Sunday, January 1, 2012

swedish fika

On Saturday my sister, Maddie, and I invaded our mom's kitchen and hosted a Swedish fika for a few of our family and friends. Maddie, who has been living in Stockholm for the past 1.5 years, and I decided hosting a fika would be the perfect opportunity to share a few stories of her adventures of life in Sweden, a few photos from my vacation there in November, and a bit of Swedish culture with our family and friends.
fika:: a social institution in Sweden; it means having a break, most often a coffee break, with one's colleagues, friends, date or family. The word "fika" can serve as both a verb and a noun.
While promising each other we wouldn't turn this fika into a big deal, we both knew it would be something bigger than we imagined. And it certainly became a big deal when I submitted a proposal to Foodbuzz detailing why they should select an event like this for their monthly 24x24 campaign.
Swedes consider having a coffee an important part of the culture. You can fika at work by taking a "coffee break," fika with someone like a "coffee date" or just drink a cup of coffee. ... This practice of taking a break, typically with a cinnamon roll or some biscuits or cookies, or fruit on the side is central to Swedish life...
A few phone calls where exchanged to plan the menu the previous week, my mother-in-law dusted off her collection of dala horses and other items of Swedish heritage, and I made a couple of trips down to Swedesburg, Iowa to pick up some last minute food items and decorative touches from the Swedish Heritage Society.
Traditionally, fika requires sweet, baked goods, especially cinnamon rolls. According to Helene Henderson, author of The Swedish Table, one needs three items to avoid insult to Swedish guests; "to impress, serve a variety of freshly baked items, and be ready to talk about the weather. {source}
Before we knew it, it was the night before our event. Nic and I pulled into Minnesota around Midnight on Friday, and I got right to work preparing my rolls before the chaos of the morning ensued. Kneading, rolling and shaping dough at 2:00 in the morning is really quite meditative.

Saturday morning came and we were up early prepping for our guests. The cinnamon rolls were baked, coffee brewed and we were ready to fika.

Maddie gets all of the credit for the layout of our fika, and thanks to my mother-in-law's collection of Swedish items, the house had hints of Sweden wherever you looked.


We selected a few recipes from Swedish Cakes and Cookies, a beautiful cookbook that has become a modern classic since it was first published in 1945. Maddie gave me a copy for Christmas and let me know that many kitchens in Sweden have a copy of it.

Maddie made beautiful Kanellbullar, or cinnamon buns

I made Lussebullar, or saffron buns - a Swedish Christmas roll

I also made Choklabullar, or chocolate balls. I had one of these at a bakery in Stockholm and knew I had to share it at our fika.

We rounded out the buffet with a platter of berries, clementines and strawberries

We also had a package of Leksands Crispbread that we broke apart and served with a jar of lingon berries.


And of course we had coffee, which my brother worked on all morning trying to come up with a perfect pot.


As we took one final look at our spread, Maddie and I decided we should do this for a living. The above photo will be the cover of our upcoming How to Host a Swedish Fika guidebook. We charge by the hour, but are oh so worth it.

Everything looked almost too pretty to eat...





But it also looked too pretty not to eat, and soon enough, people began to dig in.





Our late nights and early mornings of baking paid off. It seemed people were enjoying our Swedish eats!


As people enjoyed their baked goods and coffee, I shared stories of my vacation in Sweden.


And Maddie was able to take a break from working on her thesis, relax a bit, and tell people of her adventures in Stockholm.


We were even able to make a plate for ourselves and slip back into a life across the Atlantic.


People were having a good time...


...enjoying the food...


...and catching up with old friends.


As good as the food was, the details that were set throughout the house, were just as important.







Everyone left with a taste of Sweden and a few of my photographs that I had matted and set out on the table for everyone to take.


Until I am able to go back to Sweden, I am certain more fikas will enter my daily grind. And as I embrace a New Year, I will remember to sit back, relax, grab a cuppa joe, cinnamon roll, a friend, and just enjoy a fika.

A very big and grateful thanks to my beautiful friend Leah, owner of Leah Maria Photography, who took most of the photos included in the post, and many many more.


  1. All that food looks delicious!

    And I love the little bowl of swedish fish! ;)

  2. It was such a great time! You're always such a wonderful host Kier!

  3. Tak! This was beautiful and brought back wonderful memories of Sweden. I am a fellow Swede! The Bollar ( we would say "bulla") buns were the biggest memory for me! They were gorgeous and I remember eating them one after another with butter :-)
    You were just missing the fish paste in a tube and liquid yogurt! XOXOXOX

  4. Your sisters comment on brought me here. I got all watery eyes when i saw this nice Fikastund (Fika hour/event). I'm swede that loves coffe and all things regarding it. I would love to start hosting this kind of Fikastund, but I will never turn down a regular fika-request or visiting guest either. Spontaneous fika with loved ones is one of the best parts of my life.

    1. Thanks for visiting Frederick in response to my comment on the Food 52 post.

      "Spontaneous fika with loved ones is one of the best parts of my life." - this is a statement that I totally agree with. Another favorite of mine, is sitting around my mom's table on Sunday mornings in Minnesota, enjoying mugs of coffee, the Sunday paper and breakfast.

      Heading back to Sweden in July - looking forward to fikas everyday! :)