15 Best Cafes in Stockholm

Like most of Europe, Swedes take coffee time seriously. And like the Americans, Swedes enjoy sit down coffees and espressos in what is known as a fika. A fika is a noun, verb, adjective to describe having a coffe (or tea) with someone.

Stockholm is full of cafes. Some are amazing and some are downright touristy and icky. I broke down a list of favorite cafes across the city by district. Some of the cafes are great to chat for hours, whiles others are great to work in, and some are worth the experience, even if short.

You will notice there are only 12 cafes on the list. I want you dear readers, to tell me your favorite spot and why and the best ones will be added into the list.

View Most Popular Cafes in a larger map

Kungsholmen:
Bageriet Bulleboden
Parmmätargatan 7, 11224 Stockholm
Uteservering – yes; wifi – no

I visited this cafe for the first time last month after my husband raved about it as a great cafe for good coffee and massive kanelbullar.

There were no kanelbullar that day, but I enjoyed a delicious, buttery kardamummabulle instead. Their grilled sandwiches are pricy (around 100:-) but are fresh and tasty. The salads are also excellent.

The cafe is usually not packed and therefore easy to sit down and enjoy a long fika and take in the view of the church and garden across the street.

Cafe Fix
Sankt Eriksgatan 35, 11239 Stockholm
Uteservering – yes; free wifi – no
Even if it is packed inside, I have always managed to get a seat. There is plenty of good food and cookies to choose from. The long tea list is a plus for tea lovers; like myself. The brunch plate might look small but fills you up if you are not starving.

Cafe Fix is a great place to fika and if you are visiting Stockholm, a nice place to see a crowd and possible chat with a stranger. ~ written by Sabina

Petite France
Adress: John Ericssongatan 6, 11222 Stockholm
Uteservering – yes; free wifi – yes
A typical French cafe with on occasion, typical French service. Notwithstanding their service, the location is in a quiet Kungsholmen neighborhood near the water (not on the waterside street though). The kanelbullar are famous as are their pain au chocolats.

Sometimes their coffee is a total miss and can run bitter and flat. If that happens, ask for another.

The coffee shop is best enjoyed in the summertime when you can sit outside.

 
Vasastan/Norrmalm:

Mellqvist Café & Bar
Rörstrandsgatan 4, Stockholm
Uteservering – yes; free wifi – no
This was one of the cafes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo filmed in; the other Kaffe in Södermalm (mentioned below).

Italian styled, you will enjoy the excellent coffees and good service at Mellqvist.

 
Östermalm:
Sturekatten
Riddargatan 4, 11435 Stockholm
A very old, funky cafe located in an old building in Östermalm, Sturekatten is one of the hallmark cafes in Stockholm. Sturekatten formed after the owners of Vetekatten went their separate ways.

It is very crowded during tea time and tourist season so try to get there a little earlier/later than others. They have the best semlor in the city and quirky, old chaises to enjoy them in.

Great for a fika but don’t expect to stay hours there and be in peace.

Cafe Foam
Karlavägen 75, 114 49 Stockholm

A bit of a bougie cafe in Östermalm-Karlaplan, Foam has excellent lunches and set brunches (real American pancakes).

The pink and black theme is bold but still Swedish. Packed during lunch hour, get early or at the end to catch their lunch specials. Otherwise go for a fika and stay for hours.

 
City:
Vetekatten

Vetekatten along with Sturekatten are the two most famous cafes in all of Stockholm. The best time is to get there in the early afternoon just when afternoon tea begins and feast yourself on freshly baked scones, sandwiches and homemade jams.

Otherwise, go there for a fika and eat a semla or bulle which come in a variety of unusual flavors.

Whatever you do, Swede, tourist, or vagabond, Vetekatten is a must visit place in Stockholm.

Citykyrkan på Adolf Fredriks Kyrkogata
Adolf Fredriks kyrkogata 10, Stockholm
This is one cafe I have not visited but hear it’s quirky and fun because it it is in a church. You can read a review here.
 
Gamla Stan:
Chokladkoppen (Plus sister cafe, Kaffekoppen located next door)
Stortorget 18, 111 29 Stockholm
Uteservering – yes, wifi – no

It’s a bit of a tourist trap in the high season but being located in Stortorget, where both the Nobel Museum and Kungliga Slottet are a stone’s throw away, there’s nothing short of culture at this spot.

Enjoy people watching as you feast on a giant kanelbulle and drink a cappuccino. You won’t be able to have a full fika but for history and culture lovers, this is your spot.

 
Södermalm:
Drop Coffee
Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 10, 118 50 Stockholm
Uteservering – yes; wifi – yes

This is one of the few cafes you can sit all day and never be bothered by anyone. Yes, the cafe is a bit cramped but if you an Apple fanboy, you won’t be lonely (IBMs are welcome too though).

Their coffees are known as the best in the city and the dagens soppa {soup of the day} is always vegetarian.

The place isn’t a cosy spot but they have free wifi and outlets everywhere making it the best place to work and work some more.

