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Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats

by Anna Brones

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1294201,983 (4.55)None
"An illustrated lifestyle cookbook on the Swedish tradition of fika--a twice-daily coffee break--including recipes for traditional baked goods, information and anecdotes about Swedish coffee culture, and the roots and modern incarnations of this cherished custom. Sweden is one of the world's top coffee consuming nations, and the social coffee break known as fika is a cultural institution. A time to take a rest from work and chat with friends or colleagues over a cup and a sweet treat, fika is part of the national identity and a marker of the Swedish ideal of taking time to appreciate life's small joys. Fika can be had alone or in groups, indoors or outdoors, while traveling or while at home, and Fika is full of inspiration to elevate these daily coffee breaks. In this adorable and illustrated cookbook, Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall share more than 45 classic recipes from their motherland--from cinnamon buns and ginger snaps to rhubarb cordial and rye bread--while also examining what fika means to Swedes and how we can all integrate its values into our daily lives."--… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Fika: the Art of the Swedish Coffee Break with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats is an irresistible cookbook for this Swedish-American with a life-long love of coffee. Even many of us attenuated Scandinavians born in America maintain that love of coffee and all the ritual of a coffee break, making this just the perfect book for me.

Fika is a Swedish neologism that reverses the syllables for kaffe, the Swedish word for coffee to indicate a coffee break. The immigrants who came to Minnesota left Sweden before the word was coined, but long after the tradition of taking a coffee break, a real coffee break, began. Having coffee is social, not like running to Starbucks and walking out with a paper cup to drink at your desk. It was sitting together, drinking coffee, eating coffeecake, rusks, or cookies. In my family, mom would make a pot of coffee, and put out a plate with snacks, some rye crisps, knäckebröd perhaps, molasses cake or oatmeal cookies, maybe a pie. Everyone had coffee together, even the kids. I do not remember when I first began to drink coffee. It was well before kindergarten, though it was probably two-thirds milk to one-third coffee. So this book reminds me of childhood, of the social communion that coffee represents.

Reading Fika, I was reminded of Halldor Laxness’ Independent People, the book that probably garnered him the 1855 Nobel Prize for Literature. Coffee is ever present, mentioned more than a hundred times at least. There are several times when Laxness gets to the heart of coffee’s special place in Scandinavian culture, during a wedding, a funeral, and this amazing scene when a young boy is waking up, listening to the coffee being made.

“But his grandmother’s ritual grumbling was never so protracted that it did not carry with it the promise of coffee. Never was the smoke so thick or so blue, never did it penetrate the eyes, the nose, the throat, the lungs so deeply that it could be forgotten as the precursor of that fragrance which fills the soul with optimism and faith, the fragrance of the crushed beans beneath the jet of boiling water curving from the kettle, the smell of coffee…This was morning’s hallowed moment. In such a fragrance the perversity of the world is forgotten and the soul is inspired with faith in the future; when all was said and done, it was probably true that there really were far-off places, even foreign countries.”



This book brings me back to my childhood, to my family, and recalls so many rich and treasured memories that I can’t be trusted. I love it unreservedly. It also reminds me of the many cooking utensils my mom had, like her notched rolling pin, kruskavel, that was so perfect for rolling crackers and some cookies. I love it, but it is not without flaws

The recipes are familiar, rich in the spices that make Swedish baking so distinct, with lots of nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. There are many of the delicate cookies and crisps, the ones that make a hundred cookies out of the same amount of flour, butter and eggs that might make a couple dozen American cookies. However, some of the most familiar recipes of my childhood are missing. There are no recipes for krumkake, rosettes, or fattigmand. I imagine this is because three of them require special baking equipment though there is a recipe for the mandelmussor that require special tins.

This is a book of recipes for things to eat with coffee, not for making coffee, but I was also surprised to see no mention of Swedish Egg Coffee. Egg coffee is so smooth and delicious that it would be great to introduce it to American coffee lovers. Nonetheless, the book is full of delicious recipes from crackers to cakes to cookies, from the more everyday to the holiday-oriented special items. It is illustrated with drawings rather than photos which makes it feel very quaint and homey, which is exactly what fika should do.

http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/fika-by-anna-brones-johann... ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Jan 16, 2017 |
During a lunch break while researching at the Stockholm City Archives, I read a book review in the magazine Swedish American Genealogist (2015:3). The title was Have Some Coffee! and I'm always game for that. The book: Fika (pronounced Fee-ka): The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall.

