If there’s one thing Swedes are known for, it’s their sweet tooth. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five of the most loved Swedish buns and cakes that fill cafes all around Stockholm. Read their histories, learn some fun facts, and mark your calendars because most Swedish pastries have a national holiday where Swedes take the time to celebrate and munch on these sugary treats.
Swedish Chocolate Balls: Chokladbollar
Chokladbollar, pronounced, ‘hoc-la-bollahr’ is one of the simplest sweets to make. You don’t even need to bake them – just pop them in the fridge! Chokladbollar can be made with simple household ingredients: rolled oats, cocoa powder, sugar, butter, and black coffee is all you need. Chokladbollar were introduced in Sweden in 1943 during WWII. They were a way to use up leftover ingredients during times of scarcity.
Swedes celebrate this pastry on Chokladbollens Dag or Chocolate Ball Day every year on May 11.
Swedish Cinnamon Rolls: Kanelbullar
Kanelbullar, pronounced ‘kan-él-bollahr’ is definitely one of the most iconic Swedish pastries and is usually present at any fika. The ingredients are simple, the star flavor being, you guessed it, cinnamon! These buns have been around since the 1920s after WWI. However, ingredients like cinnamon were hard to come by so they didn’t become nationally popular until the economic boom in Scandinavia in the 1950s.
This pastry is celebrated on October 4 so mark your calendars for Kanelbullens Dag!
Sticky Chocolate Cake: Kladdkaka
If you can believe it, kladdkaka, pronounced ‘klahd-koh-kah’ was actually made by accident! It was baked into existence in 1938 in Örebro, Sweden by Gudrun Isaksson who was originally trying to make brownies with no baking powder. This sugary delicacy, which directly translates to ‘mud cake’ or ‘sticky cake’ is definitely a Swedish staple. Like many Swedish desserts, it’s too easy to make to pass up. Its star ingredients are simply cocoa powder, flour, sugar, and eggs.
Of course, kladdkaka has its own day of celebration too. Kladdkakans Dag falls on November 7.
Fat Tuesday Buns: Semlor
Semlor, pronounced ‘sem-lohr’ buns have one of the richer histories of Swedish pastries. The delicious white flour bun with an almond and cream filling started off as a traditional treat eaten on the last day before the Christian practice of fasting during Lent. This day is known as Fettisdag or ‘Fat Tuesday,’ or ‘Mardi Gras’ as it’s known in the U.S. Fettisdag is now recognized as the national day for eating semlor buns. As the popularity of fasting for Lent has dwindled in Sweden, this bun appears around Christmas and lingers until New Years.
Tip: Eat these the traditional Swedish way and use the top to scoop out the filling.
Sunshine buns: Solskensbullar
These buns go by many names: sailor buns, Paris buns, vanilla buns, and even just plain old sugar buns. No matter the name, these buns will fill your home with sweet smells of Scandinavia. Their main ingredient in solskensbullar, pronounced ‘suul-sheens-bollahr’ is cardamom, a traditional spice that can be found in pastries in almost every Swedish café, especially around the holidays. These buns might not have their own day (yet) but who needs an excuse to bake up a little sunshine?