Cafe Fåtöljen
Götgatan 12, 118 46 Stockholm; Hornsgatan 55
Uteservering – yes; wifi – no
Homemade pies are to die for. Need I say more.

Kaffe
Sankt Paulsgatan 17, 11846 Stockholm
This is a tiny cafe and made for standing espressos and conversations. All seats are bar style and face the windows so you can watch the people go by and spend a little longer time. Their sandwiches and coffee are well priced too.

And did I mention Daniel Craig sat inside Kaffe as they filmed? That’s a good enough reason to visit!

What’s your favorite cafe in Stockholm?

Lakritsfestivalen {Licorice Food Festival} – From Panne Cotta to Massage Oil

I never expected I could be a licorice lover. Growing up, I loved one and one type of licorice candy: Jelly Belly licorice.

My mom love licorice, like real licorice candy in the US. The Swedish variety was too salty for her tastes but she still enjoyed them. And she’s the only person I know in the US that actually ate real licorice candy, not the “red licorice” or alternative fake licorices.

The Licorice Balloon Lady

On Sunday when I went to the Lakritsfestivalen {Licorice Food Festival}, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was on a mission to figure out why Swedes love licorice, but I did not expect to fall in love with licorice too.

Boy oh boy! Licorice is delicious.

Soft, chewy.

Sweet, salty (not too salty though!)…

And flavored with citrus or berries, yum!

I had so many interesting flavors and types of licorice at the festival.

Powdered licorice
It’s the new culinary ‘in’ thing. Martin Jörgensen, founder of Lakritsfabriken, says to “Use it as a spice and add a dash of it to your sweet and savory dishes.”

What licorice powder looks like

He made this delicious panne cotta with licorice
Licorice Panne cotta with a dollop of raspberries

And he also made raspberry smoothie. That was amazing! Raspberries and licorice are like best friends.

Others used the powdered licorice to season salads (no tasting available) and in cotton candy. That was nuts.

Candies, fudges, jams and everything else in between
At the show, there were the traditional candy powerhouses Malaco and Panda but the most exciting was meeting all the small boutique companies.

My stash of licorice infused goodies

The orange confiture with licorice from Liquorice Reglisse, an Italien company, will be exciting to try! I had no idea Italy is one of the largest produces of licorice from the southern region called Kalabria.

A favorite was the Australian soft and slightly sweet candy from Kookaburra

Cupcakes
Licorice flavored cupcakes
Lots of interesting and somewhat odd flavors:
Michelle Obama – chocolate, almond, raspberry, licorice
Black Violet – licorice, violet, salt licorice
Old school – licorice, anise, fennel, pistachio nut
Finnish citrus – licorice, lemon, salt licorice
H&D – chocolate, star anise, salt licorice
Pingvinen {Penguin} – licorice, mint, salt licorice sauce

Super über salty licorice from Iceland
Icelandic Lakkrisdjöflar

Mini cupcakes from Damen med Bakelsen
Mini mini Truffles

Chocolate
Dark Milk Chocolate + Licorice

Frejyu Lakkris Draumur – Supposedly the first licorice+chocolate created
Frejyu Lakkris Draumur

Macaroons
Licorice Macaroon

Bath & Body infused licorice
Can you imagine candy-infested smelling store Bath and Body Works selling a licorice soap, shampoo, and massage oil?

Queen of Licorice did just that. They make organic soaps, massage oils, lip balms, shampoo and conditioners. Licorice is a medicinal plant and it’s ability to cure dry coughs, excema, dandruff, makes it magical plant used in ayruvedic medicine for thousands of years.

The Queen of Licorice products are meant to help people with dry and flakey as well as improve their mood (licorice releases adrenline in the body). I picked up a massage oil in the hopes of curing my excema on my arm. Let the experimenting begin!

Licorice Books
The books are not made of licorice; they’re books about licorice. I know, disappointed.

Annica Triberg and Annika Wallin wrote the definite guide to licorice called Lakrits. It’s a historical, cultural, and cookbook all rolled into one. So far it’s only in Swedish but available at the major bookstores. I already love the book and have learned so much about this little root.

Annica Triberg and Annika Wallin

Did you know that people used to brush their teeth by using a piece of licorice root and rubbing it on the teeth? True story.

Lakrits, Mynt, & Choklad is a cookbook by bestselling author Elisabeth Johansson. I flipped through the book and everything looks amazing. Still need to get my hands on one, I’m excited to try my own licorice panne cotta.

Elisabeth Johansson

All in all, it was a great time and I’m hoping to try out some licorice based recipes now!

The Swedish Obsession with Licorice {Candy Series Part III}

Today I attended Lakritsfestivalen, a new annual show dedicated to the plant, licorice. Yes, licorice is on the verge of the next culinary explosion and it’s fitting that the country to lead the licorice extravaganza is Sweden.

