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Enjoy a ”semla” whenever you like

In days gone by these special cream buns were eaten only on Shrove Tuesday, which is on 25th February this year. Nowadays you can buy them straight after Christmas. Shrove Tuesday falls three days before the beginning of Lent.
A traditional semla, or fastlagsbulle, is a bun baked with white flour,filled with marzipan and cream and topped with icing sugar.
Foto: Tommy Svensson

The three days before the beginning of Lent, in Swedish ”fastlagen”, are special days for Christians. Lent lasts for 40 days, until Easter. Not many Christians fast in Sweden of today.

Shrove Tuesday is observed in many Swedish homes, just as it is all over the world.

The ”semla'”came to Sweden as early as the 13th century. It has had many names. One of the first, hetvägg, is from 1689. Today it is a bun which is eaten with warm milk, just like in olden days.

Marzipan came to Sweden in the 19th century. Recently new variations, such as sausage semla and semla wrap, have begun to make their appearance in cafes.

Another type of semla.
Foto: Anton Hansson
There are lots of different kinds of semla in the shops.
Foto: Staffan Lindbom


Ingredients (26 buns):

150 gr butter

5 dl milk

50 gr yeast

1.5 dl sugar

2 tsp cardamom, crushed

0.5 tsp salt

15 dl plain flour

You must have cream in a semla.
Foto: Mark Hanlon


400 gr marzipan

1.5 dl milk

6 dl double cream

Icing sugar to garnish

Foto: Anton Hedberg
Big Hit semla, for the Eurovision Song Contest which begins in February.
Foto: Lasse Ottosson


1. Melt butter. Add milk, warm to 37'.

2.Crumble yeast into milk and stir until it is dissolved.Add sugar, cardamom, salt and almost all of the flour (reserve a little for rolling out later).

3. Knead to a dough, about 5 minutes in a mixer, 10 minutes by hand. Cover and leave for about 40 minutes to rise.

4. Put dough on a floured worktop and divide it into 26 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls.Put the buns on a baking-sheet with non-stick paper.Cover over with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. Set the oven at 225' C.

5. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes, until they are golden-brown. Cool on a wire tray.

A cinnamon bun can be a semla too.
Foto: Lasse Ottosson


1. Cut a little lid from the top of each bun.

2. Grate the marzipan on the coarse side of the grater.

3. Remove some of the inside from each bun and mix with the marzipan. Add milk, mix to a thick paste.

4. Divide the mixture among the bun cases. Whip the cream until it is fluffy and portion out among the buns.Replace the lids on top of the cream. Dust with icing sugar.