Celebrating Fika with Marängtårta!

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One year ago, today, Anna Brones and my book Fika – The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break was released. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. A year full of wonderful meetings with readers and enthusiastic bakers and cooks from all over the world.

By tagging #ArtofFika on social media we have been able to follow our reader’s wonderful fika moments and their delicious results when baking cakes, cookies and breads from the book. I also find it inspiring when I see readers creating delicious new versions of the recipes. Thank you all for sharing your fika with us.

I’m super thrilled to let you know that the Fika book is being translated into both Chinese and Korean. How cool is that? I can’t wait to see the result.

To celebrate, I’m baking a tweaked version of the Meringue Torte (page 104), which for some unknown reason in Sweden is called Pinocchiotårta or Brittatårta. In the cookbook we just calls it Marängtårta and bake it with hazelnuts and chocolate.  Here below I suggest baking it with berries (fresh or frozen) such as strawberries, blueberries or/and raspberries. I also like it with a little fresh ginger in the merengue and instead of hazelnuts topped with slivered blanched almonds.

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Marängtårta (Meringue Torte)
makes one 9-inch (23-centimeter) torte

torte
6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 85 grams) unsalted butter
¾ cup (5.25 ounces, 148 grams) natural cane sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon milk (75 milliliters)
¾ cup (3.75 ounces, 106 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder

meringue
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces, 99 grams) natural cane sugar
about 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
a handful (or two) of slivered, blanched almonds

filling (and topping)
1 to 1½ cup (240 to 360 milliliters) heavy whipping cream
about 1 cup fresh (or frozen) berries (blueberries, raspberries or strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Grease and flour two 9-inch (23-centimeter) round springform pans*.

for the torte
Cream together the butter with sugar. Add one egg yolk at a time. When it’s evenly blended, mix in the vanilla and milk. Lastly fold in the flour and baking powder with a spatula until you have a smooth batter.

Spread the batter equally into the 2 prepared springforms.  It should be spread as a thin even layer all the way to the edges.

for the meringue
In a grease free metal or glass bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue whisking while adding sugar little by little and whisk until stiff peaks form. Lastly add the fresh grated ginger.

Divide the meringue equally between the two pans and spread out so it covers the cake batter completely. Sprinkle with slivered blanched almonds on top.

Bake the cakes for about 40 minutes, until the meringue and almonds are crispy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the cakes are cool, carefully remove the cakes from the springform.

assemble the torte
On a serving plate, place one layer and spread the berries and whipped cream on top. Place the second cake layer on top and (if you like) top the cake with more cream and decorate with some extra berries.

Serve immediately.

*You can also bake this in a single rectangular pan lined with parchment paper, and cut in half to make the individual layers.

related links

Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break (Behind the Scenes)
and here you can see Anna Brones behind the scenes story
Images from my book release party
Anna and Johanna talking Fika on Heritage Radio
more Fika press

Tea Paired with Swedish Cookies and Treats

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A week ago, I hosted a tea pairing event in my kitchen with Rachel Safko and Ulrika Pettersson (Unna Bakery).  Rachel, who’s a writer and tea specialist, selected six different teas and paired them with traditional Swedish treats baked by Ulrika and me.

The three of us ladies got to know each other by talking and tasting a lot of coffee, tea and treats for an article Rachel wrote for Edible Manhattan, issue No 44, 2016 about the Swedish tradition of fika. We’d hosted a small fika for the Edible crew back in the fall that became the cover of the drinks issue (photographed by Scott Gordon Bleicher) and felt inspired to host a larger tea & fika event.

We were so happy and honored to share these with such wonderful guests on a late winter day in New York and hope this list will give you a sense of the surprising and very delicious flavor combinations that can come from pairing tea and Swedish snacks.

Tea Paired with Swedish Cookies and Treats
written by Rachel Safko

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Elderflower herbal infusion from In Pursuit of Tea with Unna Bakery’s dream cookies: A springlike aperitif, with rich, delicate elderflowers complementing the sparkle of Unna’s airy cookies.

