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Semlor buns

The history of Semlor buns

Tender buns with a hint of cardamom, filled with almond cream and topped with a delicious peanut ganache.

The Swedish buns called semlor have an origin that dates back several centuries in Swedish tradition. These delicious buns are a type of pastry filled with a mixture of almond paste and whipped cream, topped with powdered sugar. Their consumption is especially associated with the celebration of “Semmeldagen” (Shrove Tuesday), which takes place on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent in Sweden.

The origin of semlor dates back to the 16th century or even earlier. Initially, the buns did not have the same appearance and filling as today's semlor. Originally, they were simple buns eaten without any filling, often served dipped in milk. Over time, the tradition evolved, and they began to be filled with different ingredients, including almond paste and whipped cream.

Legend has it that King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (1710-1771) was a great lover of semlor and played a part in popularizing them among the Swedish high society. It is said that on a particularly gluttonous occasion, the king consumed several semlor and a large amount of milk on Shrove Tuesday in 1771. This excessive meal allegedly contributed to his subsequent death, as it caused severe digestive issues. Since then, this historical episode has been referred to as the “Fat Tuesday” of semlor (Semmeldagen).

Semlor buns

Today, semlor are highly cherished delicacies in Sweden during the Lenten season, and many bakeries showcase them in their displays during this time. The semlor recipe has endured and been passed down through generations, becoming an essential part of Swedish culinary culture. Swedes enjoy semlor throughout the Lenten period, and they have become a traditional and delightful symbol of this religious festivity.

The popularity of semlor has extended beyond Swedish borders and gained international recognition. During the Lenten season, it is common to see tourists visiting Sweden indulging in these delicious buns. Additionally, many Swedish communities abroad also celebrate “Semmeldagen”, keeping the tradition alive in different parts of the world.

Semlor have undergone some variations over the years, with some bakeries and cooks experimenting with new ingredients and presentations. However, the essence of this exquisite bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream remains deeply rooted in Swedish culture. Whether during Lent or any time of the year, semlor continue to delight both Swedes and visitors alike, and their legacy will endure as one of Sweden's most beloved culinary delights.