Keep hearing about fika, but not sure what it means? This post will clear it up for you, plus traditional fika recipes that let you arrange Swedish fika without flying to Sweden!
What is Swedish fika?
The usual English translation is ‘coffee break,’ but the meaning of fika is more than that.
It’s an integral part of Swedish culture where you take the time to socialize with friends and coworkers.
Fika means taking a break from working and sitting down to chat — all these over a cup of coffee or tea and some Swedish sweets or pastries.
So, you see, the meaning of fika goes beyond a regular coffee break, which can be done alone, on your desk.
It’s all about building a relationship.
Now you can try having one in your part of the world, and you can choose which among these fika treats to prepare!
It’s from a 19th-century slang for coffee — kaffi.
The word is then inverted and turned into ‘fika.’
Kaffe (coffee) mostly, although tea is also quite common and some Swedish sweets.
It depends on where you are.
At work, fika is typically arranged for thirty minutes. We always get an invite in our calendar, so everyone shows up in the kitchen at 15:00 (3 pm).
So, if we are on a call or meeting, we try to wrap it up before then. 😉
If it’s for leisure, and you’re with friends and families, then it’s all up to you on what time to end your fika.
We use it both as a noun and a verb.
For a noun, an example would be: ‘We need to arrange a fika before everyone goes on summer holiday.’
For verb, we say ‘Let’s fika!’.
CHECK OUT THE REST OF MY SWEDISH CUISINE SERIES!
Hands-down, Swedish cinnamon buns — they’re always the first choice for fika.
These cinnamon and cardamom-flavored sweet rolls are excellent with almost any type of beverage — and the aroma alone would invite you to sit down, enjoy a kanelbulle, and chat.
You can tell Christmas is just around the corner when these saffron buns become available in bakeries, coffee shops, and supermarkets.
Sometimes referred to as Sta. Lucia buns because it’s traditionally eaten on Sta. Lucia day, these treats are subtly flavored with saffron — not overpowering, but just enough to tease your tastebuds.
Oh! Not just for fika, lussekatter are also excellent with red wine!
While also typically considered a popular choice for Swedish dessert, these chocolate balls have sugar, cocoa powder, and oats.
They’re ‘no-cook,’ so even kids enjoy preparing them — and they’re semi-healthy because of the oats! 😉
Another Swedish tradition, this time it’s for Easter.
But nowadays, I noticed that I see them as early as the first week of March — regardless of whether Easter falls in April or not.
No complaints from me, though; even better if they’re available the whole year-round.
I will never have enough of these cardamom-flavored buns, with the almond paste filling and topped with whipped cream. Just heavenly.
Try them for your next fika, and I am sure you will agree with me!
The trick in making this almond tart at home is not to go overboard with all the sweet elements: the pastry dough, the filling, then the syrup on the caramelized almonds.
But I tell you, the effort is soooo worth it.
I try not to make these at home too often because I cannot stop reaching for one when I see them. Delicious.
If you want a no-fuss, easy-to-prepare cake for fika, this cardamom cake is the best one to make.
Moist, buttery, simply delicious — and you don’t even need the additional powdered sugar on top.
A very light cake that’s also excellent for breakfast the next day (if there’s any left!).
These tartlets are excellent summer pastries; elderflower on the custard for filling and fresh strawberries on top.
If you are not a fan of elderflower, just use a bit less.
Trust me; it gives the custard a lighter feeling, so all you get is a perfect balance of creamy, sweet, and freshness from the strawberries.
They even go well with a glass of rosé! (I know, that’s not ideal for fika, but I just want to throw it out there. 😀 )
These are not typically found in coffee shops or bakeries; I have no idea why that is when it showcases all the well-loved ingredients of Sweden — almonds, and cardamom.
These mini cakes are made from almond paste, which is quite different from the other almond cake typical in Sweden.
The best part? They travel well (once completely cooled), so you can take them with you on picnics or just surprise your colleagues at work for tomorrow’s fika!
This one is such a classic it’s been called by various names.
Regardless of how they call it, it’s quite hard to miss in bakeries —chocolate cake topped with (more) chocolate icing and dried coconut flakes.
Some recipes add coffee in the icing; some just use cocoa powder.
The result is always a mix of bitter and sweet in every fika bite. YUM!
While this is not a traditional combo, it does work wonderfully.
Ground hazelnuts, with some bits, left for crunch, and add ground cardamom in there — and you won’t be able to stop reaching for that second piece (at least).
You can even dunk it in your coffee for that Italian touch. 😉
Traditionally, you only see these cookies with saffron, but nowadays, you see various nuts added to them as well — pistachio happens to be my favorite among those variations.
Same with lussekatter, these saffron cookies start popping out everywhere during the holidays.
These pistachio cookies are not just great with your usual fika beverage; they are excellent with glögg (Swedish mulled wine) as well.
Another fika treat that’s also common for dessert.
They come in various sizes, so feel free to form them as you like.
Some just sprinkle them with powdered sugar, some with cocoa powder — both are perfect for mid-afternoon coffee break, in my opinion.
They’re just the right amount of sugar that you need to perk up!
So how about it? Try some (or all) of these classic fika recipes, and let me know which one is your favorite!