'Fika' - Pronounced fee-ka.
Fika is a social institution in Sweden. It means to take a break, often a coffee break, with colleagues, friends or family. It happens many times a day and is most often accompanied by some sort of sweet Swedish treat.
I have wonderful memories of taking fika breaks during my exchange year in Sweden - there would be morning fika at the schools cafe, afternoon fika with Mamma Ewa at home after school, early evening fika at Ingrid's house across the road and late night fika with Pappa Rolf while we watched TV. The best part about fika? How often this sweet break is taken throughout the day.
My most favourite treat to have with fika (and possibly Sweden's most popular) is kanelbullar or Cinnamon Buns. In Sweden, these delicious single serves of sweet breaded goodness are found everywhere. They are most often presented in individual paper casings and sprinkled with dots of white pearl sugar. I was lucky enough to be taught how to make them from my dear friend Anna, who passed on her late mothers recipe to me. Sadly, I left this recipe in Australia, so I have had to find another source... I also didn't have any pearl sugar or paper casings on hand, so they turned out a little un-decorated and a little bit big... Anyway, they still remind me of absolute heaven and the way Anna taught me to eat them back in Sweden - fresh from the oven, served with a big glass of milk.
Here is the recipe:
prep time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including 2 hours rising time)
cook time: 10 minutes
total time: 2 hours 40 minutes
yields: 8 buns
For the Dough
7g dry active yeast
500mls whole milk
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter, softened
For the Filling
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 large egg, beaten
Pearl sugar (if you can get your hands on some, otherwise you could use large sugar granules or you can also forgo the decorating part)
Warm the milk in a saucepan until approximately 35°C (95°F) (a good way to tell when the milk is warm enough is when it is around body temperature/the tip of your finger). Take the milk off of the heat and wisk in the yeast with a tea spoon of the sugar. Let it sit in a warm area for about 5 minutes, or until frothy bubbles form on the surface.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt. Add the milk yeast mixture and stir in the butter. Knead the dough until elastic and slightly sticky, about 15 minutes by hand or 8 minutes with an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a dish towel, and allow it to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a medium bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Turn the risen dough out and, with a floured rolling pin, roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄4 inch thick. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, reaching all the way to the edges, then, beginning with one of the long sides, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 8 pieces.
Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and arrange the bullar on the sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Cover them with a clean dish towel and allow them to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 204°C (400°F). Brush the bullar with the beaten egg and sprinkle them with pearl sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized. Serve warm with friends as part of fika, with a glass of milk, coffee or cup of tea.