9 Swedish Cakes and Pastries You Should Know (and Eat!)

Winter, for me, is the best time for culinary adventure. Why? Because you can eat a lot and blame it on the weather. You can chew all day long and simply say “It’s the weather” when your significant others start to complain about that. Haha. Having that principle, no wonder I gain some weights after living in Sweden for almost two months. And these are some of the Swedish cakes and pastries that are responsible for my round belly 😀 :

  1. Kanelbulle

Kanelbulle is the cinnamon roll’s name in Sweden. Along with Denmark, Sweden is claimed as the country of its presumed origin, even though you can find it everywhere, mostly in Northern Europe and North America. This is one of the most famous buns in Sweden. So famous till there’s an event on October 4 known as “kanelbullens dag” (Cinnamon Roll Day). Swedish kanelbulle, however, has a distinctive flavor because it also contains cardamom (source: here and here).

Photo courtesy of Kungsörnen

2. The semla

The semla is another flour bun from Sweden, flavored with cardamom (again) and filled with almond paste and whipped cream. The traditions of Semla are rooted in fettisdag (Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday) when the buns were eaten at a last celebratory feast before the Christian fasting period of Lent. But now, due to its popularity, you can find and eat Semla soon after the Christmas (source: here).

Picture courtesy of Sweden.se
  1. Peparkakor

During the first days I arrived in Sweden, I was crazy about Pepparkakor. They are just so crunchy and moreish. Pepparkakor or gingersnap are baked throughout the year, but they are especially popular at Christmas when they are cut into attractive shapes, often decorated with icing (frosting). You can even buy the dough at supermarket and bake it by yourself. They are called pepparkakor (pepper cookies), not ingefärakakor (ginger cookies), because they contained lots of pepper. The cookies were said to cure sicknesses, ward off depression and they were also known as sexual stimulants (ahem!). Pepparkakshjärtan (gingerbread hearts) are especially popular and probably have their origin in the notion that eating pepparkakor would make you gentler and kinder, or at least less grumpy! This reputation survives in the traditional pepparkakor invitation: “Ät en pepparkaka, så blir du snäll!” (Eat a gingersnap, it will make you nice!). (source: here)

  1. Swedish almond cake

I know this cake from IKEA Australia and soon it becomes my favorite. Indeed, IKEA sells their version of Swedish almond cake, also known as mandeltårta. It is a light, fluffy cake with a creamy custard icing and toasted almonds. Yum! (source: here)

  1. Chokoladboll

Chokladboll (“chocolate ball”) is a type of unbaked pastry that is a popular Swedish confectionery. Previously known as “negerboll” (“negro ball”) and it was coined in an era when there were virtually no black people living in Sweden. However, since the term Negro is debatable, although the Swedish word “neger” (roughly equivalent to English “negro”) was considered neutral a few decades ago, the “chokladboll” is now the recommended term. The chokladboll consists of oatmeal, sugar, cocoa, vanilla sugar, butter, and sometimes a small amount of coffee (some like to mix in a splash of cream to make them creamier and softer), which is mixed to a compact mass. Balls are formed and then rolled in nib sugar, shredded coconut, or sprinkles. (source: here)

Picture courtesy of Delikatessboxen
  1. Saffransbullar and Lucia buns (Lussekatt)

A saffronbun, Swedish lussebulle or lussekatt, is a rich, spiced yeast-leavened sweet bun that is flavoured with saffron and cinnamon or nutmeg and contains currants similar to a teacake. Lussekatter (Lucia saffron buns) are eaten on December 13th to celebrate Lucia (the patron Saint of Light). December 13th was originally thought to be the shortest day of the year and is still the date chosen in Sweden to celebrate the return of lighter days. Each bun is shaped into an S-shape, which is supposed to resemble a curled up cat, and then two raisins are added to represent the eyes. Nobody knows for sure the origins of the shape and the connection with Saint Lucia, but it seems likely that they were originally called djävulskatter (the devil’s cats). (source: here and here)

  1. Vaniljhjärtan

A heart-shaped cookie filled with vanilla custard and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. It’s a typical Swedish pastry, which is also one of the most famous companies for fika. The pastry shell is very thin and fragile, so they break apart very easily. But I don’t mind really because it’s just so tasty. (source: here)

Photo courtesy of Onfoodietrail
  1. Chokladbiskvi

Almond biscuits made of almond paste and egg white at the bottom topped up with chocolate mousse and coated with a thin crunchy layer of chocolate. Sometimes you can come across a zesty lemon version of these biscuits with white mousse filling and lemon flavored white chocolate coating on top. (source: here)

Picture courtesy of Matgeek
  1. Hallongrotta

Another common Swedish pastry. The name means Raspberry Cave because it has a cave in the middle filled with raspberry Jam. It’s my favourite melt-in-mouth shortbread cookie by far. The combination of buttery cookie and fragrant raspberry jam is just perfect. Best served with black coffee. Nom nom nom! (source: here)


I know that I shouldn’t eat too many cakes. But I’m a cake lover, I can’t resist it, so quoting Boris Johnson: “My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.”


PS: Don’t worry, Hon, I’ll do the exercises (after a slice of cake 😀 )



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