This is part III on my Swedish Candy Series. Be sure to check out parts I and II.
Plockgodis – Be an Expert at Picking from the Candy Bins
An Introduction to Swedish Candy

What godis (candy) do you love?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Swedes love licorice, as they love candy. There is no group of people more obsessed by this root, say for the Finns, than the Swedes. Sweet, salty, neutral are ingrained in Swedish candy culture.

Americans on the other hand, find licorice to be downright bizarre. Even though the US produced two of the oldest licorice candies, Good & Plenty and Crows, you will see few Americans indulging in a licorice root.

And so I went on a quest for understanding why Swedes love licorice and where that love stems from.

A table full of candy from Beriksson’s Import at Lakritsfestivalen

The answers, from various licorice confectioners, writers, and a herbalist was surprising.

Annica Tryberg, coauthor of the book Lakrits, said, “Licorice falls into the Swedish palette: salty and sweet. Many Swedish dishes like gravad lax and types of sill are salty. Salty licorice brings out comforting, homely flavors that we love.”

Pelle Petterson who works with importing Icelandic licorice said, “Icelanders love strong, salty licorice, it matches our taste for food very well. They were also the first to commercially produce chocolate with licorice, Freyja’s Draumur, which could be loved by everyone.”

Many people said licorice candy is popular because of the love for salty foods. Sweden, and the rest of the Nordic region, had to rely on salted meats and fish to last through the long winters. That love of salt did not dissipate when licorice was introduced at the apoteket as a medicinal product in the 1800s.

I think that since licorice gives an adrenaline boast, it can improve people’s spirits during the long winters and combat SAD (seasonal affected disorder).

In the 1800s the apotek {pharmacy} sold licorice roots as a medicinal product. Lisan Sundgren, a herbalist and cofounder of Queen of Licorice, a natural beauty company using licorice, said, “To aid with digestion, psoriasis, dandruff, the dry cough, all common ailments in in Sweden, licorice was and still is a natural remedy. It’s cheap and safe for the body.”

Sweet licorice in the form of licorice paste could also be found at the apotek to satisfy a sweet craving. Liquorice’s sweet tasting component is the glycyrrhizin acid, a compound 30-50 times stronger than sucrose (natural sugar).

In the 1930s Malmö Lakrits Compani (later Malaco) formed and began selling Sweden’s first licorice candy.

While several licorice candies were on the market by that point, Swedish licorice differed in flavor from its Anglo counterparts. Swedish lakrits was stronger and salter. Part of it was the licorice paste (the extract) and part was the usage ammonium chloride to give licorice a strong, pungent flavor known as salmiak.

Today, licorice is enjoying rock star status as the next big thing in the culinary world. While children may still eat Panda lakrits and licorice ropes, adults are experimenting with licorice powder, paste, and syrups.

Cupcake STHLM licorice cupcakes

Still, the best answer to why Swedes are in love with licorice could be answer by Martin at Cupcake STHLM.

“Swedes and licorice have similar personalities: it takes time to become friends and break down a Swede’s barrier. In the same way, it takes time to learn and love the taste of licorice.”

I agree. Even though I may not allow the lakrits plockgodis to fraternize with the chocolate pieces, I feel in love with licorice today. It took me thirty years.

Do you love licorice?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Pea Soup & Pancake Thursday – Being Truly Swedish

When I first heard about pea soup Thursday {ärtsoppa på tordagan}, I reenacted the scene from The Exorcist where Linda Blair throws up pea soup and does the infamous 360 degree head turn.

Pea soup gave me nightmares for years.

soup + dessert = epic swedish win?
Pea soup and pancakes

And it still does, but a couple weeks ago AB and I ventured to Blooms Café at Mariatorget and took the plunge for the traditional pea soup with pancakes lunch; a cornerstone of Swedish cuisine. The girl at the register was convincing.

trying my soup…
Pea soup day!

AB is suspicious of the greenness
Tasting pea soup

The soup was delicious. Blooms used fresh green peas, instead of the typical yellow peas for the Swedish version, and blended it with some cream and spice. I think the soup could have had more cream but it was filling and perfect for a rainy day.

We then ate our pancakes, I finished all mine since I left a little soup in the bowl; maximizing real estate in my tummy is paramount when dessert is involved. They served traditional Swedish style pancakes, closely resembling French crêpes, with whipped cream and raspberry jam.

My husband, like any Swede who’s attended school, or even military training and prison, will know that on Thursdays pea soup is served as the meal of the dal. Even today at his office cafetaria, they serve peasoup with pancakes.

The tradition stems from needing a hearty meal before Friday fasting in the Catholic faith. Sweden was Catholic for a short couple hundred years following the Danish influence of dismantling the old Gods in favor of one God. In the 1500s Sweden dropped Catholism and became a Protestant, Luthern, country.

Plus the Swedish King was evidently poisoned through his pea soup. Forensic evidence done recently however has not been able confirm if he would have been able to die the residual arsenic found in the soup.

The tradition of pea soup before fasting remains ingrained in the culture today. From schools and prisons serving it, you can find the ready made yellow pea soup at the groceries in the funny sausage style tubes.

