Field study: Stockholm’s Semlor and How They Perform
By: xxx Published: d/m/Y
Semlor: It’s a Swedish and Scandinavian treat. Pastries. Cardmomme bun. Served with almond paste. Whipped cream. Powdered sugar. There are a few different kinds in Scandinavia though. They go by fastelavn or semlor. If you evert. The traditions of semla are rooted in Fettisdag (Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday) when the buns were eaten at a last celebratory feast before the Christian fasting period of Lent. At first, a semla was simply a bun, eaten soaked in hot milk (In Swedish: hetvägg, translating to hot wall. Don’t ask.)
It’s 21st of February 2023. Fettisdagen which literally means “fat Tuesday” is a religious celebration anchored in history. It was the way of starting the fast before easter, but today for many, it’s mainly just a reason to stuff your face with deliciousness.
Call it what you want. Name any reason you’d like. Religion or not. Traditions are important for people. If it’s eating baked goods on holidays or to where pink every Wednesday. We can mock it all we want, but we need things to look forward to. It gives us a break in the everyday life and a reason to enjoy small things. And by celebrating old religious days or giving a specific meal an international day. Every day can be a celebration.
But, back to business.
Is it possible to have too many semlor? The group is divided. You’re either the one enjoying the moment and having plenty of pastries before the 21st (me) or do you think the pastry has a specific date, time, and place? This is an important, and almost religious, question for many. But no matter who you are, we got you covered. The Hobnob team is here ready to guide you through the jungle of Swedish delicious cardamom buns with cream and almond paste.
Yes, we’ve gone out on a field study and tried some of the city’s most talked about semlor. Yes, we’ve stood in stormy weather, cold and long lines to warm bakeries, so you don’t have to. Luckily, we are romantically persuaded. We truly believe there’s one specific semla for everyone out there. We’ve tried Dåndimpens, Ritorno, Svedjan Bageri, Lillebrors bageri, and Stora Bageriet pastries and we weren’t disappointed. (Keep in mind. This is a subjective field investigation and should be read as a personal recommendation. Not facts.)
Presenting: Hobnob’s Big Guide to The Best Semla
A dense bun. Swirly cream. Almond paste, with big chunks of dark-roasted almonds within the paste. You can taste the craftmanship in these buns. It’s worth the visit to the bakery, formally located in Södermalm, but now in an industrial area in Årsta.
A bun that’s perfectly in between moist and dense. It’s a traditional one with a smooth almond past in focus with some chunks of almonds on top. Perfectly whipped cream. So, if you’re in limbo land between preferences. This might be the one for you.
Here you get a taste of traditions within the pastry. An airy bun. Thicker whipped cream in perfect place. An almond paste with chunks of roasted nuts and a pinch of salt (surprisingly delicious)
If Ritorno is tradition, Svedjan does it differentially. The bun is moist. Fluffy cream is placed as a thick layer. Zest of blood orange and chunkier pieces (definitely a trend right now) makes the perfect balanced almond paste. The bun feels homemade with a relaxed appearance but with the flavor never being forsaken.
A bun slightly airier. Almond with shell and citrusy zest in the paste as well. Bigger chunks within the paste as well as on top. Perfectly whipped cream. Overall, a very good semla, who doesn’t disappoint.