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In Pursuit of Tea Tung Ting Oolong with Unna’s raspberry cave cookies. A nice transitional snack from late winter to spring: this green, woodsy, medium-oxidized charcoal-roasted oolong has darker undercurrents of smoke and sweet berry jam that suit the cookie’s marvelous mix of tart and sweet.

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Joseph Wesley Assam tea with sharp cheddar, Johanna’s cardamom skorpor and handmade orange-thyme marmalade. The cinnabar-esque brightness and warmth of this classic Indian Assam stand up to the cheddar’s bite and bring out the orange and cardamom notes in this traditional Swedish snack, matching its complexity. You can find a similar recipe (with caraway seeds instead of cardamom) in Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones & Johanna Kindvall–just switch out the caraway seeds for 4-5 teaspoons of freshly crushed cardamom.

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Joseph Wesley Keemun with Unna’s gingersnaps and blue cheese. This elegant, mellow Chinese Keemun tames the punch of the blue cheese and the cookie spices, “calming the palate like a blanket.” A surprising winter hors d’oeuvre—terrific for parties.

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In Pursuit of Tea Shu Puerh with Unna’s chocolate-caramel cookies. With earthy, barnyard flavors characteristic of teas from China’s Yunnan province, this coffee-like dark tea melds with the deep richness of the cookies; its barnyard notes are also somewhat soothed by waves of pure caramel and big, bright bursts of sugar.

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Surprise pairing for a late winter day on the cusp of spring: Bellocq Shire Antlers white tea with Johanna’s cardamom cake. This unusual white tea combines light delicate notes with underlying chocolate and rose, offering a lovely backdrop for this spicy yet delicate cake, made with hand-crushed cardamom pods. You can learn how to make it from Johanna’s book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break.

We hope this inspires you to make your own fikas at home and to try new kinds of tea! We’d also be delighted to help if you’d like to host any events with tea and Swedish snacks. The three of us can be found here: Rachel, Ulrika and Johanna.

Enjoy spring!

*

related links

The Harmony Of Tea + Fika by Sara Shacket (a review of the event)
Pairing Tea and Food by Rachel Safko, Fresh Cup
Global Tea & Food Traditions: Russia by Rachel Safko
Ulrika Pettersson & Unna Bakery at Food52 (about Unna Bakery)
Unna Bakery & dream cookie at Edible Brooklyn
Savory Caraway Crisps (from Fika book), by Anna Brones @ The Kitchn
A New Cookbook Imparts the Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Lindsey Tramuta, T Magazine, NYtimes

 

 

How to make Puff Pastry

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I have a confession, I love puff pastry! This buttery and flaky pastry works equally well with sweet or savory dishes. And luckily it’s not that hard to make yourself. A little time consuming, yes. But you can definitely do it and it will surely impress your guests! In between folds you can take care of laundry, read a book, organise your pantry or go for a run. You can also do some other cooking experiment or have a friend over for wine.  So roll up your sleeves and get ready to roll.

Puff Pastry
about 1¼ lb (560 grams) puff pastry

1 ¾ cups (8.75 ounces, 250 grams) all-purpose flour (extra if needed)
½ cup (130 ml) ice water
14 tablespoons (7 ounces, 200 grams) unsalted butter
½ to 1 teaspoon salt, optional

Place all-purpose flour directly onto a flat surface, preferably a cold material such as a stone or stainless steel countertop. Cut 3.5 tablespoons (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) of the butter in smaller pieces and pinch the butter into the flour until you have a coarse crumb. Don’t over work, you should still have bits of butter in there. Make a well in the crumbly dough and poor in the ice cold water. Work together quickly and form a rough ball. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Shape the remaining butter, 10.5 tablespoons (5.25 ounces, 150 grams) into an approximately 5 inch (about 13 cm) square block. Wrap in plastic foil and refrigerate.

