Good day my beloved foodies out there. I’m sure you are wondering where to get THE best semla in Stockholm during this season. Well, being a devoted food blogger and avid glutton, I embarked upon a tour to a few of the best bakeries and cafés in town to find out for myself.
First things first, what is a semla? It is probably the most beloved and awaited pastry in Sweden, and it consists of a cardamom flavored bun, sugary almond filling and topped off with whipped cream.
It does sound simple but trust me -not that you don’t know this anyway- it is damn good.
While doing research before writing this post, I came across many recipes with different proportions of the ingredients. So in order to be specific and educational, I summed up the process of making in 3 stages.
First is the baking of the bun, consisting of flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt, butter, eggs and cardamom.
Then comes the filling, consisting of predominantly of pealed almonds, sugar (regular and powdered), vanilla-flavored sugar, cardamom, whipped cream and sometimes water.
Last but not least comes the abundant whipped cream that crowns the whole pastry.
And for a bit of extra gluttony a bit of powdered sugar is sprinkled on.
“A dream made into a pastry” is what a baker told me. And gosh he is so right.
Semla is absolutely delicious and addictive. Besides having the excuse of this tour, I have indulged in the conservative amount of 15 semlor (plural for semla in Swedish). I have probably gained a couple of kilos, but hey, I ain’t no fitness blogger…
So let’s get right on to the tour that, as if wasn’t enough, will continue. So this post will be updated at least a couple of times.
Systrarna Andersson Café
Proudly proclaiming that their semla ranks as a top 5 in town (although the owner tells me it is actually in the top 3), this version is glorious and perfect in every single aspect of the pastry.
The bun is delicate, soft, airy and sweet enough. The filling is pure luxury made with almonds of the highest quality and balanced perfectly with the sugar and cardamom. The whipped cream is, well, fantastic every single time.
Bröd & Salt
One of my favorite bakeries in town, always offering baked goods of the highest quality and flavor.
What makes their semla outstand is, according to their bakery master, the luxury almond paste used in the process.
When tasting it, one can fill the perfect and pure flavor of the almonds. To compliment this, the bun has a pronounced cardamom flavor. The whipped cream is also another key element of their semla, because it has to be perfect. It has to have THE perfect airiness and texture, otherwise it won’t be sold.
A cute and somehow discrete café in the heart of Kungsholmen, that is rapidly gaining faithful patrons due to the quality of its offer.
Their semla is glorious. It’s so good that I promised myself that I wasn’t going to finish one by myself. My friend made the same promise, but after 5 minutes we both were fighting over the other one.
Their strongest point is the almond filling. Lisa, the baker at Vasatorget, explained that they sort of sauté the almonds slowly on a pan. What heat does is concentrate and emphasize the flavor of the final product. I found this very interesting and it clearly differentiates the taste to other semlor.
Yet another of my favorite bakeries in Stockholm. Surprisingly, their semla was not as good as I expected it to be.
It was delicious, yes, but it definitely wasn’t as outstanding as the others.
The bun felt too doughy, so it doesn’t match the creaminess of the almond paste and the airiness of the whipped cream, both soft and delicate textures.
I followed VisitStockholm.com guide to the semla and payed an overdue visit to this classic café in Östermalm.
Their semla was good enough and also not as amazing as the others.
The bun felt a bit plain for me, so 33.3% of the experience started with the wrong foot. The almond paste was very delicious and special, with almond bits that provided a textural component to the bites. The whipped cream was also properly executed and rich.
All in all, this tour has been a repetition of similar flavors but with their own particularities depending on each café.
It has been a sweet roller coaster of flavors and I had to get off before I got a sugar overdose, haha.
Semla IS a dream come true, it is perfection made into a pastry and it’s one of the reasons the cold and dark winter seems less hard for us living in Sweden.
I guess there is no perfect or best semla, but I gotta say that the ones that stand out are because they found the balance between the bun, the almond filling and the heavy cream.
They were all delicious and I highly encourage you to go to these and as many cafés as you possibly can while the season lasts -it disappears after Easter.
Special thanks to these 5 cafés and bakeries for the semlor that I tried, they were amazing and I can’t wait to come back and keep eating more.
And as I said, I will be trying more semlor in the city, so I’m all ears for your recommendations.
Thanks for reading me. Now go grab a semla!