a dab of essence of almond.


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