The Best Semlor in Stockholm – A Guide to the Best Bakeries

17 Feb
2012

Fat Tuesday {fettisdag} is coming up in Sweden. It’s the day marking the beginning of Lent and giving up on something you love.

It is also the day to stuff yourself silly with the Swedish dessert, called semla or fettisdagsbulle. Here’s a short history about the semla but what you really need to know is why this is a heavenly treat.

The components of a semla

We’ll start at the bottom. The bun is soft, fluffy, and fresh. Hint of crushed cardamon will aromate the bread.

Next is the mandelmassa, almond paste. It’s sweet, fresh, and nutty. A real almond paste should be made with almond, surprise and without the almond extract to cover the nutty notes.

Third is the cream. Delicious, whipped cream. If Heaven was a food, it will be the cream in semlor. Sometimes the whipped cream comes with a hint of vanilla and structured with powdered sugar.

Finally, there’s the ‘hat.’ It is the little piece of bun that was cut out to make way for the almond filling. The hat is then slice and leveled off and topped with powdered sugar.

Swedes will eat a semlor on Fat Tuesday but it is becoming more common to have them earlier in the year. Some Swedish people eat their semla the traditional way: in a bowl of warm milk.

Since I wanted to pick the best semlor in Stockholm, I decided to have a jury of taste tasters.

Each taster hailed from a different country and have a long standing experience with eating sweets. All have enjoyed semlor at one point or another. And none can eat one with a bowl of warm milk. Sorry Swedes.

Here is the judging panel before the mission began

We picked semlor from bakeries all over the city: famous and hole in the walls spots. However, two bakeries, Lisas Cafe & Hembageri and Vetekatten were not included in the tasting. The bakeries receive an honorable placement because all of us agreed that they make delicious semlor (we have on our own time, had semlor at both the bakeries).

Blind Tasting
Each semla was assigned a number (1 to 10 but 1 & 2 were the same semla) and that was keyed onto a separate sheet of paper. My friend and I split the numbering and filling in the key, so we too would not be certain where each semla hailed from.

Grading System
We based the reviews on four categories: looks, bread taste, cream taste, and almond paste taste. Each category was worth a maximum of ten (10) points, where ten is the best.
The Looks category was judged first before the bun was dissected and destroyed by the tasters.
There were five judges on the panel.

Tallying the score
I totaled each category across all the tasters to determine the grand winner. There is a maximum of 200 points that can be awarded to a semla and 50 points per category.

The Swede served as auditor to double check the additions and transcriptions made from the notecards.

Bröd & Salt
Cream – 29
Almond – 30
Bread – 21
Looks – 34
Total – 114

Notes – This was a good, solid semla. It didn’t wow us in anyway and it didn’t disappoint.
Contact – Three locations. Hammarby Allé 66A, 120 62 Stockholm ? Renstiernas Gata 28, 116 31 Stockholm ? Birkagatan 15, 113 36 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Gunnarssons – Regular
Cream – 11
Almond- 16
Bread – 21
Looks – 35
Total – 83

Notes – The regular semla at Gunnarssons was a shock that it became the lowest scoring bun in our tasting. The bread was dry and the cream tasted a bit sour, it had just passed the “good by” date.
Contact – Götgatan 92, 118 62 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Gunnarssons – Special
Cream – 35
Almond – 27
Bread – 33
Looks – 36
Total – 141

Notes – If you head to Gunnarssons, definitely buy the ‘special’ and skip the regular. The ‘special’ was the only semla in the tasting panel that invoked confusion, love, and hate because of the mixed mandelmassa and grädde. Since there was no separate mandelmassa in the bread bowl’s bowel, the ‘special’ received low marks. Still, the mixed whipped cream and bread were perfect.
Contact – Götgatan 92, 118 62 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Bästa Bageriet – WINNER!
Cream – 40 – Heavenly cream!
Almond – 33
Bread – 35
Looks – 35
Total – 143

Notes – Bästa was a true surprise. It was near perfect on ever tasting and the only response from the judge’s panel were “ooooo, yummm” and “if this is what god intended for a semla, it is this one here.” Bästa Bageriet was nearly left off the tasting panel. It’s a hole in the wall bakery next to Maria Torget. Most of you have passed it by but never realized it even existed.

Bästa tied Sturekatten to be the co-winners and it goes to show both famous and small bakeries can make the best.
Contact – Swedenborgsgatan 4B, 118 48 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Chic Konditori – Karlsbadensemla
Cream – 32
Almond – 30
Bread – 35
Looks – 36
Total – 133

Notes – Delicious but different. The roasted nuts on top were walnuts instead of almonds and delicious on their own, they took away from the overall taste. The bread was not a traditional taste either but it was fluffy and well balanced. Overall, this is not a first time semla to eat but rather for those on an adventurous path for something new.
Contact – Swedenborgsgatan 1, 11848 Stockholm.
 
 
Chic Konditori – Regular
Cream – 14
Almond – 27
Bread – 26
Looks – 31
Total – 98

Notes – The regular version of Chic Konditori’s semla was a disappointment. The cream was a tad overwhipped and was over-structured; basically it was a few short steps from butter. Blogger KistaChic remarked, “there are so many nice things to do with a bread; this isn’t one of them.” Overall below average.
Contact – Swedenborgsgatan 1, 11848 Stockholm.

