Blackberry Almond Cake, Swedish Cream Buns, and Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns from FIKA: THE ART OF THE SWEDISH COFFEE BREAK by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall

Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall have created an illustrated lifestyle cookbook on the Swedish tradition of fika—a twice-daily coffee break—including recipes for traditional baked goods, information and anecdotes about Swedish coffee culture, and the roots and modern incarnations of this cherished custom.

FikaCover

Sweden is one of the world’s top coffee consuming nations, and the twice-daily social coffee break known as fika is a cherished custom. Fika can be had alone or in groups, indoors or outdoors, while traveling or at home. A time to take a rest from work and chat with friends or colleagues over a cup and a sweet treat, fika reflects the Swedish ideal of slowing down to appreciate life’s small joys. In this adorable illustrated cookbook, Brones and Kindvall share nearly fifty classic recipes from their motherland—from cinnamon buns and ginger snaps to rhubarb cordial and rye bread—allowing all of us to enjoy this charming tradition regardless of where we live.

Reprinted with permission from Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall, © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Illustrations by Johanna Kindvall, © 2015. You can purchase Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break at your local bookshop or through our affiliate links with Amazon and IndieBound.

Horizontal RuleBLACKBERRY ALMOND CAKE (mandelkaka med björnbär)

Makes one 9-inch (23-centimeter) cake

When it’s summer, you don’t always want to spend a lot of time in a warm kitchen baking. Therefore, it’s good to know a simple cake recipe that can be put together in minutes and that you can change depending on which berries you have on hand. This is exactly that recipe, which comes from Anna’s Aunt Lotta. While the cake is delicious with blackberries, you can also use it as a base for other berries and fruits: raspberries, blueberries, and even halved plums work well. Serve the cake by itself or with freshly whipped cream. This cake is also good with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar on top.

  • BlackberryAlmondCake6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 85 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup (5.25 ounces, 148 grams) natural cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 cup (5 ounces, 142 grams) all-purpose flour
  • About 1 cup (4 to 5 ounces, 113 to 142 grams) fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease and flour a 9-inch (23-centimeter) round baking pan.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and almond extract until frothy. Pour in the slightly cooled butter and stir until well blended. Sift in the flour and mix until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Pour the batter into the baking pan. Scatter the blackberries evenly over the top. You don’t need to press the berries into the cake; their weight makes them sink a bit during baking.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. The cake is done when a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake and let cool before serving.

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SwedishCreamBuns

SWEDISH CREAM BUNS (semlor)

Makes 12 to 16 buns

Semlor are directly linked to the celebration of Fat Tuesday, Fettisdagen, in Sweden. In fact, this sweet bun filled with almond paste and heavy whipped cream is even called a fettisbulle, a “fat bun.” Rich, sweet, and creamy, it’s no surprise that it was historically intended as the kick-off to Lent, but nowadays you find it in cafés and bakeries from New Year’s to Easter. If you’re working on being traditional, however, make a batch for Fat Tuesday and brew a large batch of French-press coffee to go with it.

Dough:

  • 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces, 99 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) natural cane sugar
  • 3½ cups (1⅛ pounds, 496 grams) all-purpose flour, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed

Filling:

  • 2 cups (10 ounces, 284 grams) blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) natural cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 milliliters) milk, depending on dryness of the filling

to finish

  • ½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 milliliters) heavy whipping cream, whipped, for topping, depending on how many semlor you are serving
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In a saucepan, melt the butter; then stir in the milk. Heat until warm to the touch (about 110°F/43°C). In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture. Stir and let sit until bubbles form on top of the yeast, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 of the eggs and the sugar. Pour in the remaining butter and milk mixture, along with the yeast, and stir until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Work the dough together well, by hand or with a wooden spoon.

Transfer the dough to a flat surface and knead it until smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. The dough should feel a little wet, but if it sticks to your fingers and the countertop, add a little flour. Go lightly, though; if you add too much, the buns will end up dry. The dough is fully kneaded when you slice into it with a sharp knife and see small air bubbles throughout. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and place in a draft-free place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Grease a baking sheet or line with a silicone baking mat. Divide the dough into 12 to 16 equal parts and roll into balls. Place on the baking sheet with about 2 inches (5 centimeters) between each bun. Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°F).

Whisk the remaining egg and brush on top of the dough balls. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven, transfer the buns to the counter, and cover with a tea towel to let cool.

To prepare the filling, mix the almonds, sugar, and almond extract in a food processor until the almonds are finely ground and the mixture starts to stick together.

