Find out why Swedes go crazy about the Semla Bun. Why we celebrate Fat Tuesday “Semla Bun day”. Get inspired of different Semla trends like Fika’s Croissant Semla. And learn other fun facts about Sweden’s most popular and awaited dessert.

By Caroline Brandelius, 5th March 2019


How to make a Semla Bun

The Semla bun is made out of flour, milk, butter, sugar, yeast and cardamom. The top gets cut off so you can fill the bun with almond paste and whipped cream. Then you put the top back on and powders it with icing sugar. The moist bread, nutty paste and gooey cream is a heavenly combination when you get it all in one bite.

Why do we eat Semla Buns?

The tradition of eating Semla goes all the way back to the Middle Age. The day before the fasting started people normally had a big feast and a Semla for dessert. It helped to fill them up for the 40 days long fasting that went on to Easter. Originally it was just a bun, overtime the cream and almond paste got added.

The day got called Fat Tuesday and is the official Semla Bun day.

40 million Semla Buns a year

Just in Sweden we eat 40 million Semla buns a year. It is the second most popular pastry after the classic cake Prinsesstårtan. On Fat Tuesday around 5 million Semla buns are sold and imagine all the buns that are made at home, on top of that. It is truly a popular tradition and we get the luxury of not having to fast after as well.

Back in the days bakeries could get fined if they started to bake the Semla before Fat Tuesday. In modern time the official Semla premiers on Boxing Day. Some people still stick to the tradition of only eating Semla on Fat Tuesday but most people just can’t wait. The Semla is just too good to have once a year.

100 versions of Semla Buns

Semla might also be the most loved pastry to invent. All kinds of versions have been made throughout the years. What about a Semla filled with chocolate, lemon curd, jam or blueberries?  Or a classic cinnamon bun cut in half filled with almond paste and cream?

This year you can come and try Fika’s Croissant Semla. It is limited edition, so make sure you get in early.

Some of the latest Semla trends – Tösse’s Semla Wrap, Mr Cake’s Semla Nachos to name a few.

Some of the latest Semla trends – Tösse’s Semla Wrap, Mr Cake’s Semla Nachos to name a few.

The annual best-in-test

It is hard work to be a Semla. Every year a lot of Semla-experts like to have their say. It has to be moist, sweet, generous, small, big, rich, elegant and the list goes on. Newspapers normally have an expert panel to crown the Semla of the year.

3 fun facts about Semla Buns

Here are some fun facts you can share over your next Semla.

  1. Swedish King Adolf Fredrik died of eating too much Semla on Fat Tuesday. After a big dinner he topped up with 14 Semla buns for dessert, which was more than a king could handle in year 1770.

  2. The word Semla comes from the Latin word semilia which means flour.

  3. The Swedish famous fiction detective Ture Sventon loved Semla. He had trouble pronouncing the letter “S” so he called it “temla”.