Assembly
Cut a deep cross in the dough ball. Fold every corner out and roll the dough with a rolling pin to an approximately 8 inch (20 cm) square. Place the butter block diagonally on top of the dough. Fold every corner into the middle (without stretching), like folding an envelope. Pinch the seams together slightly.

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1st – 2nd fold
Turn the package up side down. Dust a little flour on both sides and roll it out carefully to approximately 12 inch (about 30 cm) square. Make a three fold (like folding a letter, see diagram). Flatten the fold slightly and fold a 2nd time the other way. Cover the dough and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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3rd – 4th fold
Roll the dough to approximately a 13 inch (33 cm) square. Make one 3 fold one way and another 3 fold the other way. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5th – 6th fold
Repeat as in 3rd – 4th fold.
Let the dough rest again for 30 minutes before using. If using it later, freeze in a well wrapped freezing bag, whole or in pieces with wax paper in between.

tips
* keep all ingredients cold
* don’t overwork the dough
* if your kitchen is very hot you will need to rest the dough in the fridge between every fold.
* if you feel that the dough starts to get too warm, refrigerate immediately
* before baking shaped pastries let them rest for 15 minutes on a cold baking sheet before baking them in the oven, it will keep the shape better

*

suggested things to do with puff pastry

Caramelized Apple Tarte by Clotilde Dusoulier
Palmiers by London Eats
Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese & Honey by Some the Wiser
Joulutorttu (Finnish Christmas Tarts) by My Dear Kitchen in Helsinki
Butternut Squash and Pecorino Tart by Karen Biton-Cohen @ The Kitchn
Almost a Pissalasiere by La Tartine Gourmande

 

Fika with Tea

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On Sunday, March 13, I will be hosting a Tea and Fika event in my kitchen with tea specialist Rachel Safko and Swedish cookie maker Ulrika Pettersson from Unna Bakery (NYC).

Rachel, who recently wrote an article about the Swedish Fika tradition for Edible Manhattan in their latest drink issue, will share some of her knowledge about tea and suggestions for pairing tea with snacks. Ulrika and I will share our experience of fika (Swedish for coffee break) and the Swedish cookie tradition. Together we will guide you through a tasting menu consisting of five different teas paired with treats.

So if you want to learn more about the art of tea and Swedish treats, you are most welcome. We have limited spots for this cozy gathering. Hope to see you there.

SUNDAY, MARCH 13
4-6 p.m. (Please arrive at 4 o’clock)
location: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (you will receive directions with ticket order but it’s close to both C and G).
price: $30 person


SOLD OUT!!!

Please note that the tickets are transferable but not refundable!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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We will set up a special shop prior to the event, where we will have Unna Bakery cookies and signed Fika books for a special price. Johanna is also planning to have a few Fika and Tea related prints available. If you already have the Fika book, please bring it along and she will sign it.

A little background about your hosts

Rachel Safko is a Brooklyn-based journalist and tea specialist, who writes about everything from French couture to ancient Yixing teapots. Her most recent articles include a feature on tea and food pairing for Fresh Cup Magazine and the Swedish art of fika for Edible Manhattan.

Ulrika Pettersson is a Swede who’s been living in New York for the last five years. To honor the Swedish heritage she started Unna Bakery with the purpose of making traditional Swedish cookies. Unna Bakery cookies are handmade in Harlem and use mostly organic ingredients for uncompromised quality.

Johanna Kindvall is an illustrator and recipe creator from Sweden who lives in Brooklyn. Her latest book is Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break (Ten Speed, 2015). The book was a collaboration with food writer Anna Brones. Johanna is also the creator of the illustrated cooking blog Kokblog.

