The Danish art of 'Hygge' seems to have mainstream this autumn; bookshops have shelves groaning with little books of Hygge and crafty books making tealight holders, bunting and all sorts of things that seem to be a quick way of publishers making a money. What is it? I'm reluctant to define something that comes from a country that I haven't even visited so I'll link to Brontë's definition. Fika seems a little easier, it's the Swedish equivalent of elevenses, coffee break or afternoon tea. Coffee is at the centre of it and it also includes biscuits, cookies and little cakes. On reading Fika & Hygge, one of the key elements for the home baker is a book called Swedish Cakes and Cookies or Sju Sorters Kakor which seems like the Be-ro cookbook in British culture. These are traditional baking recipe books that started back in 1920s (Be-ro) and 1945 (Sju Sorters Kakor), every household has at least one copy and they have each been through many editions. I bought a bargain copy from eBay and it is a delight. Hundreds of recipes, several tips and skills pages and a photo for each bake. We decided to have an excuse to bake more than just for the three of us and have a couple of friends round on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago.
The chief baker decided on Peppernuts which are a soft cakey spiced biscuits with a Christmas flavour (similar recipe here). These were an easy make and are lovely with coffee. She also chose something more complex, Napoleon Hats. These use a sweet pasty and a homemade marzipan which is then mixed with more egg and sugar so with all those processes, they took a while. We don't tend to cook with dairy very much so pastry always needs a lot of chilling as vegetable margarine replacing the butter is very soft. She made all the different mixtures over Saturday and Sunday and they came together on Sunday morning. I think they are intended to be quite tiny but for this first attempt they came out larger which turned out to be to all our benefit because they tasted amazing!
They have a very short pastry and a squishy soft centre, with a strong sweet almond flavour, so good. I got out all my pretty vintage coffee cups and sauces which are a hotch-potch of different patterns but as they all include a light blue, they work together. The house coasters were a gift from Penny, from this pattern and you can just see a mini table runner made a quilty friend, Megan.
The sun shone, we all sat around eating and drinking, talked recipes, caught up on news and had a glorious time, the best sort of Sunday morning. Any cookbook recommendations out there which combine baking and tradition from different countries?