 
 
Kista Gallerian – Complé Konditori
Cream – 24
Almond – 25
Bread – 37 – Sexy bun!
Looks – 36
Total – 122

Notes – When we saw this semla, we fell in love. It was a bun of near perfection, large and fluffy. Unfortunately the cream was a bit over-whipped and the almost paste tasted of artificial extract flavors but the bread itself was perfect.
Contact – Kista Gallerian. Website.

Sturekatten – WINNER!
Cream – 39
Almond – 36 – Nuttiest Almond!
Bread – 34
Looks – 34
Total – 143

Notes – One of two powerhouses known to produce the best semlor in the city; the other being Vekekatten, Sturekatten did not disappoint. Cream was perfect; light, airy, and melt in your mouth goodness. The almond paste was fresh and nutty tasting and with bits of nut in it. Definitely a semla to be reckoned with.
Contact – Riddargatan 4, 114 35 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Liljeholmen – Regular {We don’t know the name of the bakery}
Cream – 32
Almond – 36 – Nuttiest Almond!
Bread – 34
Looks – 26
Total- 126

Notes – The mandelmassa was unusual in that we could taste raw grains of sugar along with the almond. The effect was a crunchy but harmonious bursting of sweet, nutty, fatty and smokey in your mouth. We loved how this mandelmassa was different from the rest. The bread was fluffy and flavored just right with the cardamom.
Contact – Unfortunately, we’ll never know where this bakery is. The sweet memory of cream and almond will remain in our stomachs forever.
 


Best Semlor around Sweden


These recommendations came in from readers around the web.

Malmö
Cafe Systrar & Bröder – via FredricL

Göteborg
Post your favorite below and we’ll include it!

Halmstad
Megalagom did a taste test and posted about it here. Read her best & worst of the city!

Stockholm Area
Årsta konditori – Located on the southern outskirts of Stockholm. Address – Årstavägen 51, 12054 Årsta. Shared by Reddit member vonadler
Vetekatten – Have some of the best semlor. Address – Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm
Lisas Cafe och Hembageri – A cute, quaint, serve yourself style cafe, Lisa’s semlor are also one of the best in Stockholm. Address – Skånegatan 68, 11637 Stockholm
Dessert & Choklad – Famous for their silky texture. Address – Patentgatan 7, 112 67 Stockholm. Submitted by Grace.
Tösse – Have a special crème anglaise semla. Karlavägen 77, 114 49 Stockholm. Submitted by Grace.

Borlänge
Almas Café – There is a saffron semla that is to die for. Suggested by Reddit member pnilz. Address – Vattugatan 3, 784 33 Borlänge. Website.

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15 Responses to The Best Semlor in Stockholm – A Guide to the Best Bakeries

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Christopher Grant

February 17th, 2012 at 11:23

Ahhhh, to be on that panel! Nice post… inspires me to try them all!

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Sapphire

February 17th, 2012 at 11:40

Chris, It was DELICIOUS!

Food coma, Homer Simpson style. :)

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Megalagom

February 17th, 2012 at 14:46

What a great, fun, and informative post! terrific idea! looks like a great time, makes me sad to not live in Stockholm and try all these different Semlor for myself! Now I am tempted to try all (3 or 4?) the different ones in my town! Good job :)

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Sapphire

February 17th, 2012 at 16:24

Megalagom – You have to do one too! Let me know and I’ll link you up. :)

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Ravi

February 17th, 2012 at 19:59

Just awesome.

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Happy Hedgehog

February 17th, 2012 at 20:27

My territory. Borlänge. I shall have to go in and try their semlor then, just for quality control purposes of course!

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Daniel

February 18th, 2012 at 12:32

As a new comer to Stockholm this guide is very helpful :)

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Andrew

February 18th, 2012 at 14:43

I wish Stockholm hosted an annual semlor eating contest like how NYC has the national hot dog eating contest.

I’d love to see that gluttony! :D

Semlor are good, but I’m saving mine for the free one at work. :o

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KistaChic » Hur står sig en KistaSemla i Stockholmskonkurrensen?

February 18th, 2012 at 18:02

[…] KistaSemla från Complé Konditori var en av nio tävlande semlor i ett test hos engelskspråkiga sajten Lost in […]

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Sapphire

February 18th, 2012 at 18:07

@Happy Hedgehog – Then it’s your duty to go eat one, take a photo, and send it to us. :)

@Andrew – OMG, a semlor eating contest would be awesome!!!!

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Estelliane

February 19th, 2012 at 15:08

Andrew, you have brilliant ideas! :-) A Semlor contest!

If the gods are willing to help, I will be in Stockholm next year and I can be part of the Semlor testing panel * evil laughter*

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Andrew

February 19th, 2012 at 16:15

@Sapphire – Perhaps we can find a bakery to help with this idea next year! :D
@Estelliane – I have my moments. Often they are later over-shaded by my “derpy-ness” ;)

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Semlor Galore « Something Swedish

February 22nd, 2012 at 13:32

[…] of friends did a semlor tasting to find the best semla in Stockholm. Read her post here. And so with her blessing: “Megalagom – You have to do one too! Let me know and I’ll link […]

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Megalagom

February 22nd, 2012 at 13:36

Hi Sapphire! I did it! I somehow convinced my hubby to taste semlor around town so I can write about it- I linked you into my post of course! http://somethingswedish.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/semlor-galore/

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Gavin Swonnell

February 22nd, 2012 at 13:43

Hej!

I found your post here via a blogger friend of mine http://somethingswedish.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/semlor-galore/#comment-278
and love your review! its fun, interesting and seeing as we live in Stockholm wecan try out these bakeries as its always nice to try a good new place!
Thanks for sharing :)

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