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Similar events

Glöggmingel with Madame Fromage, 2015
How to host a Fika & Cheese Party (Madame Fromage), 2015

 

Skållat Råg Bröd (Rye Bread)

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This Christmas I’m looking forward to being with my family and friends in Sweden. I will fill the house with the right holiday flavor by lighting candles, bake pepparkakor (ginger cookies) and brew glögg spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange and ginger. I will bake dark rye bread (recipe below) and have plenty of mustard herring and slices of aged cheese (with my homemade akvavit). The evenings I will spend in front of the fireplace, crawled up on the couch with a glass of madeira and a handful (or more) of chocolate toffees.

The rye bread is based on a Swedish traditional bread called skållat rågbröd (scalded rye bread). When baking the bread you start by scalding the rye flour with boiling hot water and let it sit over night. This method makes a rich and flavorful bread. Traditionally you bake this kind of bread with mörk sirap (dark syrup) but by using cranberries instead I have given this bread a more fruity flavor.

This bread is excellent with julskinka (salt cured ham that have been cooked in aromatic broth), which is one of the classic spreads on a Swedish julbord (Christmas table). But the bread really works with many other things too, like herring, gravlax, cheese or leftover meatballs.

Last Sunday this bread was part of an food art installation by Ursula Endlicher at Air Circulation gallery in Bushwick here in Brooklyn. Then we topped it with pate, pickled gherkins and fresh pomegranate seeds. I also baked caraway thin crisps and specially created a hazelnut & star anise cookie for her installation.  The show will be on view every Sunday until January 24.

I bake this bread all year around as M and my friends don’t seem to get enough of it. My neighbors have even requested I start selling it as they think it’s the best bread in the neighborhood. (which is quite easy to beat as there is no bread bakery around here that bakes a dark rye bread like this).

Psssst! This bread got listed by Marisa McClellan at Local Mouthful, Philadelphia as one of her favorite things in 2015.  Woohoo!  I’m super honored.

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Skållat Rågbröd with Anise Seeds (Scalded Rye Bread)
adapted from my Rye Bread recipe in Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break*

2 loafs

1st dough
3 cups (720 ml) water
3 cups (12.75 ounces, 362 grams) rye flour
60 gram (2.125 ounces) starter

overnight soak
handful (about) 1/3 cup dried cranberries
5 tablespoons water

2nd dough
3 cups (15 oz, 426 grams) all purpose flour (plus extra as needed)
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoon anise seeds

preparing the 1st dough
Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the rye flour. Work the flour and the water with a large spoon or spatula until even (sticky) dough. Let the dough cool down to about 98°F (37°C) before adding the starter. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Leave at room temperature overnight or at least for 6 to 8 hours.

Soak the cranberries in 5 tablespoon water overnight or for at least a couple of hours.

preparing the 2nd dough
Mix the soaked cranberries in a food processor into a smooth sticky mixture. Crush the anise seeds slightly with a mortar and pestle. In a large wide bowl mix together wheat flour, salt and anise seeds. Add the 1st dough together with the cranberries. Work everything well together until all flour is mixed. Transfer the dough to your counter top and knead the dough with as little extra flour as possible. The dough will be sticky and dense. Let the dough rise for 2-3 hours.

Divide the dough into two pieces and shape into 12-inch long loaves. Dust some flour all around and place them on a well floured tea towel. Cover and and let rise for about 2 hours. The bread will have small cracks on the surface.

About 30 – 60 minutes before baking your bread, set the oven to 450°F (230°C). Place a baking sheet or baking stone into the oven. (please note that a stone will need more time to heat up than a baking sheet).

When it’s time, carefully transfer the shaped loaves onto the hot baking surface. Score (as you like) and bake for 40-50 minutes. The bread should have a dark brown color and if you knock at the bottom of the loaf it should have a hollow sound. Let them cool completely on an oven rack before cutting the bread.

The bread will keep fresh in room temperature for a couple of days. For longer storage, freeze, sliced or whole.

* The original recipe from the Fika book, which is equally addictive is baked with active dry yeast and uses prunes instead of dried cranberries. I have also baked this version at a higher temperature which gives the bread a slightly harder crust.