What Is Fika? Get the Ins and Outs of the Swedish Espresso Motion That’s Having a Second

On the threat of lobbing a journal prompt, what are a couple of of your individual character traits that you simply love? Personally, I like that I’m loyal and trustworthy. I suppose my youngsters would say I’m a reasonably good mother… at the least once I’ve had my required 8 hours of sleep. There’s additionally one other factor I like that’s much less about who I’m and extra about my household origins—my Swedish ancestry. And it’s why I wished to share the Scandi scoop on what’s Fika immediately.

My mother’s half-Swedish bloodline has at all times been an excellent supply of delight for me. Rising up, tales about my Swedish grandfather, Fritz surrounded us. The trials and tribulations he went by means of to realize his model of the American Dream had been regaled—how his household emigrated from Småland, Sweden to Ellis Island and pulled themselves up by their very own bootstraps of their new residence of Jamestown, New York; how Fritz was raised by two Swedish-speaking dad and mom who by no means discovered English; and the way he was the primary college-bound member of the family who earned a Harvard medical diploma, main him to assist choose and monitor the primary astronauts in area. My mother discovered small methods to honor her father by nodding to Swedish sensibilities to maintain the reminiscence alive like serving Swedish Skorpa with nearly each household dinner and instructing us cheers and songs in Swedish.

So once I got here throughout the attractive cookbook-meets-craft e book, Scandinavian Gatherings: From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast in an indie gift shop in Ojai, I knew it wanted to be mine. I drooled over every of the colourful pages in Melissa Bahen’s enlivening e book and commenced plotting my Swedish vacation dinners with candles and head wreaths, and midsummer events (with extra head wreaths and maypoles). One of the vital eye-catching notions of her e book was the artwork of the Swedish espresso break, broadly identified there as Fika.

After I arrived residence again in Austin, I excitedly emailed this Scandi sage, and to my delight, Melissa wrote me again. It seems that Melissa has a wildly fashionable blog, two published books, and usually writes about her life in Oregon’s countryside imbued along with her Scandinavian heritage. 

Melissa generously agreed to let me peer into her mind to provide the total Fika panorama together with recommendations on how we are able to incorporate Fika into our day by day lives irrespective of the place we reside. Take it away, Melissa…

Melissa, what precisely is Fika?

Fika is a espresso break however it’s not like our American espresso break the place you simply go seize some espresso within the break room at work by your self—it’s extra social than that. Fika is mainly getting espresso and one thing tasty to eat, like a pastry or a slice of cake, with pals or coworkers. 

Fika doesn’t actually translate to a selected English phrase. For those who kind it into Google Translate, you’ll get “espresso,” however espresso in Swedish isn’t “Fika,” it’s “Kaffe.” I’ve learn in a few locations that the phrase “Fika” got here from shuffling the letters in “Kaffe” or the slang model “Kaffi” and began getting used within the 1800s. I don’t know if that’s a reality or legend! Regardless of the true origin of the phrase is, Fika means grabbing a espresso and a snack and having a calming hangout with somebody. It’s each a noun (“This cinnamon roll shall be good for Fika.”) and a verb (“Let’s Fika tomorrow!”). It’s a espresso date!

And what’s the historical past behind Fika?

Espresso was first delivered to Sweden as an import within the late 1600s, however it had type of a rocky begin within the nation. At first, solely the aristocracy may afford it and solely males may drink it, then the federal government truly enacted a couple of completely different bans on espresso. Espresso was lastly problem-free in Sweden within the early 1800s, and Sweden is now one of the crucial coffee-loving nations on the planet. Espresso homes that solely served espresso gave strategy to outlets that served each espresso and pastries, and Fika was born.

How does one partake in Fika?

You are taking a break from work, whether or not that’s working on the workplace, working at residence, or learning at college, seize your favourite espresso and one thing scrumptious to eat, and chill out with coworkers or pals. That’s it! It’s fairly easy.

What’s the most superb location for Fika?

You’ll be able to Fika wherever you might be. A lot of workplaces have Fika breaks constructed into their employees’ schedules, and when you’re at residence you may simply set an alarm in your telephone so that you don’t neglect. One of the vital pretty issues about Fika is that it’s intentional break time. Your solely jobs throughout Fika are to eat, drink, and luxuriate in whoever’s firm you’re with, even when that firm is simply your self. Fika exterior on a pleasant day is particularly enjoyable!

Picture by Charity Burggraaf, ©2016 by Melissa Bahen. Excerpted from Scandinavian Gatherings by permission of Sasquatch Books

Set the scene—what does a perfect Fika scenario appear to be?

As you’ll anticipate from Sweden, Fika is completely informal, but in addition cool. You actually don’t want something tremendous particular; it isn’t as formal as British excessive tea. That being mentioned, if you’d like some cute coffee mugs or teacups, snack plates, and napkins in your Fika, whether or not you might be at residence or on the workplace, it is best to get some! Older generations suppose an identical cup and saucer is a must have, and there are many actually stunning Scandinavian cup and saucer combos on the market. Scandinavian design may be very stylish!

