The hybrid cake mixes the semla bun, a seasonal speciality packed with cream and almond paste, with nachos, a meal that might not be historically Swedish but has been adopted by the Scandinavian nation, where many families sit down for a dinner of tacos every Friday night. Award-winning chef Roy Fares cooked up the delicacy at his Stockholm patisserie Mr Cake, where customers can sample the nachosemla.
“In Sweden, some people are prepared to kill anyone who touches the semla,” Fares joked. But he says customers have been “pleasantly surprised” with his innovative version, and some have told him they even prefer it to the classic recipe.
“Some people don’t want to eat the whole big bun; they just want the paste inside,” he explained to The Local. “When I have a semla, I always take the top off, and dip it in the cream and almond paste, and it’s similar to how when you eat tacos, you dip the chips in guacamole. So I thought, why not combine two traditions in one: the semla and the taco, old and new?”
Pastry chef Roy Fares. Photo: Wolfgang Kleinschmidt
Sticklers for tradition should be reassured that the baker used the same cream and dough in the new take on the semla. This means it has a similar taste to the original but is simply made in a different way, with triangular slices of dough to dip in the filling.
The semla bun is traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, offering sweet-toothed Swedes a final chance to indulge before Lent. It is also linked to the day because of a legend stating that in 1771, King Adolf Fredrik died on what in Sweden is called ‘Fat Tuesday’ after a heavy meal topped off with 14 servings of sticky semlor.
Despite this infamy, the cake is so beloved that it starts filling up bakery shelves from shortly after Christmas, which marks the start of ‘semla season’.
This Instagram user said the cake “exceeded expectations”.
Fares isn’t the first baker to create a sweet-savoury mash-up of Sweden’s favourite foods. In December, one fast food restaurant created a ‘Lucia kebab’, a hybrid meal of the saffron bun traditionally eaten on Lucia Day in mid-December and kebab meat. That meal was inspired by newsagent Pressbyrån’s Lucia hot dog, a sausage served in a saffron bun and topped optionally with ketchup and mustard.
And another take on the semla was launched last year, when a pastry chef combined the treat with the traditional marzipan prinsesstårta, creating a hybrid which provoked strong reactions from customers.