Today is Shrove Tuesday / Pancake day / fettisdagen / vastlad. In both Sweden and Estonia there is a tradition of eating semlor / vastlakukleid on this day. (If you have never heard of these, The Local helpfully provides The lowdown on Sweden’s best buns.)

While I have long been doing most of the cooking in our house, Eric is the master baker. My theory is that cooking is too nitty-gritty and pedestrian for him. But give him a proper big project – gingerbread cookies, semlor, even pancakes or lasagne – and he’s hooked.

So this year, and indeed almost all of our years here in London, Eric baked semlor. I don’t think he ever did it in Sweden where quality semlor can be bought in every bakery for months, but here it brings back a bit of home.

There are some differences between the Estonian and the Swedish traditions. Swedish semlor are filled with almond paste and whipped cream. As far as I can remember, an Estonian vastlakukkel only had whipped cream as filling – possibly because it was almost impossible to get one’s hands on almonds or almond paste back when I was a child. Or maybe it has always been that way.

Also, some Swedes drown their semlor in hot milk. I’ve always found this habit most bizarre – I prefer my milk on the side, in a glass – but to each his own.

Semla, my way Semla, Eric’s way