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Freshly baked semla
Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The Swedish Semla

Semla in singular form or semlor in plural – (and let's face it, any decent bun lover will always have at least two so call them semlor) are doughy balls of sin, oozing a slathericious almond and cardamom paste with lashings and lashings of vanilla-whipped cream atop.

Traditionally eaten only on the day before Lent, (the Christian fasting period), semlor are now eaten on a daily basis by semlor addicts nationwide from Christmas until Easter.

When do you eat semla?

Shrove Tuesday, known as Fettisdagen or ‘Fat Tuesday’ in Sweden, the land of the skinny jeans.

Where can you get a semla (or two)?

Every bakery and café worth its salt. Or sugar and fat in this case. 

Who eats semlor?

Semla addicts who love them and eat them daily and traditionalists who only eat them on weekends, and the truly traditional who only eat them on Fat Tuesday.

How to eat semla like a local:

Start with the lid. Use it to scoop up some of the gooey contents. Proceed with the rest of the bun. The carnal eat it shamelessly straight from hand-to-mouth. The refined like to fork-it. Bohemians do it with a spoon. Tourists do it with confusion. And traditionalists order it in a bowl of warm milk. All are equally good.