The food that we enjoy at religious festivals and other celebrations is often rooted in tradition, from hot cross buns at Easter to mince pies at Christmas. Every country and culture has traditional dishes that are made to celebrate a particular occasion. What often makes these dishes even more special is that they are usually only eaten for a limited period.
You may not have come across these cardamom-scented, almond and cream-filled buns before, unless you have been lucky enough to visit Sweden at this time of year. Traditionally, semla used to only be baked on Fettisdagen or Shrove Tuesday in Sweden, as a last celebratory feast before Lent. Due to their popularity, there is now such a demand for them that the Swedes enjoy them from the end of the Christmas season until Easter. Semla are taken so seriously that as soon as they appear in bakeries, Swedish newspapers start serious tasting tests to find the best in town.
The good news is that you don’t need to travel to Sweden to try semla, they are quite easy to make at home. Fresh yeast is available at supermarkets now, but if you have a friendly bakery nearby they will often happily sell some to you for a few pence. These little buns are best eaten on the day they are made, but somehow I doubt that will be a problem.
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