Glad Semmeldagen! I am not sure if it would be a proper blog about Sweden if I didn’t have yet another post talking about a specific pastry. I am very much loving the Swedish concept of fika and the delicious variety of pastries that all Swedish cafes have to offer, so I find extra joy in the seasonal pastries that I am discovering over my time here. One pastry in particular that has a special place in my heart is the large Nordic creampuff, as it reminds me of my time in Iceland (and will now remind me of my time in Sweden). Obviously, there are a lot of similarities between the Nordic countries in their culture and how they are run. However, I feel as though there haven’t been as many concepts that I experience that I can identify as just Nordic. Many of the special Swedish and Icelandic overlaps that I have seen are also found in other European countries (especially Germany), so it doesn’t feel as unique. I may be wrong, but the creampuffs are one concept that feels specifically Nordic and I am really enjoying learning about. 

In Iceland, they celebrate the Monday before Fat Tuesday as Bolludagur (cream puff day). This was one of the most amazing holidays that my family fell in love with, and we now keep up the tradition back in the US. In Sweden, they don’t have a special day for cream puffs, but they actually started making these giant cream puffs on Fat Tuesday. Technically, Fat Tuesday can also be called Semmel Day in Sweden, so it could be the equivalent of the Icelandic Bolludagur.

The pastries are known as semla, and are a slightly different consistency than normal creampuffs. Originally, they were a special type of roll that Scandinavians would serve in milk. However, the Swedes decided to add a layer of an almond flavored mix to them as well as the cream middle because they were bored with the plain bread. This has now developed into the special seasonal pastry that can be seen at every cafe in the month leading up to Fat Tuesday. It is also a special flavor that seems to take over the country, and you can purchase semla flavored coffee drinks and cookies and ice cream. There are many debates over the best semla recipe and concoction. One of the most famous was the semla wrap invented a few years ago in Stockholm. Burger King even offers a semla burger, though I don’t think that one is sticking as much as other semla mixes. 

Not only am I getting to enjoy eating these delicious pastries, I am very lucky that a friend wanted to try making them and invited me to join. It was a long process but very fun and delicious! While I am super glad that I learned how to make these (and getting to make this traditional Swedish pastry has added to my perfect Swedish weekends), this is a recipe I will be trepidatious bringing home. The Nordics are very similar in a lot of ways, but there are some differences between their foods and culture. Iceland’s bollur are much more similar to creampuffs than Sweden’s semlor (these are heartier bread buns). I love both, as they both hold special places in my heart and memory of time in these spectacular countries. However, I think my family is very partial to the delicate creampuff consistency of Icelandic bollur. I am a bit worried to bring this recipe home, as I can imagine that they will be disappointed in the difference. I suppose that a good solution will be to celebrate both Bolludagur and Semmeldagen, as they are on different days. Who can really complain about having two different pastry days in a row? 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s