A traditional Swedish recipe – how to make “semlor”

Once again it’s Shrove Tuesday here in the UK, which means in Sweden it’s time for “Fettisdag”, or “Fat Tuesday”. Last year’s blog on this subject resulted in a flood of enquiries asking how to make this delicious Swedish bun, so this year, here is the recipe for semla. Everyone has their own variation on how to make a Swedish semla (plural semlor), and competition is fierce in local communities to find the tastiest, but this recipe should get you started.

See how the finished product should look here.

For those of you unfamiliar with this important piece of Swedish culture, you may like to start by reading our previous blog article on Swedish semlor and fettisdag. If you’re already suitably versed in Swedish baking traditions, it’s time to proceed to the kitchen……


To make a dozen Swedish semlor, you will need:

  • 25g of yeast
  • 75g of margarine or butter
  • 200ml of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of cardamom
  • 500ml of sugar
  • 700ml of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder


For the filling and topping, you will also need:

  • Roughly grated almond paste
  • Whipping cream
  • Milk
  • Icing sugar

How to make a semla:

  • First, melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan, add the milk and head until lukewarm.
  • Crumble the yeast into a bowl, and add some of the liquid to dissolve the yeast.
  • Add the remaining liquid, plus the salt, cardamom, 1 egg, sugar and 600ml of the flour.
  • Work the mixture together into a dough.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave the dough to rise for around 30 minutes.
  • Mix together and work into a dough, a kitchen-machine makes this easy.
  • Mix together the baking powder and remaining flour and work into the dough. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth.
  • Separate dough into maximum 12 round balls.
  • Lightly grease some baking sheets, put the buns onto the sheets and allow them to rise for 35-40 minutes.
  • Beat the other egg and use a brush to glaze the tops of the buns.
  • Heat the oven to 250 degrees C and bake the semlor in the middle for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the buns with a cloth and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  • Before eating your semlor:
  • Cut a circular “lid” off the top of each bun. Use a spoon to scoop out the inside of the bun.
  • Mix together the grated almond paste with the inside of the bun, add milk to make a smooth mixture and use this mixture to fill the hole.
  • Whip the cream and spoon the cream on top of the bun filling.
  • Replace the lid of the bun and decorate with icing sugar.

Semlor are wonderful to eat at any time of year, but for a real Swedish winter experience, nothing beats a freshly-baked semla consumed in the snow while warming your hands on a hot cup of freshly-brewed coffee!

Good luck with making semlor, and a very happy Fat Tuesday!

Best regards

The Nature Travels Team

Nature Travels offers a wide variety of outdoor ecotourism experiences in Sweden, from wilderness canoeing to dog sledding expeditions. For ideas of what to do in Sweden in February, please see our website at www.naturetravels.co.uk/sweden-holidays-february.htm

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.