Trying and rating Swedish sweet cream puffs: Semla!


Written by Nana

13 Feb 2024

Is it time for a Semla? No, it is not a question; it is a demand (at least if you are Swedish 😉)! Today is “Fettisdagen,” also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, and it is a tradition to eat “semla,” a scrumptious bun stuffed with almond paste and whipped cream. And on this special day, me and my friends decided to try it for the first time and rate our sweet experience!

But first, let’s dive a bit into the history of semla (or semlor in plural), because it is as rich in flavour as in centuries-old tradition. Originating as a pre-Lenten or pre-Easter treat, semla –derived from the Latin word “simila,” which means fine flour, marked one last chance for indulgence before the fasting season began. Imagine these warm milk-soaked wheat buns being enjoyed by mediaeval Swedes, who would have relished each mouthful before the holy season hit. That’s why it is called Fat Tuesday, an excuse to indulge in these scrumptious treats and celebrate the approaching spring.

You can read more about Semla tradition in this blogpost by Lauren.

'Semlor' or semla buns on display at a Swedish pastry shop.
They are looking so pretty and delicious, it’s unreal! //Photo: Nana

Now, let’s fast forward to modern-day Sweden, and my own Semla Day experience with my classmates, so it’s a bunch of international students in Sweden! And et voila, here’s our verdict of the semla whirlwind of powdered sugar and fun:

Nathalie, from Luxembourg: Semla is ★★★★☆
“So fluffy, the cream is really good. A little bit too rich for my taste with the whipped cream and almond paste but I enjoyed the experience. Would 100% recommend everyone to try!”

Merle, from Germany: Semla is ★★★★☆
“The combination is very soft, very velvety. I can understand why so many people are hyping them up! It is sooo delicious, but there is just one small thing that I feel can make it better. The taste if very rich and kind of heavy, so a bit of lemon zest or a hint of citrus would balance it out and make it chef’s kiss perfect.”

International students seated at a 'konditori' or pastry shop with semla buns and other pastries.
Look at those smiley faces 🙂 //Photo: Nana

Sabrina, from Indonesia: Semla is ★★★☆☆
“It is quite good, but for me it is not too special. It is so full of whipped cream, very very extra milky, but I feel like the bread is a bit dry. The almond paste is nice, but I don’t really dig it. Yet I am glad I tried it.”

Shani, from Taiwan: Semla is ★★★☆☆
“It looks so cute like a dessert hamburger. I like it!”

An international student, wrapped in a cozy sweater, smiles in anticipation at a semla bun in a quaint café setting.
Find me someone who looks at me like the way Shani looks at this semla. //Photo: Nana

Florina, from Romania: ★★☆
“The bread and cream are nice, but I feel like this type of dough would be better to go with something savoury, not sweet. It’s also a bit difficult to eat because it’s very thick. I would recommend people to try them, but it’s not quite for me.”

And me Nana, from Indonesia: Semla is ★★★☆☆
“Very soft and nutty, fluffy and creamy, but it’s too sweet for my taste. I kind of agree with Merle that it would be better to balance it out with some lemon taste.”

Slicing the good yummy stuff! //GIF: Nana

And those are our first impressions! But I really recommend that –whether you’re a seasoned Swede or a curious newcomer like me, don’t miss the chance to partake in the festivities of Semla Day. It’s a celebration of indulgence and the sweet joys of life, all wrapped up in a delightful little bun.

How about you? Have you tried semla? Do you like it? Let’s share your experience in the comment section!

Tills nästa gång (until next time),


Written by Nana

13 Feb 2024