I have not had yellow pea soup but I have had dalh, Indian lentil soup, from yellow split peas. Delicious because of the garam masala, onions, and ginger. The Swedish version I hear is not as exciting.

Instead, I recommend the fresh green pea soup for your Thursday Swedish meal. It is like spring with a dash of cream. If you want the yellow pea soup, perhaps go Indian style and be sacrilegious.

Pannkaka

The best reward of finishing pea soup means enjoy pancakes with jam and grädde. Mumms!

Berns Asiatiska {Dinner & Brunch Review}

One of the oldest, posh, buildings in the city belong to Berns, a restaurant and nightclub. Located at the end of Strandvägen and overlooking the beautiful Berzelli park (whenever they finish construction there) at the base of Östermalm, Berns is one of those places everybody goes to for something.

A concert.

Dinner.

Julbord.

Summer party.

Afternoon tea.

Brunch.

I’ve always been enthralled by Berns’ interior architecture. Entirely in the rococo style, the restaurant does everything to celebrate this late Baroque period: large gilded frames, huge chandelirs from catherdral ceilings, scrolled woodwork, and romantic lighting.
love the decor!

Then, Berns does something entirely crazy and instead of offering a Franco-Swedish menu or similar, they went all Asian, East Asian. From dumplings to spring rolls to sashimi, Berns offers the best of East Asian dishes.

On my first visit to Berns I attended a concert. Besides the fabulous architecture, entertaining unisex bathrooms, and overpriced drinks, it was overall a great night.

The second visit was at the Berns Asiatiska brunch. It’s pricy, 350kr, but with a full buffet of the same food served at dinner, a much better deal and selection.

Berns Asiatiska Dinner Service
I also visited Berns for a birthday dinner, which is when things went terribly wrong. We had a night where Murphy’s law dominated our service and food experience.

Our waitress arrived thirty minutes after seating to take our order. She skipped our drink order for another twenty minutes. In the interim, she explained that Berns serves its food family style; meaning, your orders can be combined and placed on a large platter to share.

Normally, I would love to do a family style service but as I only know two people at the table and considering many servings were single piece only, our host informed the waitress that we rather have individual servings.

She warned us that the ‘food will come out when it comes out’ and we agreed. What happened next was a nightmare.

Several dishes were combined, especially the dumpling orders. Some people receive one, two or three of dishes with 45minutes of ordering, I for example, received nothing. At that point I asked the waitress where my food was, she had no idea and after another fifteen minutes, I received one of two dishes I ordered: a dumpling.

Yes, a dumpling. ONE dumpling for 35kr (I swear I paid 32kr from the restaurant tax drop, but their website confirms 35kr). And when you are hungry and tired of waiting two hours from the time of seating, you are not happy.

the lonely dumpling

My chicken satay arrived a few short minutes after and the sauce was delicious but the chicken was rubber.

My friend had the sashimi platter and said the sashimi quality was higher than average for Stockholm, but average compared to a good sushi restaurant on the US West Coast. As for price, acceptable but not amazing enough to go back repeatedly.

A few other folks at our table never received some of their orders, only to find out that it had been ‘combined’ and served to someone else. The waitress did not inform either party.

With the whole fiasco over, I went home fuming; eating a burger and ice cream to comprise a makeshift dinner.

The amount of of times I had poor service in Stockholm had reached its tipping point and I decided to write to Berns and explain the whole situation. {Nicely of course}

Two weeks later I received an apology from the manager. He asked some follow-up questions and a week later, explained that it went all wrong for them as well.

He apologized, owned up to the mess, and offered myself, the birthday girl, and two guests brunch at Berns. I accepted and we went again.

Berns Asiatiska Brunch Service
As a caveat, when I went to Berns for brunch, the maître-de met me and knew about the situation. However, service from her was impeccable and she was friendly and smiling. Good start!

Our waiter, who served drinks, was prompt at refilling our teapots/coffeepots when necessary. He was not responsible for any food service since the brunch was a full buffet.

As for the brunch itself, there was a full section of East Asian foods: cold salads, raw oysters with caviar or truffles, Thai green curry, dim sum, soft pork buns, cut of lamb, sashimi, and sushi. And a perfect brunch is incomplete without a dessert table.

dim sum, oysters, and goodies

Favorites were dim sum – though could have been warmer, sushi, fresh scallops – which tasted like fluffy clouds, and oysters – which I ate for the first time.

The dessert table was the highlight of the service. Dozens of mini mousses, brûlées, cookies, and cakes line the table. There was something for everyone. Delicate jasmine tea notes in a crème brûlée conclude the brunch service in a masterful way.

the dessert plate

Overall everyone was very happy, well fed, and feeling good. I take pride in a restaurant giving good service and this time Berns brought itself from the dead.

If only restaurants gave their best the first time around, dismal evenings would not be had. Nevertheless, they owned up to their mistakes, offered a meal to give a second chance, and improved their reputation.

That is real customer service.

