fettisdagen, fat tuesday in sweden, semla and semlor

The Swedish Semla; Celebrate Shrove Tuesday the Scandi way!

  • 7 years ago
  • Views : 2125
  • Ellen Ripa

It’s that time of year when we see Easter eggs popping up in supermarkets everywhere. Two months away from Easter, it does seem a bit early – but we’re all guilty of sneaking that premature crème egg or two! What isn’t so long away is Shrove Tuesday! It falls on the 28th Feb this year, and is an excuse to eat lots of yummy sweet food before Lent begins.

In Sweden, Shrove Tuesday is called ‘Fettisdagen’ – aptly named as it literally translates as ‘Fat Tuesday’! No hiding the truth with the Swedes! The main treat of choice is called a ‘ Semla (or ‘Semlor’ if you want more than one!) – a gorgeously rich cardamom-spiced bun cut in half and filled with whipped cream.  Topped with a dusting of icing sugar, they are perfect with a morning coffee for Fika!

Traditionally they are served with warm milk, and to this day some Swedes still love their Semlor this way! If you’re in London and looking for a sweet fix, check out this post from Marjan Focus with the top places to find Semlor in the capital city!

We’ve found a recipe for Swedish Semlor from Scandinavian kitchen, read on to make your own:

Swedish Semlor Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour   

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 1 hour 10 mins    

Serves: 12


  • 25g fresh yeast (or 12g active dry yeast)
  • 80g melted butter
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Approximately 300-400g plain bread flour
  • ½ egg for brushing
  • Filling:
  • 100g Marzipan
  • A good dollop of custard or crème pâtisserie
  • 500ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
  • Icing sugar to dust



  1. If using mixer, set it up with the dough hook attachment. Melt the butter and add the milk, ensuring a lukewarm temperature of around 37-38ºC. Add the fresh yeast and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add the ½ egg (preserve the other half for brushing before baking).
  3. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated and then start to add more of the flour, bit by bit, until you have a dough that is only a little bit sticky. Take care not to add too much flour: you will get dry buns. Knead the dough for at least five minutes in the mixer, longer by hand. Leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place until doubled in size (30-40 min).
  4. Turn the dough out to a floured surface. Knead again for a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Take care that the balls are completely round and uniform in size. Place on baking tray with good spacing between buns. Leave to rise for another 25-30 minutes.
  5. Gently brush each bun with the remainder of the egg wash and bake in a hot oven (200ºC) for about 8-10 minutes or until baked through – keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and cover the tray with a lightly damp tea towel immediately – this will prevent the buns from forming a crust.
  6. When the buns have cooled down completely, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1½ cm from the top. Scoop out about ⅓ of the inside of the bun and place crumbs in a separate bowl.
  7. Mix the almond paste with the crumb until it forms a very sticky mass –add a dash of milk, custard or crème pâtisserie at this point to help it along. You want a spoonable, even mixture. Spoon the filling back into the buns, equally divided. Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar and marzipan until stiff and use a piping bag to pipe cream on all the buns’ tops. Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust with icing sugar.