Category Archives: sweet

Fika: Cardamom Biscuits

kindvall-biscuit-diagram-5

A couple of years ago I had the honor to have lunch with Russell at London Eats here in Brooklyn. It felt like we had known each other for years. Like me, he is very much into baking. And he does it pretty well. In December he has the wonderful tradition of baking 12 cakes and cookies, which he share on his blog. As Russell lived in Sweden for a while, you can also find some Scandinavian pastries on his site as well.

The other day I baked Cardamom Biscuits based on one of Russell’s recipes. But don’t confuse this kind of biscuit with a typical American biscuit. In UK a biscuit is a sweet or savory small cracker (or cookie) while in US a biscuit is like a small soft scone. In Sweden you call it kex.

The recipe is based on Russell’s recipe for Abernethy biscuits. Instead of using Caraway seeds, which is the tradition for this kind of biscuit, I used cardamom as the flavor. The result was fantastic. It really is a perfect snappy biscuit that works beautifully together with a strong cup of tea, coffee or a glass of milk.

kindvall-biscuits

Cardamom Biscuits
(about  40)

Adapted from  Russell’s (London Eats’) Abernethy biscuits

240 grams (little more than 1 2/3 cup) all purpose flour + extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
85 grams (3 ounces) butter
85 grams (3 ounces) caster sugar
2 teaspoons whole cardamom, crushed
one egg
one tablespoon milk

Mix together flour and baking powder in a bowl. With your fingertips rub in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal (a little like breadcrumbs as Russell describes it).  Mix in the sugar and the crushed cardamom.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and add it together with the milk to the flour mixture. Work the dough together with your hands until you can shape it into soft ball.  If the dough feel too sticky or too dry, add more flour or milk.  Wrap the ball in plastic wrap. Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (355ºF). Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

On a floured flat surface roll half the dough thinly (less than 1/2 cm thick, about 1/8 inch). Cut out rounds with a small glass. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet and make neat patterns with a wood skewer. Repeat until all dough is all used up.

Bake the biscuits for about 10 – 15 minutes. The should have a nice color. Watch them carefully so they don’t get too dark. You may need to turn the baking sheet once to get an even color.

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also check out my other fika related recipes here.

 

Fika: Fyriskaka with Pear

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Last Saturday I hosted a classic kafferep (Swedish coffee gathering with cakes and cookies) to celebrate the release of my book Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. I had such a great time talking cookies and cakes while sipping bubbles (not the usual drink for this kind of party but essential when you need to celebrate). For the party I had baked up a selection of the cakes from the book. For e.g. there were Cardamom buns, Finska pinnar, Syltgrottor, Muskotsnittar, Anis & Hazelnut Biscotti, Hazelnut & Coffee Cake, Almond tart and Sticky Chocolate Cake (my neighbor’s son wanted to move in with me after having his first bite).

During the first week, the book made it into New York Times’ T Magazine (review by Lindsey Tramuta), Huffington Post (review by Alison Spiegel), Eater (review by Kat Odell) and many more. The book was also mentioned in the Swedish evening post Expressen.

I’m super flattered and happy how well our book has been received so far.

Yesterday I decided to make another version of the Swedish classic Fyriskaka. Fyriskaka is traditionally made with apples (recipe in the book) that are coated with cinnamon. In my version below I’m using pears instead of apples. I’m also suggesting a new topping, cardamom and pearl sugar (pärlsocker). If you can’t get hold of pearl sugar I suggest you use brown sugar. Its not the same, but equally tasty).

Fyriskaka with Pear
(adapted from the recipe in Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall, page 94)

9 tablespoons (4½ ounces, 128 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds, crushed
3 to 4 medium-size pears (about 14 oz, (400 grams)
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces, 132 grams) natural cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (5 ounces, 142 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

topping
1-2 tablespoons pearl sugar (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9-inch (23-centimeter) springform pan.

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

Peel the pears and slice them thinly. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar with the cinnamon; then add the pears and carefully turn them so that they are evenly coated. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the slightly cooled butter and cane sugar. Add the eggs one by one, whisking until evenly blended. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir together carefully until you get a smooth batter.

Spread the batter in the baking pan. Place the pear slices in the batter in a circular formation; the pieces should be close together. Sprinkle the pearl sugar and crushed cardamom on top.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

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Want more fika ideas? Click the coffee cup icon here to the left, and you will get several of my other fika related recipes.

