Have you heard of FIKA? I hadn’t. Not until a few months ago that is, when I was catching up on my daily world news on BBC.com. I came across an article that read Why Are Swedish Workers So Happy?. This article was about FIKA, the Swedish workplace tradition of taking a coffee break with sweet treats and chatting. In many companies in Sweden this coffee break is not only encouraged but in some offices it is actually mandatory. Research has shown that taking a work-place coffee break leads to happier and more productive employees.
I know it’s silly of me, but when I read that people take a coffee break every day with a sweet pastry or two, all I could think of is, “Why aren’t Swedish people overweight?” Eating that much sweet treats every day must have some negative impact on the body. Right?
The quest for the answer to this question is how I came upon this cookbook Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann. I was curious as to what types of sweet treats the Swedes make on a regular basis. I browsed Amazon for cookbooks on FIKA treats and narrowed my selection down to three cookbooks. The Swedish Christmas Table by Linder and Westman, Fika The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones & Johanna Kindvall, and Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann. I bought all three cookbooks.
However the cookbook that I found to be the most useful and easy to cook from is Scandinavian Baking. This is one of the best cookbooks I have bought in a very long time.
It’s the perfect cookbook for bakers like me who can’t bake desserts no matter how hard we try. Baking is a science I find, you really can’t mess around with the proportions. If the directions say 1/4 of a tsp of cream of tartar, that’s what it must be, or the dessert won’t turn out perfect. My kind of dessert-making needs to be forgiving, and those are the types of recipes you find in this book 😊.
But first let me get to the answer to my original question: “If the Swedes eat dessert every day, why aren’t they overweight?” The answer it seems is in the culture of home baking and not using sugar in abundance in all and any foods that they eat. This is contrary to what we do here in America with sugar additives in everything we consume. As it turns out if the small amount of sugar you have is in the sweet treats that you eat at FIKA then it’s not so bad for you. Not only that, when you are at this coffee break, if you are so busy chatting, you end up not even finishing that pastry. We know this to be true – have you been to a party where you pile your plate high with food but end up eating off that plate all night long, and not even finishing it because you are so busy chatting all evening with friends? Let’s also not forget that Sweden is a big bicycle country, people bike all over town, from work to home to getting groceries. This combination of daily exercise and healthy wholesome eating is what keeps them in shape despite their daily FIKA coffee break.
What I like most about this cookbook is that the ingredients used in these desserts are all natural, simple and wholesome; like good old fashioned butter, flour, baking soda, eggs, sugar, spices, fruits and nuts.
The recipes are easy to follow and having made a few of the sweet treats myself from this cookbook, I can attest to the fact that the recipes are forgiving as well.
The photography in this book is amazing. The pictures are just mouthwateringly gorgeous. Just looking at the photos makes you want to make every single one of the pastries, cakes and sandwiches in this cookbook.
The recipes are forgiving enough even for novice bakers like fourteen year-old Anjali who made this Honey Cake with Orange Buttercream for her birthday and though it looked a little messy, it tasted delicious. Her friends absolutely loved it and asked her for the recipe 😋. It had all natural simple ingredients – butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla, orange, and spices.
The table of contents in this cookbook is categorized into logical sections that make it easy to choose a dessert, pastry, or bread recipe depending on what one fancies at any given time.
If you are looking for a great dessert cookbook with easy to follow directions, simple ingredients and nothing complicated, with amazing mouth-watering photography, this dessert cookbook is for you. You can purchase a copy of Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann on Amazon Scandinavian Baking