During the lenten season in Sweden, Tuesday is better known as Semla Day. Semla is a traditional Swedish pastry made from cardamom-scented rounds of yeasted dough, cut open and filled with almond paste and a thick ring of whipped cream, then topped with a flurry of confectioner's sugar.
The semla was originally eaten only on Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday as the last festive food before Lent. At some point in history, Swedes grew tired of the strict observance of Lent, added cream and almond paste to the mix, and started eating semla every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter.
Today, no such reservations exist and semlor (the plural of semla) usually appear in bakery windows as near after Christmas as is deemed decent–and sometimes even before. Each Swede consumes on average five bakery-produced semlor each year, in addition to all those that are homemade. Although often eaten on its own, semla is always better with coffee or tea.
Our favorite place to get semla and stop for a fika in Stockholm is Vete-Katten -- voted Best Semla 2011. Each Fat Tuesday alone, this Stockholm institution sells over 14,000 semlor. That's a lot of pastry.