Links
Behind the Scenes of the making of Fika
R
ead also Anna Brones’ version here

Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break (Behind the Scene)

Fika – The Art of the Swedish coffee break is finally here. It has been a long and wonderful journey together with my dear collaborator Anna Brones. We both thought it would be nice to share our stories behind the scenes on how we created this book. Please read Anna’s version here.

The book Fika is a celebration of the Swedish coffee break, fika. Something that most Swedes do daily, sometimes even twice. At work, at home or together with a friend, it doesn’t matter where and when and how, for a Swede this break is essential. And the best fika comes with a treat, sweet or savory.

To have a fika was something I really missed when I came to work in an architecture office in NYC several years ago. Colleagues always drank their coffee alone at their desks. Eventually some agreed to share a coffee break with me, but it almost always meant we were hanging out by our desks, sharing a muffin. I even started a kaffekassa (it’s a box where you collect money for coffee and cakes) which I shared with my closest friend at the office. And we used it for daily treats.

So when Anna, who is a Swedish/American food writer and a dedicated coffee drinker, invited me to collaborate on this project I instantly said yes. It was really about time the world learned about the art of fika.

For the proposal, I helped Anna choose a few recipes that we thought symbolized homemade fika. I illustrated them and included a few other illustrations that worked with Anna’s proposal.

After some edits back and forth we were ready to ship the proposal out to an extensive list of publishers and agents (yes some publishers still want actual printed copies). We both continued our different lives, Anna in Portland and myself in the East Village. Anna reported some rejections but otherwise nothing. We were quite cool about the whole thing and we talked about other potential projects. Just when we both were about to start working on the book, The Culinary Cyclist (Elly Blue Publishing 2013), I got an email from Kaitlin Ketchum, editor at Ten Speed Press. She had just been treated to a fika and remembered our proposal. A couple of months later we had a book contract.

 

When it was time to start, I was just moving into our new place in Brooklyn, which was still under construction. With no functional kitchen, no gas and no water.

Yes I panicked!

But just a few days later I had a working stove, a sink with running water and my old drawing desk as a baking table. Not particularly perfect but I learned that to develop fika recipes during construction wasn’t that bad. In fact it was kind of perfect as there was always something sweet to share with the workers (mostly my husband, our friend Frank and me) when it was time for fika, which we held at 10am and 3pm every day, in the sun on the stoop or on rainy days sitting inside on paint buckets.

The recipes we picked for the book are cakes and cookies that we grew up with, cakes that we regularly bake ourselves or treats we always enjoy eating. Classics like vetebullar (Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns, page 26) but also some new (for e.g. Hazelnut & Coffee Cake page 60). We probably developed over 70 recipes and almost 50 made it into the book. Some of the rejections weren’t bad, they just didn’t fit in. They were not Scandinavian enough or too much like a dessert. Some classics where ditched as they weren’t things we actually bake ourselves, for e.g. the Swedish konditori classic, wienerbröd (which is what a Swede and Danish calls a danish). However one day I will master the art of baking puff pastries!

Anna worked on half the recipes in her tiny Paris kitchen, while I worked on the other half. At some point we swapped our recipes and continued developing the other person’s recipe.

Over the summer, Anna and I spent one week together in Sweden and we worked on a few recipes together for e.g. Fyriskaka (a classic apple cake with cinnamon, page 94). It was summer and we enjoyed having chilled rhubarb cordial (page 82), coffee and cakes every day in our garden, overlooking the pond and enjoying Swedish summer fika at its best.

The rest of the time we developed the work by having regular Skype meetings, sharing notes and baking progress with pictures on our communal work site, that I had set up as a way to keep track of the work.

During the whole process I was constantly drawing cakes and cookies. But at one point I decided to take a break from baking to spend time drawing. So in the beginning of Autumn 2013, I isolated myself in our country cottage with a pantry well stocked with cookies and drew nonstop for over a month. I barely saw anyone, and left my desk only to have something to eat or put a new log into the fireplace. I kind of liked it.

At about the same time, Anna was working on the content and when I was back in Brooklyn I could concentrate more on helping her with proofreading and editing. I don’t know how many times we went through everything page by page, chapter by chapter and recipe by recipe. I also corrected, changed and added several new illustrations when we at the end of this journey, when we were working more closely with our editor Kaitlin and Elizabeth Stromberg, our book designer.

