Have you ever heard of the term “fika” before? I hadn’t myself, or at least not until recently. Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is both a noun and verb used to talk about a Swedish coffee break. While many of us live in a society where coffee is usually synonymous with grande to-go cups and trying to fuel up on caffeine before rushing to the next activity, fika is about slowing down (with coffee and treats!).
Similar to an afternoon tea, fika is a daily ritual (at least in Sweden) and typically consists of a cup of coffee (or even tea), pastry and/or a small sandwich. Enjoyed either by one’s self or with friends, it is so much more than just a coffee break. It’s about hitting pause on the hustle and bustle, even for just a moment. Pastries and coffee? Now tell me, who wouldn’t want to take a fika break every day?! Let’s take this concept global!
Swedish fika is not just coffee; it is also about what the coffee is served with. A typical fika pairing includes cinnamon buns, tea cakes, almond pastries, biscuits or cookies, quick breads, and small sandwiches. For this post, I set out to create my own fika-worthy pastry. I wanted to create a yeasted pastry - something a bit more special than your average muffin or go-to banana bread.
To be honest, I used to be a little intimidated by yeast, until one day I bought myself a jar of Fleischmann’s quick-rise yeast. Since then, I’ve been making my own pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, bread wreaths, etc. and have never looked back. What I like most about the quick-rise yeast is how simple and approachable it actually is to use. It is easily mixed straight into my dry ingredients and gets kneaded together right away with just the addition of warmed milk (and butter, in this case). I always read recipes telling me to find a warm spot for the dough to rise. But this is Canada, and a warm spot is not always an option, I find that my dough still rises beautifully with the help of Fleischmann’s quick-rise yeast no matter where it is left to do it’s thing.
Since I’ve been into this concept of fika as of late, I decided to make Swedish Cardamom Buns instead of your typical cinnamon roll. They are still similar (minus the gobs of cream cheese icing), but these buns are spiced with herby, citrusy cardamom and take on that gorgeous twist. The twisting does take some getting used to (and be sure the ends are tucked or they may “unravel” when baked), but the results are dramatic and impressive. Best served with a side of coffee and at least a few minutes of relaxation!
Swedish Cardamom Buns
makes about 16 to 20 buns
For the Dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons Fleischmann’s quick rise yeast
¼ cup sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg yolk (save egg white for glaze)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
For the Filling:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
large pinch of salt
For the Glaze:
1 egg white
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
scant teaspoon ground cardamom
scant teaspoon rose sugar (optional)
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, flour, cardamom, cinnamon, sugar, and salt.
2. Gently heat the milk and the butter to about 120 to 130 degrees.
3. One warm, stir in the milk mixture, egg yolk, and vanilla into the dry ingredients.
4. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together.
5. Turn out the dough on a clean work surface. Knead the dough until soft, supple, and some-what smooth (about 4 to 6 minutes). If the dough appears too dry or tough, add in the second tablespoon of oil, a little at a time).
6. Lightly grease a clean, large mixing bowl and place the dough inside.
7. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm corner of your kitchen (or home). Let rest for 10 minutes.
8. Once the dough rises, divide in half and knead (about 5 folds). Let rest a few minutes before rolling.
9. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
10. Meanwhile, make the filling. Stir together the butter, sugar, spices, and salt until combined and paste-like.
11. Roll out the dough on a lightly dusted work surface into a 9” by 14” rectangle.
12. Spread on the half filling on top, leaving a half-inch border around the edges.
13. Mark the edge of the long side into thirds (at the 7-inch and 14-inch marks), then fold into the thirds, like a letter.
14. Roll out the folded dough to about 10” by 14” rectangle
15. Cut the dough into twelve 3/4-inch wide strips (going across the long edge)
16. With each strip, begin to twist and lengthen it slightly. Holding one end between your thumb and index finger, wrap the twisted dough around your three middle fingers, 1 to 1 1/2 times. Slip out your thumb and tuck the end under to create a knotted bun. Place on the line baking sheets and continue. Repeat with second half of the dough and filling.
17. Cover the knotted buns with a clean tea towel and let rise again for about 45 minutes.
18. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
19. Once the buns have risen again, make the glaze my whisking the egg white with a splash of milk. Combine the sugar, cardamom, and rose sugar (if using).
20. Gently brush on the egg wash over each bun with a pastry brush then generously sprinkle with the sugar mixture.
21. Bake for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by ACH Foods. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Style Sweet Ca possible.