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What exactly is 'Lucia' (or rather, who was Saint Lucia...!)?
If you are wondering about what happens on the 13th December in Sweden, check out this funny film about Lucia:
Halloween is becoming a more and more popular event here - Swedes do love a chance to get dressed up and play/party! 10 years ago, there was nothing!
According to Wikipedia, around 40% of Swedes now celebrate it. Each year, we see more trick-o-treating going on and children's parties organised. So far, we've only seen the good side - no nasty treats given out, no tricking or misuse of costumes for vandalism or burglary.
However, if you want trick o'treaters, you better make it very clear. Don't expect visitors unless you have lights and decorations outside and even then, they may not come unless they know you. We put out a lit pumpkin and balloons.
Alla Helgons Dag is always the Saturday following the 31st October and is a holiday day so many small shops will be closed and shopping centres limited hours. It is easy to confuse it with 'Allhelgonadagen' which is the 1st November and is not a holiday.
All Saints' Weekend
This weekend, we remember those who have died. Graves are decorated with flowers and lit candles to light up the dark between All Saints' Day (Saturday) and All Souls' Day (Sunday). It is usual to walk around the church graveyards and cemeteries, which look spectacular, all lit up. There are special services to remember those who have died in the past year.
Do you plan to celebrate Halloween this year? Or have an special traditions to bring with you? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or tag us in your photos!
Now that we only have a couple of weeks left until Fettisdagen (Shrove Tuesday), this seems to be just the perfect time to share with you a recipe and instructions on how to bake your own semlor!
If you live in Sweden, surely you must have noticed these magnificent creamy buns on display at your local bakery or grocery store already, (the Swedish population of 10 million buys and eats around six million semlor every Shrove Tuesday!).
If you don’t yet live in Sweden, you will have to try this special treat at home. In fact, no matter where you live, if you have not made your own semlor before, take this chance to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself, because even though the bakery made buns are to die for, they will most certainly never be as fun as homemade semlor.
This recipe that we have found for you, will teach you how to perfectly bake the traditional Swedish cardamom bun, how to mix together the sweet almond paste filling and last but not least, top it all with fluffy whipped cream and dusty icing sugar.
Once you have mastered the traditional semla, you can allow yourself to get more creative and inventive with your pastries. Try to play around with different fillings, flavours and shapes. We have over the past few years seen out-of-the-box ideas such as semmelwraps, semlor with Nutella filling or licorice-flavoured marzipan.
Last year bakeries introduced the Princess semla, a merge between a classic Princess pastry and semla. A truly holy union for all adventurous seeking cream bun munchers out there! This year, the latest Stockholm invention is a Mexican influenced nacho plate, featuring pieces of flat, triangular bread to dip in cream and almond paste.
But before you dive into all that, let’s start with the basics. Time to get ready for the best fika of the year!
Recipe makes 16-24 buns
2/3 cup of melted butter
1 1/2 cups warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F, 20-25 C)
1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
5 ounces marzipan
2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
First of all, whisk together eggs with butter and milk in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow for mix to soften for 5 minutes. While waiting, sift together 5 cups flour with 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and ground cardamom. When the yeast has softened, stir flour mixture into milk mixture until a soft dough forms. Cover bowl with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, sift together flour and baking powder. Stir into risen dough, then knead until smooth. Form into 16 balls (or 24 if you'd like smaller semlor) and place onto greased baking sheets. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 35 to 40 minutes.
Turn oven on and preheat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Buns should be golden brown and the center should be firm. Let the buns cool down on a wire rack until they reach room temperature.
Make a lid by cutting a slice about 1/2 inch thick off of the top of the bun. Use a spoon to scoop out the center of the buns, leaving a shell about 1/2 inch thick. Crumble the removed bread into small pieces and place into a bowl. Moisten the bread with milk, then mix in marzipan until smooth. Add additional milk if needed until the marzipan filling is nearly as soft as pudding.
Whip cream with 2 tablespoons sugar to stiff peaks. Fill each bun’s shell with a spoonful of marzipan filling. Place whipped cream on top of the filling to 1/2 inch over the top of the bun. Replace the tops onto the buns, and dust with icing sugar before serving.
Serve as is with a cup of coffee, or place the bun in a bowl with warm milk and ground cinnamon (this variant is known as hetvägg).
This recipe was provided by Justin Williams and Allrecipes.com. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/139232/semlor-semla/
To find out all there is to know about semlor, click here for our free guide.
Bakeries at this time of year try to make the best semlor - cream and marzipan buns - but some decide to fiddle with the recipe. Over the years, we have seen semlor covered in real gold, semlor smoothies, semlor wraps.
The Göteborg Post has found a supermarket in Vessigebro (south west Sweden) with a new variety for this year. These delectable-looking treats are filled with Nutella, cream, sliced banana and meringue. Sweet but sound very yummy!
What is your favourite semla? To find out all there is to know about semlor, click here for our free guide.
Not that the date matters - they are in the shops already...!
For those of you who would like to know more about the sticky cream-filled buns that are supposed to be consumed on Shrove Tuesday (Fettisdagen) but now you can get for at least a month in advance, check out our guide to them (and the all-important instructions for how to eat them):
Should you be spending an evening in the company of Swedes and alcohol, they might suddenly demand you sing. This is especially likely if it is midsummer, Easter, new years eve etc. To make sure you are ready and in tune (well, at least know the words), below are the words to 'Helan går' and Will Ferrell not singing it terribly well.
Important point number 1 - you are supposed to drink the whole glass full down in one go
Important point number 2 - if you need to be able to speak and/or stand up at any point afterwards, don't drink the whole glass full down in one go
Important point number 3 - aquavit is extremely strong so you will cough the first few times, even if you sip it.
We are not really sure why...but baker Magnus Johansson has created a semla with a price tag of around 900kr. Around, because it has to be $101 to beat the price of one in New York. Watch food blogger Johan Hedberg taste-test it here and find out more on their Facebook page.
Each winter, someone usually comes up with a new form of the Shrove Tuesday buns - semlor. Last year, it got turned into a drink! Here is a film about it (in Swedish but not rally necessary to understand the talking). Let us know if you've tried it!
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About the blog
Interesting bits and pieces about life in Sweden, including all-important song words.