Berns Asiatiska
Offerings: http://www.berns.se/berns-asiatiska
Overall: Brunch is absolutely a must for people loving Asian food. Afternoon tea is supposed to be excellent though have not personally tried it.
Photographs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blacksapphire/sets/72157629420741634/with/7064537489/
Location: Berzelii Park; look for a large building across from the theater.
Access: Closest to Kungstragården Tbana stop; 7 minute walk from Östermalm Tbana

Cupcake STHLM {Cupcakes You’ll Fall in Love With}

Exactly a month ago, on Leap Day, I spent the afternoon with Mikael, one of the cofounders of the cupcake bakery, Cupcake Sthlm (short for Stockholm).

They are a growing local business that I have loved ever since they opened in late 2010.

It was a glorious afternoon sampling mini cupcakes. Cupcake critics out there may call the cupcake selfish and overindulgent, but to me, it’s a piece of a little rainbow. The rainbow that unicorns puke, true story.

What I love about Cupcake STHLM’s treats are the mix between Swedish style and taste and American fluffiness. Mikael told me that on any day they try to incorporate three types of cupcakes: Swedish traditional, Swedish modern, and American. And go seasonal when possible.

Founders Mikael and Martin didn’t start in the cupcake business or even pastry school; they were chefs. They met in 2008 while operating a restaurant in Åre (the ski resort city) and wanted to brach out on their own with something new and exciting.

Then, Mikael’s girlfriend suggested, “Why not cupcakes? They’re cute, popular, and people love them.”

From then on, they experimented with different flavors and frosting. You know why their cream cheese frosting is delicious? Because it contains only cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon and cream. That frosting is to die for. They have a secret way to whip the frosting so it is solid enough to pipe (believe me, piping cream cheese is a royal pain), but creamy enough to melt in your mouth.

On any day, you can catch them selling seventeen flavors at their two little boutiques in Stockholm. A lot of them reminds you of Sprinkes, Magnolia or even Georgetown Cupcakes; the three powerhouses of the cupcake world.

What I love about these guys is that they are also about having fun. They have lots of little trivia and ‘free mini’ days if you partake in Facebook trivia or contests. And even if you are not on Facebook, a song and dance number will earn you a delicious bite.

{Today’s special is Stjärnan – red velvet cake/summer flavors/rhubarb. Comment on their FB status to recceive a free mini!}

Plus, you can book them for a variety of events including birthday parties, bridal showers (möhippa), tastings, and even a full evening rental of their S:t Eriksplan shop.

They also have cupcake classes where you learn to bake and decorate cupcakes. They have them in Swedish only right now but after the summer (when it’s cooler) are hoping to teach an English class. Even if your Swedish is basic, you should be fine if you know cupcake jargon. Perhaps one of these days, I’ll take a class.

Tourists and Stockholmers, go make yourself and someone else happy and pick up a few little darlings at their stores.
Website: http://www.cupcakesthlm.se/
Location: S:t Eriksgatan 83 & Götgatan 78 (in Skrapan). Stockholm, Sweden
Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10AM to 6PM
Sat-Sun: 11AM to 4PM
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cupcakestockholm?sk=info
Types: Regular cupcakes, seasonal, and vegan

Swedish Grocery Store Adventures

My friend, J, loves visiting the grocery store when she travels to foreign countries. There’s so much to see and learn about a culture at the grocery store.

We took a lot pictures a long time when we were visiting Sweden but I decided to spend more time in the store and take photos of all things Swedish.

By the way, Swedes have a strange fascination with food in a tube. And you thought American food was weird…

Felix Ketchup
felix - swedish ketchup

Sylt {jam} in a squeeze refill bag
lingon sylt - lingonberry jam in a tube

The “Ethnic” Section – all five meters long
The "Ethnic" Section

Mayonnaise in a tube – the first of the many foods in a tube
Mayonnaise in a tube

Knäckebröd – Swedish hard bread
Knäckebröd!

Catalanen med sylt (hallon)
Catalanen med sylt (hallon)

Delicato – Punschrulle – punch flavored marzipan sweets
Delicato - Punschrulle

Piggelin – Pear flavor ice cream bars
Piggelin Swedish Ice Cream

Chocolates
chocolates!

Swedish yogurt and fil
IMAG1096

Risifrutti -rice flavored pudding, very sweet!
risifrutti - flavored yogurt with rice

Cheese in a tube – another food in a tube
Cheese in a tube?

Frödinge Ostkaka {Cheesecake} – literally called a cheesecake, this has nothing to do with the American dessert, cheesecake. This is a true cake from cheese.
Frödinge Ostkaka - Cheesecake

Leverpastej {liverpate}
Leverpastej - liverpate

more leverpastej

Ostar {cheeses} – Herregård, Präst, Grève are the most common Swedish cheeses.
Swedish block cheese

Kräftstjärtar i lake {crayfish in brine} – tasty on a smörgås
kräftstjärtar i lake - crayfish in brine

Gravad lax {salmon} – cured and sliced thin

Räkor {shrimp} in a bin

Kallas Kaviar – the one and only caviar in a tube!