Now with the book in my hand, it’s nice to see how well our work was treated. Kaitlin, Elizabeth and all the rest at Ten Speed Press, you did a beautiful job turning our vision into this book.

I’m especially thankful for Anna who invited me into the project and who wrote about it so beautifully. And for Kaitlin who remembered our proposal when she had her first fika moment!

I hope you will enjoy this book and that it will inspire you to take that daily break, we Swedes call fika.

Want your own copy of Fika?

In celebration of Fika’s release, we are giving away a couple of books! Post a photo of your fika on Instagram, and be sure to hashtag #artoffika as well as tag @johannakindvall and @annabrones so we are sure to see your photos. Not on Instagram? Tell us about your favorite thing for fika in the comments below.
Note that we can only ship books to North America. Entries must be received by April 14, 2015.

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upcoming Fika events

Paris
Fika launch party at La Tresorerie/Cafe Smörgås
April 11 at 10am-5pm,11 Rue du Château d’Eau, 75010 Paris.
Anna will be there and treat you special treats!

Manhattan
Fika at  Fika Tower’s Loft  – 824 10th Avenue btw 54 and 55 th Street
Monday May 4, at 3 to 5pm
Anna and me will both be there, with books while having coffee and cookies.

Brooklyn
Fika @ Budin
Wednesday May 6, at 5 to 7pm , 114 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn
Anna and me will both be there, with books while having coffee and cookies.

Fika at the bar of 61 Local
May 7, btw 6 – 8 pm, 61 Bergen Street, Brooklyn
Anna and me will be there, with books while having beer and cookies.

Seattle
Fika at Book Larder
May 12, at 6:30 to 8pm, 4252 Fremont Ave N, Seattle.
Anna will be there and talk Fika

The book is available in many bookstores in the US and around the world. You can also find it in most online bookstores: Random House, Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

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talks about fika

NY Times Style Magazine
Huffington Post
EcoSalon
Eater

Cool Hunting
edible Michiana
Interview with both Anna & me @ Slow Travel Stockholm
Saveur Magazine

Classic Chocolate Mousse

© Johanna Kindvall

My grandmother always served chocolate coffee mousse for dessert and I loved it. But as a kid, I didn’t really like coffee on its own. The first time I ever drank coffee I kept adding sugar to make it taste better… it just made it worse and it took me years to recover. Today, now that I have learnt to love coffee (especially strong and black), I still can’t imagine drinking coffee with sugar.

Oh well, coffee in cakes, ice cream or chocolate mousse is a always a treat (and in my upcoming book which I co-authored together with Anna Brones, Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break we share a delicious Hazelnut Coffee Cake recipe). When I started to make chocolate mousse this winter I ended up not flavoring it at all. I just liked it as it was. Thick, chocolaty and totally comforty! The recipe I’m using, is an old classic formula which you can find in Elizabeth David’s book French Provincial Cooking. The recipe is simply described with a few words:

“4 yolks beaten into 4 oz. of melted bitter chocolate, and the 4 whipped whites folded in.”

Her recipe serves 4, which makes this a super clever recipe. You just need to count one egg and one ounce chocolate (about 30 grams) per person.

The illustrated recipe diagram above suggests adding one teaspoon of sugar per serving, which I learnt from Felicity Cloake’s How to make perfect chocolate mousse article in the Guardian.

And I’m sure a little bit of cold coffee, some drops of rum or juice of an orange will work fine to spice it up. As I said, I like it just plain or topped with star anise infused black berries.

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check also out these chocolate mousse links

Chocolate Mousse (coffee & dark rum) by David Lebovitz (adapted from Julia Childs recipe)
Spizy Boozy Mousse (coffee, cinnamon & ancho chili) by Sara Kate Gillingham @ theKitchn
Swedish Chef making Chocolate Moose – Muppet Show (video)

If you are afraid to get Salmonella by using raw eggs, you can pasteurize them. (I get fresh organic eggs that are free from hormones and antibiotics).

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The Art of Swedish Holiday Baking (Recipe for Ginger Spice Cake)

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Despite different time zones, my book collaborator Anna Brones and I always find time to bake “together”. And for our regular skype meetings we always treat ourselves with strong coffee and something sweet to nibble.  This week we are celebrating a little extra; Fika just got listed in Saveur Magazine‘s 100 cooks’ edition list! (issue 171, January & February 2015). We wish you all a wonderful and sweet Holiday and a Happy New Year.

