Fika. It’s an important part of any Swede’s life, nearly enough a vital part of every single day (if you’re strong enough to handle it!) It’s both a verb and a noun, so you can take fika, but you can also fika itself, and it basically (usually) comprises of a coffee break (or less traditionally, some sort of drink) alongside something sweet, whether a light biscuit or few, or to go all the way, a bakelse–a slice of cake. Sometimes, even a small meal can be included as fika. It’s a little bit of what you want goes as you take fika.
Since the cakes-and-coffee tradition is so important in Sweden, and rather different from what you have elsewhere apart from the other Scandinavian countries, I thought I’d document these descents into a sugar coma.
Above are some of the most famous and most popular bakelse around–to the left, green Prinsesstårta, and a Napoleon bakelse to the right. The Prinsesstårta is one of the most easily recognised cakes of Sweden, sometimes found in small frozen versions in various branches of IKEA across the world! But from the konditori (the Swedish equivalent of a French patisserie, because Swedes take their bakelse quite seriously, like with fika) is best, so that you get the perfect alternating layers of sponge, crème patisserie, jam and fluffy whipped cream (the latter always at the top, usually in a dome), topped with a layer of green marzipan, something else the Swedes adore but I understand is not always so popular abroad.
A Napoleon bakelse is basically a whipped cream monster sandwiched between a type of Mille-feuille, with a berry glacé on the top layer. It’s yummy, but I recommend sharing — the cream can get a bit much, even for a Swede like me! 😀
Here’s a little biscuit-cream thing, called a choklad biskvi; a meringue-like bottom, like a coconut macaroon without the coconut, with a fluffy meringue chocolate interior, dipped in dark chocolate that makes a hard shell when cooled. It’s so sinful, and if I didn’t buy them one at at time, they’d be gone instantly!
Here is a classic staple to the fika. A vetelängd–this versions pretty fancy with cardamom and crème patisserie in the middle; some are simpler with only the traditional cardamom and pearl sugar, with almond paste inside. Others have as above, or even runny icing drizzled across. They’re cut up and served alongside coffee usually, as a perfect sweet treat that only lasts about two-three bites, unless you take a few more slices! 😛
These pictures aren’t essentials to fika, but are what I’ve had (or rather, a small sampling of the fika I’ve had this summer) for fika this year; two instances of berry cheesecake, and in the middle, a good old blueberry pie with vanilla sauce (the Swedish answer to custard, but is much runnier and quite often uses real vanilla pods, rather than essence) in the cup. Hears to many more fika-pauses to come!