Ädelost – Päron {pear} or Whiskey – Pear flavor cheese in a tube? Ummm…delicious???
Ädelost - Cheese in a tube!

Julskum {Christmas marshmallows} – must have Christmas food, though not as tasty as American marshmallows.
Julskum - Swedish christmas marshmallows

Annas Pepparkakor
Annas Pepparkakor

Aladdin Chocolates
swedish christmas candy - Aladdin

Julmust – Christmas cola
Julmust - The definitive Swedish Christmas soda

Julsenap {Christmas mustard} – sold at the pharmacies, I have no idea why.
Julsenap - Christmas mustard

I found out Amazon.com has a lot of Swedish food you can buy through the site. I picked out the most well known products. Click on the image to get to the product page. They even have Kalles Kaviar and Wasa knäckebröd!

Homemade Swedish Semlor! {Recipe}

I figured since many of you are not in Sweden for the semlor eating festivity of fettisdagen, I would write a post on making your own semlor.   And if you are in Stockholm, be sure to check out the best semlor in the city.

Dagmar, who blogs at A Cat in the Kitchen, wrote a semlor recipe article a few years and I decided to try it out.   Let me just say, they were delicious!

Semlor are not hard to make but they are labor and time intensive.   My weakness, however, is bread making and I was terrified of a making a double rise bun (similar to lussekatter).   The buns could have stayed in the oven a minute or two less. Overall, my first go at making semlor was a success.

Plus, I learned to make fresh mandelmassa!

I adapted Dagmar’s recipe to make the semlor a bit more nutty in flavor and have a vanilla taste in the cream.

Semlor – makes 12
Ingredients
Buns
100g butter
300ml milk
1.5tsp cardamom
50g fresh yeast
a pinch of salt
100ml sugar
1 egg
1.5tsp baking powder
900-1200ml of plain wheat flour (about 540g – 720g)

To brush on the buns
1 egg + a small amount of water

Almond paste
200g blanched almonds
200ml icing sugar
1 drop of bitter almond extract – optional
100ml milk – hot

Whipped Cream
800ml double /whipping cream – cold
100ml or so Powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Making the semlor bread bun - part iMaking the Buns

  1. Melt the butter and combine with the milk. Make sure that the mixture has the right temperature, which is 37 degrees C.
  2.  

  3. Crumble the yeast in a large bowl or a kitchen aid. Add the milk and egg mixture and stir until the yeast has dissolved.
  4.  

  5. Add cardamom, sugar, salt, egg, milk, butter and baking powder, and combine.
  6.  

  7. Begin adding flour, 200-300ml at a time, while you work with the dough. Make sure not to use too much flour.
  8.  

  9. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and soft. It will have a ‘fluffy’ feeling.
  10.  

  11. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with a slightly damp cloth. Let rise for about 45 minutes.
  12.  

  13. When the dough has risen (it will not have doubled), knead the dough for a few minutes and add more flour if the bread is sticky.   I only needed enough flour to cover my hands.
  14.  

  15. Make twelve round balls.   Put them on two baking sheets that are covered with parchment paper.  You want to keep the buns well space from each other because they will double in size.
  16.  

  17. Cover the buns with a damp cloth and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they have doubled in size.
  18.  

  19. Make an egg wash mix by beating one egg with a couple spoons of water.
  20.  

  21. Brush the buns with the mixture.
  22.  

  23. Bake in the oven (225 degrees C) for 8 minutes, make sure not to burn them.

 
 
 
Making the mandelmassa - part iiAlmond paste

  1. Dry roast the blanched almonds on high heat for 10-15 minutes.  Continuously stir them so they do not get burned.
  2.  

  3. To grind the almonds there are fews options:
     
    a. Kitchen mill – Ideal, so use it.
     
    b. Food processor – Grate the almonds in a food processor and then use the food processor knife so that you get a very fine mixture.   Now add the icing sugar and the bitter almond.   Mix some more. Add some drops of water so that the almond paste binds together.
     

    c. By hand and blender – I smashed the almonds by hand buy taking apart my marble rolling pin and using the end to smash the almonds.   I placed the almonds in a small steel pot, something that could handle the weight and power of marble.

  4.  

  5. Once the almonds were pulverized into small grains, I added 100ml of powdered sugar and 100ml of hot milk to bind everything.
  6.  

  7. Transfer this grainy-pasty mix to a blender and blended it for 2-3 minutes.   This works wonders as the paste became smooth and buttery.
  8.  

  9. Add an additional 100ml of sugar to make the paste nice and sweet.
  10.  

  11. If the paste gets too thick, you can add a couple spoons of warm milk to thin it down.   Almond paste should be the consistency of a thick jam.

 
Whipped cream

  1. In a large bowl, hand whip or electric whip the cream for a few minutes.
  2.  

  3. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue whipping.
  4.  

  5. Be sure NOT to over whip.  The cream should be strong enough to make peaks and be ‘fluffy’ to eat.  I prefer hand whipping as you can feel how structured the cream becomes.
  6.  

