Fettisdagen: Swedish Masterchef Sofia Henriksson's must-try semla recipe

By Sofia Henriksson

Photo: Sofia Henriksson

It's one of the most indulgent days on the Scandi calendar. Here's how to make it even more delicious

The day we’ve all been waiting for is here, or at least if you ask me. It’s the beloved day of the semla. The famous Swedish pastry with a soft cardamom bun filled with crunchy almond paste, mandelmassa, and topped with soft whipped cream. 47 days before Easter, we Swedes celebrate Fettisdagen (roughly translated as 'fat Tuesday') – a day to fill up before fasting. The tradition dates back to the back to the Middle Ages, but the ‘semla’ came in to our lives the year 1594. The tradition of the Fastlagsbulle exists in all of Scandinavia but the bun looks a bit different depending which country you are in. Here's my recipe for the best Swedish one:



The buns
25 g fresh yeast
125 ml cold milk
1 egg
100 g butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon flake salt
1 dl sugar
5 1/2 dl wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

The mandelmassa
150 g almonds
1 dl sugar
1 dl of milk
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cardamom

3 dl whipping cream
Icing sugar as topping


  1. Crumble the yeast and dissolve with the milk. Add sugar, salt, cardamom and egg. Stir gently.
  2. Mix flour with baking powder and pour in half of the mix. Stir and pour in the remaining flour and butter. Knead into an elastic and fine dough.
  3. Rest for 10 minutes and in the meantime roast the almonds for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius in the oven.
  4. Make the dough into smaller buns and leave to rise on an oven plate for 90 minutes.
  5. Mix 100 g of the almonds with the other ingredients for the mandelmassa. Mix and taste! Roughly chop up the rest of the almonds. Put aside.
  6. Whip the cream lightly. Turn over and place in a plastic bag, ready to pipe.
  7. Cut out the lid for the semla and fill with mandelmassa, pipe over the cream and top of with the lid and icing sugar.