Some days I find myself stumped on what to share here. I love sharing stories and photos of what I’ve been up to. But I’ve got to come up with all of that good stuff first! Some days I don’t feel like I have good stories to tell and nothing seems to be coming together. Like this post – I’ve been waiting to share it for at least a couple of weeks while I try to come up with some story to share with you. But this recipe is too good to keep to myself, so here it is.
I don’t know much about fika, but browsing through the January issue of Saveur, a photo of a sweet bread stopped me in my tracks. Reading more, it appears that fika is the Swedish concept of an afternoon coffee break, with snacks. I’m in! As a regular Instagrammer, I’ve seen people posting about their afternoon fika, so the concept is not foreign. But I’m no expert on all of the real details. So imagine my delight to find not only a recipe, but the mention of an upcoming book devoted to fika recipes. I may have even pre-ordered it!
Without even really planning it, I’ve spent most of the winter so far with my own little interpretation of fika. As the early grey gathers on weekend afternoons, we’ll gather in the kitchen with candles and snacks arranged on the table. We spend some time chatting, browsing magazines or better still, drawing. And since finding this recipe, a few of our weekend gatherings have been accompanied by the sweet warm waftings of cinnamon and cardamom. I hope it will inspire some gatherings of your own.
Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread
This recipe appeared in the January 2015 issue of Saveur and is ever so slightly adapted here.
Serves 8 to 10
FOR THE DOUGH
7 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups whole milk, heated to 115°
2 tsp. active dry yeast
4½ cups flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp. cardamom seeds, lightly crushed
½ tsp. kosher salt
FOR THE FILLING AND TOPPING:
½ cup granulated sugar
7 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1½ tsp. cardamom seeds, finely crushed
1 egg, beaten
Pearl sugar, for sprinkling
Make the dough: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool just slightly. Stir in milk and yeast; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, cardamom and salt in a bowl. Stir in yeast mixture until dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Return dough to bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rest in a warm place until dough is doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Make the filling: Mix granulated sugar, butter, cinnamon and cardamom in a bowl until smooth.
Assemble the bread: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 11″ x 17″ rectangle, about ¼″ thick. Spread filling over dough, leaving a ½″ border along edges. Working from one long end, roll dough into a tight cylinder. Transfer seam side down to a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with dish towel; let sit in a warm place until dough has doubled in size again, about 45 minutes.
Bake the bread: Heat oven to 375°. Starting 1″ from one end of the dough, make crosswise slices with a serrated knife, spaced 1″ apart, three-quarters of the way through dough. Gently fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right. Brush dough with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar; bake until golden brown, about 22 minutes. Let bread cool completely before serving, if you can hold yourself back that long! Best enjoyed the day it is baked, it will reheat perfectly for breakfast the next morning.