Scandinavian people love their coffee. Norwegians are in the top of coffee consumption but Sweden and Finland consume the most cups of coffee per day in the world. So to say the least – Scandinavians are well caffeinated!
But when having a Fika in the summer it is sometimes nice to cool down with a cold drink. If there is no ice coffee available Scandinavians love to make a jug of ‘saft’ – cordial. This cold drink matches any favourite nibbles such as cookies, pastries or cinnamon buns. What Fika truly stand for and what you need to have to create the best Fika moment you can find here. And here you can find 10 ways to Fika so that you can find your new favourite.
Now we want to brew some coffee and make a jug of ‘saft’ – don’t you?
Fika – The Connoisseur’s Guide to Cake & Drink Pairings
Aaaaah, Fika. That untranslatable, slightly odd-sounding Swedish word which encompasses so much loveliness. Fika may just be our favourite Swedish word ever.
Not sure what Fika is? Here’s an in-depth explanation of the meaning of ‘Fika’ for you. In essence, fika can be described as follows; ‘meet up, have a coffee and a chit-chat’. It often also includes something baked, sweet and comforting.
Fika can be a bit of a challenge – how on earth are you meant to decide on which treat to enjoy? Well – fear no more, we have asked our leading lady in the café, beautiful Tina, to share her best cake and drink pairings for us. Over to Tina;
10 Tasty Ways to Fika
Cinnamon Bun & Americano
The body of an americano can stand up to the enriched dough of a cinnamon bun, and that sticky-sweet spicy centre and crunch of pearl sugar brings out the natural sweetness of our lovely roasted Monmouth coffee. Good morning! (Or any time of day, to be honest.)
Punschrulle & Espresso
For an instant, intense hit, you can’t go wrong with our strong, aromatic coffee cutting through rich marzipan-chocolate, followed by that subtle liquor-flavoured kick. This powerful combination is a guaranteed pick-me-up. If Punschrulle isn’t your thing, try one of our other sweet Delicato treats on offer.
Kladdkaka & Organic Fog Green Tea
The Wild Card. The intense sweetness of this brownie-cake is tempered by the smoky, leafy flavour of the green tea, which refreshes the palate of the cake’s stickiness and the accompanying whipped cream’s richness (and helps you feel slightly less guilty for your indulgence).
Apple and Cinnamon Cake & English Breakfast
Cinnamon goes wonderfully with a classic black tea, and the bright, fresh bite of the sweet apples and vanilla creme complements the subtle astringency of the tea’s tannins. Our Apple Cake is also the top choice for a breakfast cake, so this union was clearly meant to be.
Banana and Pecan Cake & O’Boy Hot Chocolate or Mocha
Chocolate, bananas and pecan nuts – can there be a better combination? Throw in a shot of coffee for that extra kick. To dial up the exotic nature of the cake’s ingredients, have your hot O’Boy/mocha made with coconut milk.
Love Cake & Latte
Just enough coffee to compliment the mocha-coconut topping without detracting from the flavour of the cake or overwhelming your tastebuds, whilst the silky milk goes wonderfully with that decadent chocolate sponge.
Carrot Cake & Peppermint
Peppermint rounds off the sweetness of the cream cheese icing, complimenting the zesty lime on top, whilst bringing out the flavour of the pine nuts, but is delicate enough to let the soft, spicy sponge dominate.
Dream Cake & Cappuccino or Flat White
A stronger coffee flavour cuts the the caramel-sweetness of the coconut topping, whilst bringing out the vanilla aroma of the sponge, and the light, fresh milk brings together and rounds off the flavours and textures of the cake.
Tosca Cake & Swedish Filter Coffee
Thinner but flavoursome coffee softens the dense, marzipan-enriched sponge, and the coffee cuts through and heightens the intense caramel crunch of the almond topping. (I like to dip my Tosca cake into my filter coffee like some kind of fika heathen – but trust me: try it once and you’ll be a convert to the true British tradition of dunking forever.)
Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Orange Brownie & Earl Grey
The bergamot of the Earl Grey compliments the orange of the brownie beautifully and the tea’s brightness lightens up the strong, dark chocolate.
..if that made you fancy a fika – call a friend and head over to our café. Or, browse our range of Scandi cakes and biscuits for a little Swedish Fika-feeling delivered to your door.
The Danes love a nice piece of cake or biscuit with their coffee. This biscuit/cake is called Hindbærsnitter in Danish and literally translated this means Raspberry Slices.
These are very simple to make – and you can make them fancy or basic.
