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CINNAMON BUN DAY

FOOD & DRINK

Cinnamon Bun Day: What’s it all about?

Swedes love their cinnamon buns so much they even gave the baked goods their own annual day - kanelbullens dag - offering sweet-toothed Swedes something special to celebrate. The Local finds out more.

Cinnamon Bun Day: What's it all about?

Every year on October 4th, the Swedes celebrate Cinnamon Bun Day. Cafes, restaurants, and convenience stores across the country sell the spiced Swedish buns.

The holiday was invented in 1999 by the Home Baking Council (Hembakningsrådet), a club of baking ingredient producers now run by Danish sugar company Dansukker. The company wanted to create a baking tradition in honour of its 40th anniversary.

“We wanted to celebrate home-baking,” Birgit Nilsson Bergström, project manager at the Home Baking Council, told The Local. “So we talked with various bakers, teachers, and just all sorts of ordinary people, and we asked what bread they thought of when they thought of home-baking. And that was it.”

The cinnamon bun itself has been a beloved pastry in Sweden since the 1920s. Money was tight during World War I, and it wasn’t until after the war that many Swedish households could afford to splurge on the ingredients.

The Swedish cinnamon bun is much less sticky and sweet than the typical American cinnamon roll. Another essential difference in Swedish cinnamon buns is the cardamom spice in the dough, which adds another dimension of flavour.

The buns are baked for just a few minutes in a very hot oven, making them light and fluffy with a golden brown surface. They are then topped with grains of “pearl sugar” as opposed to frosting or glaze.

Nowadays cinnamon rolls can be found around the world, but in Sweden they’ve got that extra something – a touch of Scandinavian simplicity.

“We’re experts at fika,” Bergström said with a laugh. “Our Swedish cinnamon rolls are simpler, more every-day, and yet tastier. They have less fat, less sugar… They’re more plain, but still festive for us, and very Swedish.”

IN PICTURES: As Swedish as cinnamon rolls? ‘Swedish’ cuisine unmasked

For Bergström, the bun-baking bonanza begins the night before the big day.

“I’m going to put the first batch of dough in the fridge tonight,” she told The Local on Thursday afternoon.

“I’ll bake it early in the morning, and invite over all of my neighbours in the apartment. If they’re not home I’ll leave a bag of buns outside the door.”

During the evening Bergström will be meeting for a celebration at a local cafe in Gothenburg. Participants will talk about buns and Sweden’s fika culture, and of course feast on the cinnamon concoctions. The Home Baking Council will also announce the winners of its contest to redesign the form of the cinnamon bun.

“The taste is perfect,” said Bergström. “There’s no need to change that. But it’d be fun to have a new design now and then. The pictures of the winning designs will be released next week.”

Cinnamon buns are not the only food so impeccably Swedish that they are celebrated in Sweden with their very own day. Fat Tuesday is irrevocably associated with semlor, and Waffle Day is always March 25th.

But here at The Local we wondered – how many of these Swedish “traditional” foods actually have their origins in Sweden? We did some sleuthing and found out. Even two of the key ingredients in the beloved cinnamon buns have travelled a long way to get here… Check out the gallery where we reveal the true origins of seven popular Swedish foods.

The Local/Solveig Rundquist

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DISCOVER SWEDEN

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.

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