Swedish Semlor are a Sweet Way to Kick Off Lent with Almond Paste and Cream

Gumbo and etouffee might get all the attention, foodwise, for Mardi Gras, but there are important pastry opportunities on Shrove Tuesday, aka Fat Tuesday. In Sweden, the sweet roll called semla is the traditional way to kick off Lent. The rolls are popular throughout Northern Europe, and are known as vastlakukkel, laskiaispulla; or fastlagsbulle/fastelavnsbolle in Finland, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Sometimes also called fettisdagsbulle (Fat Tuesday roll), semlor (the...