It’s basically two pieces of sweet shortcrust pastry, baked, then layers with raspberry. Topped with a nice layer of white icing – and then whatever you fancy on top (we like freeze dried raspberries, but the traditional recipe called for hundreds-and-thousands).
An old Danish biscuit/cake to have with your afternoon coffee.
Author: Bronte Aurell
Recipe type: Fika
350g plain flour
200g cold butter
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or seeds from one vanilla pod
A pinch of salt
200g good quality raspberry jam (i often add mashed raspberries to mine to make the result a bit more tart)
250g icing sugar
Toppings of your choice (chopped nuts, freeze dried raspberries, hundreds-and-thousands)
In a food processor, add the cubed cold butter and flour and sugar. Blits a few times to start the mixing.
Add the remaining ingredients and blitz again until the dough starts forming. It's done as soon as it is smooth and holds together.
Pop the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest - this will make it easier to roll out.
On a floured surface, add half the dough and roll out to 25 x 25 cm. Transfer to a lined baking tray.
Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Pop both trays in the fridge again for 10-15 minutes.
Turn the oven to 200C/400F/GM5
Bake until golden (10-12 minutes, depending in your oven), then remove from the oven and leave to cool for just a few minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your icing: Add the icing sugar to a bowl and add 2-4 tablespoons of hot water - you may need more water than this, but start with 3-4. Stir, adding more water if needed, until you have a thick icing with the texture of syrup (i.e. not too runny).
On the still slightly warm pastry, add the jam and spread carefully and evenly all over. Add the second pastry on top so it lines up.
Carefully, using a spatula, smear the icing across the large cake. If your icing is too thick, it wont work - and too runny, it will spill everywhere, so test a little corner first and adjust accordingly.
As soon as you have spread your icing, add your toppings.
You have two choices at this point: Cut while pastry is a little bit warm (this is easier) - or pop the entire thing in the fridge to harden up and then carefully cut to precision when cold. Either way, when you cut, do so with a sharp big knife, in clean precise swoops.
First, cut all the sides off so you have an even cake - then cut into 10-16 pieces (depending on how big you prefer them to be). We cut 14 from this recipe.
Every December, Swedes travels to our shop from afar to get hold of saffron powder so they can make Lucia buns. Saffron powder is ground saffron and gives off a very intense yellow colour and flavour. If you cannot get hold of saffron powder, use strands but grind them slightly and infuse them in the milk before using to maximise the colour.
Saffron buns are eaten all throughout December – but mainly for the day of St Lucia on 13th December.
You can shape the buns into the traditional ‘S’ shape or even make a saffron plaited loaf.
Our Bronte is Danish and likes to cut her saffron bun open and spread with butter. All Swedes laugh at her in disbelief. She doesn’t care because it’s really really nice. But if you chose to do it, don’t tell the Swedes or they may deport you to Lapland or something.
1g saffron powder (2 sachets) (if using strands, grind and soak in the milk beforehand)
400ml whole milk
130g caster sugar
200ml plain Quark or greek yoghurt (room temperature)
1 tsp salt
175g butter (soft and room temperature)
Approximately 700-800g plain bread flour such as – Vetemjöl or strong Canadian Bread Flour
Handful of raisins
Egg for brushing
Heat the milk to about 38°C. Add the yeast and milk to a mixer with a dough attachment. Mix until the yeast has dissolved, then add the saffron powder.
Add the sugar, salt, quark and mix well. Begin to add the flour gradually while mixing, and egg. Add the softened butter. Keep adding flour until you have the right consistency. Keep mixing until you have a dough that is still sticky, but doesn’t stick to your finger too much when you poke it. Too much flour makes the saffron buns dry out quickly. If you’re using an electric mixer, leave it to knead for about 5 minutes, or knead by hand for 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise until doubled in size.
Knead by hand, using just enough flour that you’re able to work with the dough but it doesn’t stick. Add enough flour to make it so that you are just able to work with the dough in your hands. Cut the dough into around 24 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece in your hand into a cylinder, then transfer to a lined baking tray and mould into an ‘S’ shape (see the picture). Add a single raisin to the centre of where the ‘S’ shape curves (two raisins for each bun) and leave to rise again for around 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°c. then brush gently with egg and pop them in the hot oven for around 10-12 minutes. The buns should have a very slight tinge of brown on top, but not so much that it stops the nice yellow colour from showing. Turn down the heat a bit if you find the buns are getting too brown.
Leave to cool under a damp tea towel (this prevents them from going dry) as soon as you take them out of the oven.
