The lowdown on Sweden's best buns
Published: 12 Feb 2013 08:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Feb 2013 08:01 GMT+01:00
It's that time of year again, the day Swedes sink their teeth into cream-filled semla buns. But what goes into a semla? Who makes the best ones? And why is the bun looked upon with suspicion by royal historians?
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In an effort to shed light on this mouth-watering mystery, The Local offers up ten things you've always wanted to know about semlor but were afraid to ask.
1. What is a semla?
It's a cream bun native to Sweden and Finland.
2. Why is everyone banging on about them today?
Because they are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday.
3. You mean Pancake Tuesday or Mardi Gras?
Yes, whatever you want to call it, it's the day before the start of the Christian season of Lent. In Sweden it's most commonly known as Fat Tuesday (Fettisdag) or Semla Day (Semmeldagen).
4. So what's in these semla things?
A modern semla is a wheat bun, spiced with cardamom. The top is knocked off and the bun is hollowed out a bit to make room for almond paste and whipped cream.
5. So the top is just thrown away?
No, it's popped back on and sprinkled with icing sugar.
6. And then you just pick it up and eat it.
You can. But a lot of people prefer to put it in a bowl of hot milk and eat it with a spoon.
7. Sounds like a Lenten fast would be well-advised after eating one of these monstrosities.
Definitely. King Adolf Frederick famously died in 1771 after eating 14 of them for dessert.
8. Do people only eat them on Shrove Tuesday?
No. The semla season has been lengthening ever since Luther lost his grip on the country. You're likely to spot them in many bakeries for the entire first half of the year. Swedes eat 40 million of them per season.
9. Where does the name semla come from anyway?
From the Latin semilia, meaning top notch wheat flour. But southern Swedes refer to them as shrovetide buns.
10. All this talk is making me hungry. Where can I get one?
Every bakery in Sweden will have them on Tuesday, as will many grocery stores and convenience stores like Pressbyrån or 7-Eleven.
But here are some recommendations for the three main cities. Enjoy!
Vete-katten, Kungsgatan 55
Tössebageriet, Karlavägen 77
Gunnarssons, Götgatan 92
Cederleüfs konditori, Göteborgsvägen 74
Svenheimers Konditori, Brahegatan 11
Nöjds Konditori, Långedragssvägen 22
Lomma Hembageri, Strandvägen 96
Vendels Organic Bakery, Föreningsgatan 30
Martins Konditori & Kafé, Södra Förstadsgatan 88