Julbak: The Art of Swedish Holiday Baking (With a Recipe for Ginger Spice Cake)
Text by Anna Brones

If there’s one thing that’s essential to a good December in Sweden, it’s julbak. It might come as no surprise that “Christmas baking” is of the utmost importance in a country where December is cold and very dark month; what’s better on a chilly winter day than a warm kitchen wafting of freshly baked gingersnaps? Not a whole lot. Well, except for a kitchen wafting of freshly baked gingersnaps AND a pot of glögg.

Holidays, no matter what they are and what culture they are celebrated in, are often linked to certain foods. The act of preparing a particular dish ties us to the tradition and the celebration. While we may find ourselves far from family, friends and the place that the tradition comes from, if we prepare a certain food, we are immediately transported back.

Julbak is this kind of tradition, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Swede, whether they’re living in Sweden or elsewhere, that isn’t craving pepparkakor come the month of December.

While julbak can consist of a whole variety of baked goods, there are a few Swedish classics that are indicative of this time of year:

Pepparkakor – Swedish gingersnaps, rolled out thinly and cut into traditional shapes like hearts, pigs and adorable gingermen and gingerwomen. Ready to try pepparkakorHere’s a recipe.

© Johanna Kindvall

Lussekatter – Also known as lussebullar or saffransbullar, these are the beautiful sweet buns baked into a golden yellow. The color comes from the addition of saffron, and the buns are decorated with currants. They are commonly baked for St. Lucia day. Here’s a recipe if you’re feeling up for it.

kindvall-lussekatter

Glögg – While the Swedish mulled wine isn’t a baked good, you can’t eat all of the julbak treats without a nice mug of glögg to go with them. Here’s a recipe to try.

Of course, the problem with both pepparkakor and lussekatter is that you need time to bake them, and not everyone always has it. But because the flavors are so iconic, in the modern Swedish baking world, you’ll see saffron and the spices used pepparkakor incorporated in a variety of creative ways in other recipes, all helping you get the traditional flavors of December with a little less kitchen work.

Last December, Johanna and I were caught up testing all of our classic Christmas recipes for our book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break – which is coming out in just a few months – so this year we thought it might be fun to do something a little different. In Sweden, the pepparkaka can take many forms. In our book for example we have the classic version as well as the softer ginger cookie, which the Swedes smartly call a lunchpepparkaka, because it’s so dense you can in fact eat it for lunch. This recipe takes the form of a soft ginger cake, but still includes all the spices normally used in a traditional pepparkaka. The end result is a tasty gingersnap spice cake of sorts. Perfect with glögg or just a strong cup of coffee.

Anna & Johanna’s Ginger Spice Cake
makes one 6-cup Bundt cake

10½ tablespoons (5¼ ounces, 148 grams) unsalted butter
3 egg yolks, room temperature
¼ cup (2½ ounces, 70 grams) honey
2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoon milk
¾ cup (3¾ ounces, 106 grams) all-purpose flour
3 egg whites, room temperature
¾  cup (5¼ ounces, 148 grams) natural cane sugar 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour the Bundt pan. 

In a bowl, cream together the butter with the honey until well blended. Add the egg yolks one by one followed by the milk and the spices. Mix the batter together.

Sift the flour, then stir it carefully into the batter, stirring as little as possible until you get an even and sticky batter. The batter is quite stiff but will get lighter in the next step. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, ideally with an electric mixer. When soft peaks form, add the cane sugar little by little. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the sugar and egg white mixture into the batter and keep folding until the batter is evenly blended. Be careful not to overstir. Pour directly into the Bundt pan. 

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake is done when a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted at the thickest part of the cake. If the cake starts to get a golden brown color earlier (which can happen after 20 minutes), remove it from the oven, cover it with aluminum foil, and put back in the oven. This will prevent the top of the cake from burning. 

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for a bit before inverting it onto a plate.

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more by Anna Brones and me

ToscaKaka with Orange (recipe)
Kanelbullar (recipe)
Mazariner (recipe)
Semlor (recipe)
Amuse Bouche (illustrated food caption series, Foodie Underground 2012-2013)
Fika – The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break (about the book and where to pre-order)