Many moons ago, I used to work for innocent drinks. I wore many hats there, one of which was ‘Chief Carrot Cake Baker on Fridays”.
I was reading through some old books today and found the recipe in the innocent ‘Hungry’ cookbook and thought it would be a good time to re-post the recipe in here.
This is the same carrot cake we serve at the cafe. What makes it different is that we use pinenuts in the cake – and the icing is not sickly sweet: the lime and cream cheese works well against the sweetness of the cake base.
The recipe was originally made as a bit of a bet. Jonas said to me: ‘I bet you can’t beat that carrot cake’ about a lovely cake we’d had in a cafe one weekend. I accepted the challenge. I kid you not: 36 different version later in one weekend, and this is the result. It still stands the test of time and Jonas still agrees he hasn’t eaten a better one since then (or maybe he’s just really sick of carrot cake?)
Photo in the innocent book is by the brilliant Clare Shilland.
Every language contains a few untranslatable words. In Denmark and Norway, “hygge” is generally used as an example for a general state of lovely cosiness. In Sweden, the word that is hard to translate literally is ‘Fika’.
‘To Fika’ is a good old Swedish word that basically means to ‘meet up, have a coffee and a chit-chat’. We Scandinavians love nothing more than to meet up for a Fika. This can be done at any time – and a Fika can take anything from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on how good you are at Fika-ing. If you’re in Norway or Denmark you don’t use the actual word Fika, but the rules of the game are the same.
For a good Fika you’d be expected to serve good Scandinavian coffee. People in the Nordic countries drink more coffee than anyone in the world, even the Italians. This is because we love our filter coffee – and it needs to be very strong and served in abundance. When you have a Fikarast (coffee break) at work or meet someone for a Fika it is not unlikely to polish off a good 2-3 cups of filter coffee in one sitting. Each. Perhaps this abuse of caffeine goes a little way to explain why the Norwegians always sounds so happy and why we’re one of the biggest producers of Europop: Our veins are constantly beating in tune to Basshunter hits.
Once upon a time, back in the day, when men were men and women wore twin-sets and went to bed with rollers in their hair, people knew how to treat their guests when they popped by for a Fika. No pre-packaged cakes, no just popping out to M&S for a roll of digestives and a ham & egg sub. No, no, back when Granny ruled the roost, things were made from scratch, guests were treated to coffee in the finest china and nobody had to help with the washing up.
Back in the forties, a book was published in Sweden entitled ”Sju Sorters Kakor” – meaning, Seven Kinds of Biscuits. It does contain recipes for well over a hundred biscuits and cakes, but the reason for the title was simple: seven was the number of different homemade cakes a good housewife should offer any guests that popped over for Fika. Hmmm, yes. Six kinds and you were stingy (and probably lazy), any more than seven and you were a show off. Lagom.
This lovely book quickly became part of Swedish culture and every household owns at least 4 copies and swear by the fact it is the most influential book since the Bible. Almost. Every time a distant relative dies, you are guaranteed to receive a few more copies. Despite the fact that it is illegal to throw any copies of this book away, it is still in print and new editions are churned out every couple of years. There is a fear Sweden may sink into the ocean one day from a surplus of Sju Sorters Kakor books. Seeing as very few people still offer you seven kinds of biscuits when you pop over, one can conclude that someone somewhere is slacking in the baking department.
In Denmark, a similar fashion arose at around the same time. In the south of Denmark, near the German border, a tradition known now a days as Sønderjysk Kaffebord, literally Coffee Table from Sønderborg, seeks to rival the Swedish housewife’s offering. There, you are also expected to serve seven sorts of biscuits – as well as seven sorts of soft cakes – from carrot cake to chocolate cake and layer cakes. Considering the generation of South Danish ladies who lunched at each others’ houses did not have to be carried around by pick-up trucks, one must conclude that restraint is in the back bone of those Danes.
While the average Scandinavian household no longer has a mini production line of home baking going on (the same as most British household no longer serve high tea on a daily basis), Scandinavians still do love their coffee breaks and we always take time to fika when we can – it is simply part of our culture and still today, it is generally accepted you can pop over to visit your friends without having to synchronise your Blackberry diaries 2 week in advance. Whether you choose to take your fika breaks with seven kinds of cake, or simply pop out for a skinny soya decaf with vanilla syrup in the sun, make sure you spare a thought for the poor grannies that had to stay at home baking all day fretting about how to look better than the neighbour without over stepping the ‘lagom’ rules – and maybe have a go at making a few of your own (Ask any Swede and they’re bound to have a few spare copies of ‘Seven Kinds of Cakes’ recipe books lying around).