  7. Hand whipping takes about 15-20 minutes.

Assembling the semlor - part iiiAssemble the Buns
 

  1. Wait for the buns to cool completely.
  2.  

  3. Cut off a small “lid” on the top-side of the buns. Put the lids aside.
  4.  

  5. Scoop out the crumbs from the buns, making a small hole. Be sure the hole isn’t too deep!
  6.  

  7. Fill each bun with about two spoons of the almond paste.
  8.  

  9. In a pastry bag with a large circle or star tip, fill with whipped cream.
  10.  

  11. Pipe the cream over the almond mixture, covering the entire bun and going 3-4cm (about 2inches) in height. Who doesn’t love whipped cream on their semlor?
  12.  

  13. Place the “lids” on top of the whipped cream bun.
  14.  

  15. Finally, dust with powdered sugar.

Voilà, c’est fini!


Enjoy with a latte or in a bowl with warm milk!

The Best Semlor in Stockholm – A Guide to the Best Bakeries

Fat Tuesday {fettisdag} is coming up in Sweden. It’s the day marking the beginning of Lent and giving up on something you love.

It is also the day to stuff yourself silly with the Swedish dessert, called semla or fettisdagsbulle. Here’s a short history about the semla but what you really need to know is why this is a heavenly treat.

The components of a semla

We’ll start at the bottom. The bun is soft, fluffy, and fresh. Hint of crushed cardamon will aromate the bread.

Next is the mandelmassa, almond paste. It’s sweet, fresh, and nutty. A real almond paste should be made with almond, surprise and without the almond extract to cover the nutty notes.

Third is the cream. Delicious, whipped cream. If Heaven was a food, it will be the cream in semlor. Sometimes the whipped cream comes with a hint of vanilla and structured with powdered sugar.

Finally, there’s the ‘hat.’ It is the little piece of bun that was cut out to make way for the almond filling. The hat is then slice and leveled off and topped with powdered sugar.

Swedes will eat a semlor on Fat Tuesday but it is becoming more common to have them earlier in the year. Some Swedish people eat their semla the traditional way: in a bowl of warm milk.

Since I wanted to pick the best semlor in Stockholm, I decided to have a jury of taste tasters.

Each taster hailed from a different country and have a long standing experience with eating sweets. All have enjoyed semlor at one point or another. And none can eat one with a bowl of warm milk. Sorry Swedes.

Here is the judging panel before the mission began

We picked semlor from bakeries all over the city: famous and hole in the walls spots. However, two bakeries, Lisas Cafe & Hembageri and Vetekatten were not included in the tasting. The bakeries receive an honorable placement because all of us agreed that they make delicious semlor (we have on our own time, had semlor at both the bakeries).

Blind Tasting
Each semla was assigned a number (1 to 10 but 1 & 2 were the same semla) and that was keyed onto a separate sheet of paper. My friend and I split the numbering and filling in the key, so we too would not be certain where each semla hailed from.

Grading System
We based the reviews on four categories: looks, bread taste, cream taste, and almond paste taste. Each category was worth a maximum of ten (10) points, where ten is the best.
The Looks category was judged first before the bun was dissected and destroyed by the tasters.
There were five judges on the panel.

Tallying the score
I totaled each category across all the tasters to determine the grand winner. There is a maximum of 200 points that can be awarded to a semla and 50 points per category.

The Swede served as auditor to double check the additions and transcriptions made from the notecards.

Bröd & Salt
Cream – 29
Almond – 30
Bread – 21
Looks – 34
Total – 114

Notes – This was a good, solid semla. It didn’t wow us in anyway and it didn’t disappoint.
Contact – Three locations. Hammarby Allé 66A, 120 62 Stockholm ? Renstiernas Gata 28, 116 31 Stockholm ? Birkagatan 15, 113 36 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Gunnarssons – Regular
Cream – 11
Almond- 16
Bread – 21
Looks – 35
Total – 83

Notes – The regular semla at Gunnarssons was a shock that it became the lowest scoring bun in our tasting. The bread was dry and the cream tasted a bit sour, it had just passed the “good by” date.
Contact – Götgatan 92, 118 62 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Gunnarssons – Special
Cream – 35
Almond – 27
Bread – 33
Looks – 36
Total – 141

Notes – If you head to Gunnarssons, definitely buy the ‘special’ and skip the regular. The ‘special’ was the only semla in the tasting panel that invoked confusion, love, and hate because of the mixed mandelmassa and grädde. Since there was no separate mandelmassa in the bread bowl’s bowel, the ‘special’ received low marks. Still, the mixed whipped cream and bread were perfect.
Contact – Götgatan 92, 118 62 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Bästa Bageriet – WINNER!
Cream – 40 – Heavenly cream!
Almond – 33
Bread – 35
Looks – 35
Total – 143

Notes – Bästa was a true surprise. It was near perfect on ever tasting and the only response from the judge’s panel were “ooooo, yummm” and “if this is what god intended for a semla, it is this one here.” Bästa Bageriet was nearly left off the tasting panel. It’s a hole in the wall bakery next to Maria Torget. Most of you have passed it by but never realized it even existed.