For those who’re having pals over to your own home for Fika, you may completely get fancier! Once more, this isn’t excessive tea, however tremendous cute cups or mugs, plates, napkins, enjoyable flowers, scrumptious foods and drinks thoughtfully introduced, and—most of all—nice firm will make for a memorable time. Suppose: effortlessly cool.

What are the most effective meals for Fika?

A few of my favourite Fika meals are pastries like Swedish kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) or fruit danishes, sweetbreads like Finnish pulla (a sugar-topped, braided cardamom bread), espresso desserts, fast breads, and savory open-faced sandwiches referred to as smørrebrød. And Scandinavians love their cookies, so cookies are at all times appreciated. Consider your favourite espresso home or bakery deal with, and also you’ve acquired the proper concept. Home made baked items are actually the star of the Fika present, however for anybody who’s kitchen-challenged, good treats from a bakery work too.

And naturally, what do you drink to accompany these meals?

Clearly, espresso is a should! However for non-coffee-drinkers, a pleasant collection of teas is nice. Sodas or seltzers or fancy waters would additionally work. Something particular. Simply don’t neglect the espresso!

Are there meals sources obtainable to folks within the USA the place they will purchase conventional Swedish meals?

All the recipes in my e book, Scandinavian Gatherings use substances that it is best to be capable of discover simply, largely at your native grocery retailer. If do-it-yourself treats are what you’re after, it’s simple to create genuine Fika recipes at residence. However if you’d like store-bought treats, a few of my favorites embrace IKEA (everyone’s favourite), World Market, and native Scandinavian outlets, bakeries, and even museum outlets. For those who don’t have any outlets in your space that inventory Swedish or Scandinavian meals, you could find a number of favorites on-line at Ingebretsens.com, Scandinavianfoodstore.com, and Scandinavianbutik.com.

What are another sources you’re keen on for all issues Scandi meals, tradition and design?

Listed below are a couple of of my faves: 

  • Niki Brantmark @myscandinavianhome for stunning Scandinavian life-style and residential design. Completely attractive and so peaceable.
  • The e book Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall has so many good recipes and fantastic cultural tidbits. It got here out whereas I used to be writing the manuscript for Scandinavian Gatherings, and I wouldn’t let myself learn it till I completed my remaining draft!
  • Really, I like the cultural choices from the Scandinavian societies and social golf equipment within the Pacific Northwest. I encourage everybody who’s to hunt out and grow to be concerned with no matter native Scandinavian organizations are of their space. They at all times have actually enjoyable hands-on alternatives, like studying conventional crafts and cooking strategies, and the individuals are so candy.

Try a few of Melissa’s tried-and-true recipes to Fika proper in your individual residence.

Picture by Charity Burggraaf, ©2016 by Melissa Bahen. Excerpted from Scandinavian Gatherings by permission of Sasquatch Books

Spiced Apple Espresso Cake

“Espresso desserts are a Fika must-have, and this one, with heat spices, bits of tart apple, and a candy, sugary crumb topping is irresistible. You’ll end up eager to sneak a bit for dessert and one other for breakfast!”

Serves 12-16


for the crumb topping:

1 ¼ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, melted

for the cake:

1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup bitter cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced

for the icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 ½-2 Tablespoons milk


1. To make the crumb topping, mix flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and blend with a fork till mixed; put aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9×13” baking pan. 

3. In a big bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium pace till fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs one after the other, beating for 10 seconds after every addition. Add bitter cream and vanilla, and beat till mixed.

4. Mix all dry substances in a medium bowl. Add dry substances to the mixer, and beat on low pace till mixed. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat once more briefly. 

5. Fold in apples. 

6. Unfold batter evenly within the baking pan, and high with reserved crumble topping. Bake at 350°F for 40-43 minutes, till a skewer inserted within the heart of the cake comes out clear. Permit to chill.

7. Whereas the cake is cooling, make the icing. Whisk the powdered sugar and milk collectively in a small bowl till easy. When the cake is heat however not sizzling, drizzle the icing excessive. Permit the cake to chill fully earlier than chopping and serving.

Picture by Charity Burggraaf, ©2016 by Melissa Bahen. Excerpted from Scandinavian Gatherings by permission of Sasquatch Books

Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid (Wienerbrød)

“Breakfast pastries full of apples or berries or sweetened cheeses, drizzled with frosting or topped with cinnamon and spiced crumbs: we name them “danishes” as a result of they arrive from Denmark. However Scandinavians name them “wienerbrød,” or Viennese bread, as a result of they historically have layer after layer of flaky dough within the model of Austrian baked items. No matter what you name them, danish pastries are scrumptious. This spectacular braided model from my buddy Christina makes use of a candy roll dough as its base as an alternative of the laminated dough danish pastries historically use, so it’s a lot simpler to make and each bit as fairly.”

