A traditional, delicious Swedish treat

The Semla is more than just a bun…

A small, wheat flour bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream, the Semla has become something quite iconic in Sweden.

The traditions of the 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 (known as hetvägg) and then, at some point, Swedes grew tired of the strict observance of Lent, added cream and almond paste to the mix and started eating Semlas every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter.

There are many variants to the original with new recipes appearing in numerous foodie magazines etc every year, from the bizarre to the ridiculous, but why mess too much with something that needs little improvement!

Our wonderful recipe writer, cook, stylist and photographer, Liselotte Forslin, shares with us here her take on the classic Semla recipe using rapeseed oil as a healthier option to butter, wholewheat spelt flour and the addition of grated carrots - ENJOY!



Makes approx 25 delicious small buns

For the buns:

100 ml rapeseed oil

300 ml whole milk or plant based alternative

25 g fresh yeast

2 tsp ground cardamom seeds

1/2 tsp salt

100 g caster sugar

320 g white spelt flour

120 g wholemeal spelt flour

1 large carrot grated

1 egg, beaten to glaze

For the filing:

200 g best quality marzipan

Bun centres, crumbled

100 ml whole milk

1/2 vanilla pod

600 ml whipping cream


Set Oven to 225 c

Mix the oil and milk in a small pan and heat gently to 37 c

Crumble the yeast into a large bowl and add the cardamom followed by the milk mixture and stir until the yeast has melted. Add the sugar and salt and most of the flour (keep a little for rolling out) then add the grated carrot and bring together to form a dough. Knead for 20- 25 minutes by hand or whole process can be done in a mixer with dough attachment and kneaded for approx 15 minutes.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, leave in a warm spot and allow the dough to double in size. This can take an hour +

Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface, bring gently together and divide into 25 pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Allow to rise for 30 minutes or so until doubled in size then brush each with the beaten egg.

Bake in the centre of the oven for approx 8 minutes until golden and cooked through. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cold cut each one in half and carefully extract the doughy insides.

Grate the marzipan and, using a fork, mix together with the crumbled bun centres, milk and seeds from the vanilla pod to form a paste.

Gently whip the cream.

Divide the marzipan mixture between the buns and top with the whipped cream followed by the bun lids.

Sieve a little icing sugar over the buns and enjoy.



Liselotte Forslin
Food writer and recipe creator / Food stylist / Cook book author


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