Bästa tied Sturekatten to be the co-winners and it goes to show both famous and small bakeries can make the best.
Contact – Swedenborgsgatan 4B, 118 48 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Chic Konditori – Karlsbadensemla
Cream – 32
Almond – 30
Bread – 35
Looks – 36
Total – 133

Notes – Delicious but different. The roasted nuts on top were walnuts instead of almonds and delicious on their own, they took away from the overall taste. The bread was not a traditional taste either but it was fluffy and well balanced. Overall, this is not a first time semla to eat but rather for those on an adventurous path for something new.
Contact – Swedenborgsgatan 1, 11848 Stockholm.
 
 
Chic Konditori – Regular
Cream – 14
Almond – 27
Bread – 26
Looks – 31
Total – 98

Notes – The regular version of Chic Konditori’s semla was a disappointment. The cream was a tad overwhipped and was over-structured; basically it was a few short steps from butter. Blogger KistaChic remarked, “there are so many nice things to do with a bread; this isn’t one of them.” Overall below average.
Contact – Swedenborgsgatan 1, 11848 Stockholm.

 
 
Kista Gallerian – Complé Konditori
Cream – 24
Almond – 25
Bread – 37 – Sexy bun!
Looks – 36
Total – 122

Notes – When we saw this semla, we fell in love. It was a bun of near perfection, large and fluffy. Unfortunately the cream was a bit over-whipped and the almost paste tasted of artificial extract flavors but the bread itself was perfect.
Contact – Kista Gallerian. Website.

Sturekatten – WINNER!
Cream – 39
Almond – 36 – Nuttiest Almond!
Bread – 34
Looks – 34
Total – 143

Notes – One of two powerhouses known to produce the best semlor in the city; the other being Vekekatten, Sturekatten did not disappoint. Cream was perfect; light, airy, and melt in your mouth goodness. The almond paste was fresh and nutty tasting and with bits of nut in it. Definitely a semla to be reckoned with.
Contact – Riddargatan 4, 114 35 Stockholm. Website.
 
 
Liljeholmen – Regular {We don’t know the name of the bakery}
Cream – 32
Almond – 36 – Nuttiest Almond!
Bread – 34
Looks – 26
Total- 126

Notes – The mandelmassa was unusual in that we could taste raw grains of sugar along with the almond. The effect was a crunchy but harmonious bursting of sweet, nutty, fatty and smokey in your mouth. We loved how this mandelmassa was different from the rest. The bread was fluffy and flavored just right with the cardamom.
Contact – Unfortunately, we’ll never know where this bakery is. The sweet memory of cream and almond will remain in our stomachs forever.
 


Best Semlor around Sweden


These recommendations came in from readers around the web.

Malmö
Cafe Systrar & Bröder – via FredricL

Göteborg
Post your favorite below and we’ll include it!

Halmstad
Megalagom did a taste test and posted about it here. Read her best & worst of the city!

Stockholm Area
Årsta konditori – Located on the southern outskirts of Stockholm. Address – Årstavägen 51, 12054 Årsta. Shared by Reddit member vonadler
Vetekatten – Have some of the best semlor. Address – Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm
Lisas Cafe och Hembageri – A cute, quaint, serve yourself style cafe, Lisa’s semlor are also one of the best in Stockholm. Address – Skånegatan 68, 11637 Stockholm
Dessert & Choklad – Famous for their silky texture. Address – Patentgatan 7, 112 67 Stockholm. Submitted by Grace.
Tösse – Have a special crème anglaise semla. Karlavägen 77, 114 49 Stockholm. Submitted by Grace.

Borlänge
Almas Café – There is a saffron semla that is to die for. Suggested by Reddit member pnilz. Address – Vattugatan 3, 784 33 Borlänge. Website.

Fine Dining at a Swedish Restaurant

I heard this from a reader and just couldn’t stop laughing. Now I know we pick on men a lot for saying dumb things, but this, from a Swedish girl, is priceless.

An English guy who is dating a Swedish girl asked her to take him to a nice Swedish restaurant in Sweden.

Knowing that there were just too many Swedish restaurant choices, she took him to the one place with universality when it comes to food.

Blindfolded, they took the train and bus to this mysterious restaurant. When she took the blindfold off of him, the English boy saw “I K E A” in giant, yellow letters on the side of a building.

“IKEA?! Isn’t this a furniture store, not a restaurant,” he exclaimed.

“No älskling, there’s also a restaurant in here too!”

They went to the restaurant on the 4th floor and ordered meatballs with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes. It was after all, only 35SEK for 16 pieces.

“Just so you know dear, this isn’t a restaurant. It is a bloody canteen in a furniture store.”

“Yes, but you wanted Swedish meatballs didn’t you?”

Lesson learned – before you ask to go to a Swedish restaurant on a date, find out if they serve meatballs for 35SEK. And I wonder if you would go dutch.