Makes 2 massive braided loaves


for the dough:

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 Tablespoon yeast
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda

for the filling:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
6 oz raspberry jam

for the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla


1. To make the dough, start by heating the buttermilk gently till it’s the temperature of a heat bathtub. The quickest approach is to do that is to microwave the milk for 45-50 seconds. Add the yeast to the nice and cozy buttermilk together with a pinch of sugar, and let sit 5 minutes till bubbly. (See web page xx for recommendations on making yeast breads.)

2. Whereas the yeast is proofing, beat the butter and sugar in a big bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium pace for about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and beat on medium pace till easy, 1 minute. Scrape down the edges of the bowl with a spatula midway by means of.

3. In a medium bowl, mix 4 cups of flour, salt, and baking soda.

4. With the mixer on low pace, step by step add the dry substances to the bowl, then add the yeast combination. Beat till easy.

5. If utilizing a stand mixer, change to the dough hook attachment. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour somewhat at a time till the dough is not sticky when flippantly touched, and pulls away from the edges of the bowl.

6. Place the dough in a flippantly oiled bowl, and let rise till doubled in quantity, 1-1 ½ hours.

7. Whereas the dough is rising, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl till easy. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat till easy. Reserve the melted butter and jam for step 10.

8. When the dough has doubled in quantity, punch it down, flip it out onto a well-floured floor, and knead till easy and comfortable. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll every portion out into a big rectangle, about 12×15” and ¼” thick, and switch every to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

9. Utilizing a butter knife, flippantly divide every rectangle into 3 equal parts lengthwise. You don’t wish to lower during the dough; you simply wish to mark it. Use a pizza wheel to chop the left and proper parts of every rectangle into 1” horizontal strips. Remember to lower the identical variety of strips on each the left and proper sides of the dough. Lower the highest strips on each the left and proper sides off of every rectangle, leaving simply the 1” strip of dough within the heart. Repeat on the underside of every rectangle.

10. Brush the complete floor of each rectangles with the melted butter reserved from step 7. Divide the cream cheese combination in half, and unfold it out alongside the middle portion of every rectangle, staying 1” away from the highest and backside. You may need to make use of your arms to pat the filling out evenly. Spoon half of the jam on high of the cream cheese combination and unfold it out evenly.

11. Start by folding the highest flap down 1” and the underside flap up 1”. Fold the highest left strip of dough over the middle. Cross the dough over the middle at a slight downward angle in order that it simply touches the subsequent strip down on the proper. Fold the highest proper strip down in the identical method. Alternate folding over left and proper strips all the best way down the pastry. Once you get to the final strip of dough on both sides, cross it over as common and tuck any further dough beneath the pastry.

12. Cowl with plastic wrap and set in a heat spot to rise for 45 minutes. About quarter-hour earlier than the danishes are executed rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

13. Bake the pastries for 18-20 minutes, till puffed and golden. Take away from oven and permit to chill.

14. Whereas the Danish braids are cooling, make the icing. In a medium bowl, whisk collectively powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla till easy. When braids are cool sufficient to the touch, drizzle with icing. Serve heat or at room temperature.

Picture by Charity Burggraaf, ©2016 by Melissa Bahen. Excerpted from Scandinavian Gatherings by permission of Sasquatch Books

Open-Confronted Sandwiches With Herbed Cream Cheese and Child Cucumbers

“After I was rising up, at any time when my siblings and I had a household heritage or nations of the world venture to do at college, we at all times selected Norway as our matter. And we at all times made positive to say open-faced sandwiches. They made a giant impression on our younger minds. Open-faced sandwiches are part of day by day life all throughout Scandinavia. You’ll be able to eat them for breakfast, lunch, or a day snack. You should use sliced bread or crisp crackers, and any variety of toppings, from butter and cheese to radishes and hard-boiled eggs. This model incorporates a do-it-yourself cream cheese unfold full of recent herbs.”

Serves 4


1 8-oz package deal cream cheese, softened
1 scallion, finely minced
1 Tablespoons finely chopped recent parsley
1 Tablespoon snipped recent chives
1 Tablespoon finely snipped recent dill, plus extra for garnish
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon recent lemon juice
a pinch of salt
freshly floor black pepper
child cucumbers
crispbread crackers


1. In a medium bowl, mix all substances besides child cucumbers, crispbread crackers, and a small quantity of recent dill for garnish. Combine till every part is evenly distributed. Cowl and chill combination at the least 1 hour earlier than serving.

2. Thinly slice the child cucumbers.

3. Unfold 1-2 Tablespoons of the cream cheese combination on a crispbread cracker. Prime with child cucumber slices, and sprinkle with reserved recent dill. Eat instantly.


As an alternative of the child cucumbers, high the herbed cream cheese combination with smoked salmon and really thinly sliced crimson onions.

For a heartier snack, use skinny slices of European rye bread as an alternative of the crispbread crackers. It may be discovered on the bread aisle of higher-end grocery shops and is normally packaged in little bricks. It tastes finest flippantly toasted.



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