Swedish pastries are a big thing in Sweden. As someone with many sweet teeth, one thing I love about Sweden is its “excuses” to always have something sweet between meals. Thanks to its most celebrated tradition, Fika. It seems to me that despite the lagom value, Swedes are quite into cake and pastry; they even have special days to celebrate almost all of them. Here is the timeline for those sweet days.
Written by Hayu Hamemayu
The period between Christmas and Easter is the time for semla. This is one of the top most famous Swedish pastries. A wheat flour bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream, was originally eaten only on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) as the last festive food before Lent. However, as the Swedes stopped observing a strict fasting for Lent, semlor are now available in shops and bakeries every day from shortly after Christmas until Easter.
You can still easily find semla on February because Shrove Tuesday usually falls either on February or March, but this month also has another special day. February 3 is the day of carrot cake.
On March, you have at least two special threats: Punschrullens Dag (punch roll day) on 7th of March and Våffledagen (waffle day) on March 25. Punschrulle is also called dammsugare, which means vacuum cleaner due to its resembling shape of a vacuum cleaner that was common in the 1920s. This pastry is easy to find in any confectionery and is traditionally colored green with chocolate coating in both ends.
For the Waffle Day, it is believed that it comes from a mispronunciation of spring day that has religious roots. Instead of “spring day”, a linguistic mix took place and people began to say “waffle day”. Thus, the tradition of eating waffles with cream and jam arose on March 25.
Sadly, there is no cake related day on this month. Or do you know any?
The first of May is Budapestbakelsens Dag or the Budapest cake day. The Budapest cake consists of a meringue bottom with hazelnuts, filling cream with mandarins and decorated with chocolate. It is a classic Swedish pastry that was created by a pastry chef named Ingvar Strid. According to the stories, Ingvar has traveled extensively and had a love for Budapest and Hungary and named his pastry after the city.
In addition to Budapestbakelsens Dag, May also has Chokladbollens dag (May, 11) Kardemummabulles dag (May, 15) – Swedish cardamom bun day (find the best recipe here) and Muffin dagen (May, 27). Chocolate ball is a very popular snack in Sweden so it deserves to get its own festive day. Although muffins are not really Swedish, they got their own theme day. Another good thing for a sweet tooth like me.
June in Sweden is started with National day in the beginning and midsummer in the end, and there are special cakes for those two occasions. The pastry for national day on June 6 is the Nationaldagsbakelsen pastry with Mazarin bottom topped with strawberries, lemon hint and a Swedish flag. This pastry was created by Helena Bergsmark of Café Gateau in Stockholm and it was the winner of the 1994 national pastry competition held by Fruktrådet (fruit council).
As for midsummer, the celebration is not complete without midsummer strawberry cake or midsommartårta.
There’s no cake or pastry to celebrate in July. But if you were born in this month, you have the excuse to eat Swedish princess cake (prinsesstårta), as it is the traditional birthday cake in Sweden. This is yet another famous Swedish pastry. This dome-shaped cake features a sponge base topped with vanilla cream and whipped cream and coated with a smooth layer of green marzipan and decorated with a pink marzipan rose. Pretty like a princess.
Another cake commonly eaten on birthday, especially in Skåne region is spattekaka, an old-fashioned spit cake made from potato flour. Feel free to choose the cake you want or why don’t you have both? It’s your birthday after all ☺
August 9 is “Rulltårtans Dag” or the rolled cake day. As Budapest is my favourite cake, and it’s a roll, I think I will eat this cake on August 9 too.
Again, there’s no pastry related day this month. But the last week of September is the week dedicated for prinsesstårta. So even if your birthday is not in September, you still have the excuse to eat this pretty cake.
The Swedish cinnamon roll – Kanelbulle – is probably the most famous of pastries and the most consumed fikabröd in Sweden. People eat kanelbulle all year round but the official day to celebrate this sweet bread is on October 4.
Two days later, on October 6, is the time to celebrate another cake. It’s Gräddtårtans Dag, the day for cream layer cake.
November is the month with the most sweets to celebrate. Maybe because November in Sweden is so gloomy so people need more sugar to keep the mood high 😀 . It starts on November 6 with Gustav Adolfsbakelse day and continues just the next day on November 7 with Kladdkakans Dag, the day of Swedish mud cake, followed by Chokladens Dag or chocolate day on November 11. Then Ostkakans Dag or Cheesecake day on November 14. Last but not least, Wienerbrödets Dag, or wiener bread day on November 22. What a special month indeed.
The 9th of December is Pepparkakans Dag, the day of gingerbread. This cookie is actually baked and eaten all year round, but gain its most popularity around Christmas time so it makes sense to have a designated day on this month.
December is also the month of Lussekatter or Lucia saffron bun, which are traditionally eaten on Lucia day (December 13). And finally, a week before Christmas, December 18, is the day of the cakes (Kakans dag). I assume we can eat any cake on this day.
Are there famous Swedish pastries?
About the author
Hayu Hamemayu is a Lund-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Jakarta Post, Media Indonesia, Kompas, Majalah Kartini, and Indonesia Travel Magazine among others. A traveller mommy by nature and random thinker by inclination, she keeps memories in her Instagram @hayuhamemayu and writes her everyday stories in her blog.