The Semla and Semmeldagen

February 20, 2017 • 2 min read

If you’ve done your research on Swedish fika, you might have stumbled up on the Semla. It’s the traditional sweet roll that even has it’s own day in Sweden. 

Semla is a sort of pastry made by light wheat bread, filled with whipped cream and almond paste. In Sweden it’s often spiced with cardamom and icing sugar powdered on the the bread top. Every year in February, a special “Semmeldag” takes place in the calendar, 2017 it’s on the 28th of February. This originates from the past, when semlor only was eaten on Fettisdagen (Shrove Tuesday) in Sweden. Later the tradition of fasting stopped in Sweden and now it has it’s own day instead. Today you can practically buy a semla in a Swedish bakery from december ’til Easter, but a few still wait until the official Semmeldag to have their first for the year. The last few years, the semla has evolved in Sweden. Bakers and chefs all over the country are trying to make the most “crazy” semla possible; we’ve had everything from semmel-wraps to semmel-pizzas, hot-dog semla and semmel-donuts…

It is said that King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (reigned 1751 – 1771) died of digestion problems. He had consumed a very luxurious meal of caviar, lobster, smoked herring, sauerkraut and he swallowed it down with champagne. The meal was topped of by 14 semlor, his favorite dessert.