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.
1. When it snows – it pours
Winter weather is discussed often in Sweden. The fact is, snow is pretty well dealt here. There are systems in place for getting it off the road to temporary storage points and then moving it from the temporary storage points to permanent storage points. When this system works, which it does almost all the time, all is well.
However, when a larger-than-expected amount of snow decides to show up, things do break down. Please bear in mind that this is not the same as the few flakes of snow that fall in the UK and everything grinds to a halt. We are talking extra, unexpected meters of snow here!
Plows and tractors will be in much demand and roads are cleared in priority order, which means that residential side-streets can get clogged up with snow. You should be prepared for situations like these though they should be few and far between.
2. It's not the temperature that decides how cold it is – it's the moisture in the air
This is something you will learn intuitively, we certainly have. At -16 degrees Celsius, you will often feel warmer than at -1 degrees Celsius. Strange but true, in our option! Lower temperatures drive the moisture out of the air and keep the snow frozen. Warmer temperatures thaw the snow, releasing moisture into the air and this is when you might start to feel chilly. When it is around freezing, you’## find gloves and scarves help.
3. Make sure that the name on your ID matches the name on post your receive
Anything bigger than your post box flap will sent directly to your local pick up point, which is often in the local supermarket, with convenient and long opening hours. In most cases, you will have to provide ID in order for the clerk to give the mail to you. Here there can be a problem. Let's say you have a nickname that's not on your ID. If the mail happens to be addressed to your nickname, the clerk may not give you the mail. It unfortunately depends on how picky the clerk is but many of us have had problems with it, so it's something you should keep in mind.
4. The Swede is informal – even in a formal setting
You will notice this quickly, especially if you compare it to the American style of customer service. You can expect all manner of emotive responses from store clerks and administrative personnel if you complain about something, although they will almost always speak quietly. The customer is not always right here.
5. There is a right answer, just like there is a right way to do everything
Swedish culture dictates that there is a right way to do most things and therefore most people will do things that way. If you push Swedes to answer awkward questions, you may see them try to find that 'right' answer too.
If you'd like help with your move to Sweden or even to Danderyd, join our membership group. We help our members get settled in. Fast.
It is easy to confuse the very formal, organised Swedish state with the very informal nature of society. Being new here almost guarantees you’ll get them confused at some point! Here are eight things you can do that should help you avoid the most common mistakes:
2. Never forget to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home
Shoes are strictly worn outside and in certain public settings. For instance, if you happen to find yourself in court – do NOT remove your shoes. However, if you're in a library or hospital, you will notice that certain areas are no shoe zones. Look out for helpful signs and strange blue plastic things in baskets on the floor – they are for covering your shoes with if you don’t want to take them off.
3. Avoid chivalry
If you happen to be male, maybe even a southern gentleman and decide to hold the door for some unsuspecting woman, she might consider it to be an insult. Sweden has come a long way when it comes to gender equality and the current generation of young to middle aged women do not want to be treated differently at all. However, holding doors and offering to help someone who is carrying something (especially a buggy) is fine.
4. Expect to use on-line banking
Physical banks are becoming a thing of the past in Sweden and cash is disappearing. Do not expect to receive much service even if your bank happen to have such a location and do not expect them to handle cash, except if it is coming out of an ATM. Getting used to on-line banking will help you.
5. Don’t judge Swedes by your first impression
One of our resident Swedes says: “Swedes are like coconuts – hard shells with fluid insides. Sort of.” You may well notice that when talking to a Swede that you don’t know that the person usually reacts to your communication with a perplexed look. That's just the Swedish default mode. Keep on talking and you'll see them relax and get into the swing of chattering.
6. Don’t think that people expect you to understand tradition
Things such as surströmming, nubbe and crayfish are sometimes presented as being part of mythical traditions that must be dealt with in accordance with strict regulations. Not even swedes know how to deal with crayfish and most of them hate nubbe. Go with the flow, it's not an exam.
7. Avoid riding your bicycle on the side walk
Doing this is actually illegal, unless the pavement has a sign marking its dual nature. It will also awaken the rage of the Swede, causing some seriously angry looks to be hurled your way.
8. ...and don’t walk on the bicycle path
This is just dangerous. Let's say you're walking in the bicycle path and a bike rider turns a corner and hits you. You will be to blame. Even to the point of being responsible for paying his or her medical bills. It's called negligence and the Swedes don't mess around. Plus it will hurt.
If you now have even more questions about life in Sweden, get in touch with us :)
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About the blog
Interesting bits and pieces about life in Sweden, including all-important song words.