FIKA-ing it out
We all know how amazing hygge is: the Danish hard-to-translate word conjures images of candles, fluffy socks and sweet treats. Hygge is a state of mind, and it effuses every cup of tea that Hoogly creates, giving tea-lovers a wonderful sense of cosiness, tranquillity and relaxation—but the Danes are not the only ones who have a little bit of magic up their sleeves. In Sweden they have a rival to hygge, a revolution that is now going global, with a tradition that shares a lot of traits with hygge. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Fika.
Like Hygge, Fika can be used as a verb (We’re Fika-ing today, people!) or a noun (It’s time for Fika!) and it basically means to meet, have a coffee and a chat. It can be done at any time of the day, and can last as long as several hours. It’s also a hugely popular treat for workers during business hours. It will surprise very few of you to learn that Fika is very therapeutic. Pausing from the hectic schedule, munching down on a cinnamon bun and having a hot drink while sharing a nice catch-up is beneficial to productivity, keeping minds fresh and in good spirits. So ingrained is Fika in Swedish culture that some firms add a contract clause stating that workers are entitled to Fika rast (coffee breaks!)
How did Fika come about? It’s thought that the origin of the word is a reworking of the syllables of ‘kaffi,’ the old spelling of coffee. Originally, the coffee was the centre of the ritual. Over time, fikabröd (fika bread) become just as important, the home-baked and fresh cakes tied in to the joyful social aspect of sharing something sweet and enjoying the moment together.
In the 1940s, guests who popped by for Fika were treated to something special. The finest china was on show, no help was needed with the washing up, and thanks to the best-selling book “Sju Sorters Kakor” (Seven kinds of biscuits), seven different types of cakes or biscuits were an obligatory presentation. Six was lazy, eight was showing off! ”Sju Sorters Kakor” is now part of Swedish culture, with each household squirreling away up to four copies, with Swedes firmly believing it’s the most influential book since the bible. There is a fear that Sweden may, in fact, sink in to the sea, due to the excess copies of this Fika literary treasure.
There are so many sweet options to choose from while you Fika, but a good place to start is the princess cake (prinsesstårta). This globe-shaped indulgence consists of a sponge base topped with vanilla pastry cream and oodles of fluffy whipped cream. It will often be enrobed with green marzipan, and crowned with a pink marzipan rose. Some modern bakers will add a thin layer of raspberry jam, although many original recipes omit it!
When summer rolls in, the jordgubbstårta comes out. This luxurious strawberry cake is a combination of sponge, vanilla cream and strawberry jam, covered in whipped cream and a pile of fresh, moist strawberries. Chocolate-lovers will be drawn to the kladdkaka (sticky cake) a gooey and rich delight, again balanced with whipped cream and fresh berries.
The kanelbulle—cinnamon bun—is a Swedish classic, served in most cafes and bakeries, and an all-time favourite amongst Fika fans. The heavenly fragrance lures you towards its filling, soft and bready body, offering the perfect treat to share with your Fika friends. (I’ll share the moment, but not the cake. Hands off, mate…)
Of course, we at Hoogly approve of Fika—but we would cheekily swap out the coffee for one of our delicious and relaxing teas, of course. And what better brew to enjoy a Scandinavian chit-chat break than Danish Pastry herbal infusion? Riffing on the Danish national treat, this wonderfully warming indulgence is infused with a chocolate and cinnamon aroma, and a deliciously comforting pastry taste. It will seduce tea (and Fika) lovers over and over again!
Alternatively, why not try Apple Strudel green tea—a classic combination of juicy apples and sweet spices, blended with Chinese and Japanese roasted green tea, creating a potent mix of authentic tradition and sweet modernity. Your Fika breaks have never tasted so good!
That’s it for now, Hoogly fans. I hope you all remain safe and well as we look forward to opening up and sharing Fika and Hygge as they were meant to be!
Written by Chris Bedford