And surprisingly enough, I found the book on a Swedish online bookstore. And, naturally, bought it.

What an absolutely delightful and charming book! From layout to illustrations, from recipes to prose. The authors mention two absolute staples for recipes: Sju Sorters Kakor (Seven Kinds of Cookies) and Vår Kokbok (Our Cookbook), both of which 9 out of 10 Swedish households are sure to have and if you're my age, you have the earlier editions….

The authors have chosen wisely. Any home baker can tell you that they have baked these recipes for years, over and over again. I know I have. The recipes are clear and true to the originals. All of this is baking from scratch- don't even think that word “mix”.

Each chapter begins with a description of Fika in all its forms- from the kind of cup you drink out of to when, where and why there should be a Fika.

My fika today was Kärleksmums (chocolate coffee squares). The recipe is on page 62 and has the same basic ingredients as in the Agneta Lampe book “att lyckas med gott hembakat” where it is known as Mias mockabitar. It's a favorite among chocoholics. ( )
  HugoReads | May 14, 2016 |
Love the picture illustrations and the loads of information in this gem. I plan to work my way through this book, dependant upon the availability of the book through the library!
Baked: fikonrutor: fig squares p. 38-9 ( )
  untitled841 | Feb 1, 2016 |
Oh fika, you are such a wonderful little book. I was really excited to read this (I'm always excited in general about reading new books but I have a certain un-healthy love for this little Swedish shop called IKEA). This book is made up of 1/3 history, 1/3 cultural and 1/3 recipe book that encompasses the Swedish Coffee Break or 'fika'. On top of my love for IKEA which has nothing to do with this book, the American Swedish Historical Museum which is the oldest Swedish museum in America is located at my hometown of Philadelphia.

fika, the art of swedish coffee break, book review

Fika is filled with wonderful illustrations and recipes, but beyond that the first two chapters are really a crash course on the history of coffee/fika in Sweden.

"To have real fika means using the classic recipes that everyone knows (what the swedes call klassiker), either those from one of the swedish cooking bibles... or those passed down from generations to the next." (pg 2)

Furthermore, the authors discuss why fika is so special in the Swedish culture. "Do you want to hang out and have coffee?" is not the same as asking someone "ska vi fika?" or "Should we fika?" Fika is not just about drinking coffee and eating delicious homemade pastries, it's about appreciating tradition and culture that's been passed down for generations.

One of my favorite sections is titled Stocking the Fika Pantry for most, if not all of the recipes in the book there's only 8 basic ingredients that you need to have in your pantry: flour. sugar, butter, eggs, spices (the basics are cardamom and cinnamon), nuts, dried fruits and chocolate. That's all. Eight basic ingredients that I certainly have in my pantry to start baking delicious, homemade Swedish treats.

Since I've been travelling and haven't had the chance to actually try one of these recipes I will share you with you some of my "must try" recipes- syltgrottor (Jam thumbprint cookie), hasselnotskaka med kaffee (Hazelnut coffee cake), kokostoppar (coconut peaks or coconut macaroon), chockladbollar (chocolate balls) and pannkakor (swedish pancakes).

Well what are you waiting for? ska vi fika? As always, thanks for reading! ( )
  jnat88 | Aug 16, 2015 |
Showing 4 of 4
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"An illustrated lifestyle cookbook on the Swedish tradition of fika--a twice-daily coffee break--including recipes for traditional baked goods, information and anecdotes about Swedish coffee culture, and the roots and modern incarnations of this cherished custom. Sweden is one of the world's top coffee consuming nations, and the social coffee break known as fika is a cultural institution. A time to take a rest from work and chat with friends or colleagues over a cup and a sweet treat, fika is part of the national identity and a marker of the Swedish ideal of taking time to appreciate life's small joys. Fika can be had alone or in groups, indoors or outdoors, while traveling or while at home, and Fika is full of inspiration to elevate these daily coffee breaks. In this adorable and illustrated cookbook, Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall share more than 45 classic recipes from their motherland--from cinnamon buns and ginger snaps to rhubarb cordial and rye bread--while also examining what fika means to Swedes and how we can all integrate its values into our daily lives."--

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