Cut a circular “lid” off the top of each bun and set aside. Then cut a circle on the inside of each bun, leaving about ¼ inch (0.5 centimeter) for a border, being careful not to cut all the way through to the bottom. Scoop out the cut portions with a spoon and place in a large bowl. Stir in the almond mixture until well blended. Then pour in enough of the milk to make a filling that’s thick and smooth yet not watered down.

Fill the buns with the filling and top with the whipped cream. Place the lid on top of the whipped cream and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

Note: it’s rare that anyone makes an entire batch of semlor at one time. The best thing to do is to freeze the leftover buns that aren’t going to be eaten that day. When you are ready for another round, defrost them and construct a fresh semla with the appropriate amount of almond filling and whipped cream.

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Vetebullar1CINNAMON AND CARDAMOM BUNS (vetebullar)

Makes 30 to 36 buns, or 2 lengths

Bullar (buns) are perhaps the quintessential component to a Swedish coffee break, and vete in Swedish means “wheat.” Vetebullar is therefore the general term for wheat-based dough that can be turned into any number of bun creations. Kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) and kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) are common variations on this type of bun, and while the traditional “roll” form is common, there are twisted varieties as well. Typically they are baked and served in paper liners. Kanelbullar are such an iconic pastry that an entire day in Sweden is devoted to them (October 4, for those considering celebrating).

This recipe has both filling varieties, and once you’ve mastered the dough, you can start experimenting with your own fillings. If a Swede knows one thing, it’s this: no matter what the variation, bullar are always best fresh out of the oven, and make for a wonderful-smelling kitchen.

CinnamonBunsIngredientsDough:

  • 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces, 99 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups (360 milliliters) milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4½ cups (1⅜ pounds, 638 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) natural cane sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces, 99 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup (3.5 ounces, 99 grams) natural cane sugar
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon or whole cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 2 additional teaspoons crushed cardamom seeds, if making filling using cinnamon topping
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Pearl sugar or chopped almonds

To prepare the dough, melt the butter in a saucepan; then stir in the milk. Heat until warm to the touch (about 110°F/43°C). In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until bubbles form on top of the yeast.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt. Add the yeast mixture along with the remaining butter and milk. Work together with your hands until you can make the dough into a ball.

Transfer the dough to a flat surface and knead it until smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. The dough should feel moist, but if it sticks to your fingers add a tiny bit of flour. The dough is fully kneaded when you slice into it with a sharp knife and see small air bubbles throughout. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and place in a draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

CinnamonBunsFoldingGrease a baking sheet, or place medium paper liners directly on the sheet.

Make the filling right before the dough has finished rising. Using a fork, cream the butter together with the sugar and the spices until you get an evenly mixed, spreadable paste.

When the dough has finished rising, take half of the dough and place it on a flat surface. Roll it out with a rolling pin to an 11 by 17-inch (28 by 43-centimeter) rectangle. Place the rectangle on the surface so that the long side is closest to you.

Carefully spread half of the filling on top of the rolled-out dough so that it covers the entire area; be sure to go all the way to the edges. Begin at the long side near you and roll the dough upward (see diagram). Slice the roll into 15 to 18 equally sized slices and place them, rolled side up, on the baking sheet or in the paper liners. If using a baking sheet, pinch the ends of the slices to keep them from pulling away during baking. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Cover the buns with a clean tea towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 435°F (225°C).

Vetebullar2When the buns have risen, carefully brush them with the beaten egg and sprinkle each with the pearl sugar.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. If you are baking a length, bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer the buns from the baking sheet to the counter, and cover with a tea towel to cool. Serve freshly baked, and if not eaten right away, store in the freezer once they are completely cooled.

Variations: Instead of rolling the dough to make the classic bun shape, you can also make twists, a common formation when making cardamom buns, as well as baking a length and cutting a design into the dough with scissors to let the filling ooze out a little.

Horizontal RuleAnnaBronesAnna Brones is a Swedish-American freelance writer based in Paris. She is the editor of the online food magazine Foodie Underground, and is a contributor to a variety of publications including BBC, the Guardian, Sprudge, GOOD, and PUNCH.

 

 

JohannaKindvallJohanna Kindvall is a Swedish illustrator who divides her time between Brooklyn and Skåne in the south of Sweden. Her work has been featured in various books and magazines. She also writes an illustrated cooking blog, Kokblog, which was named a Saveur “site we love.”

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