Swedish Pastry Fusion: Beyond the Kanelbulle
Katharine Trigarszky explores the cafes in Stockholm that combine international with traditional Swedish baked goods to create Swedish pastry fusion.
Swedish pastry fusion
When you think about Swedish pastry and cakes, the mighty kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is probably what first pops into your mind.
The cardamom bun (kardemummabulle) and the light fluffy semla often fight for second place in the traditional Swedish pastry fight.
But, in the past few years, a new breed of cake shops are moving beyond these common Swedish staples and bring more options to fika lovers.
On entering MR Cake, you could be forgiven for lingering to gaze at the long counters of sweet treats.
Still, the café’s popularity and long lines could work in your favour.
You can browse the comprehensive range of doughnuts, layer cake, buns, and MR Cake’s signature red velvet croissants as you wait your turn.
This isn’t your usual fika spot.
From the art on the walls to the neon signs, MR Cake has a lively, fun feeling.
In the summer months, the tables outside are packed with people indulging in pastry and enjoying the sunshine.
MR Cake describes itself as “where American baked goods meet Swedish fika”.
The combination of layer cakes swathed in thick buttercream icing, doughnuts, and cinnabuns – the café’s cross between kanelbulle and American cinnamon rolls – certainly reflects that.
Among the books that co-founder Roy Fares has written, two are love letters to American cakes and treats.
His recipes, in one book focusing on New York and in the other on LA and the west coast, have helped popularise American baked goods across a wider audience in Sweden.
And alongside the cinnabuns at MR Cake, you can still find the ubiquitous kanelbullar, of course.
Origin of the kanelbulle
The cinnamon bun is now so closely associated with Swedish life that you can hardly imagine a fika break without one.
It might come as a surprise then to hear that its origins only stem back to the 1920s.
And Kanelbullens dag – cinnamon bun day on 4 October – is a mere 20 years old.
The kanelbulle has become synonymous with Sweden and available everywhere from fuelling stations to the most exclusive of cafes.
Its popularity has begun to spread in recent years as traditional Swedish bakeries have opened in London, New York, and other spots around the world.
This isn’t just a one-sided deal though.
Over the past couple of years, new bakeries and patisseries have opened in Stockholm that widen the range of cake choices and bring a more international feel.
Layer cakes and doughnuts are becoming increasingly popular as part of fika or for an afternoon treat.
Whisk is a small cake shop tucked away in Vasastan where you get the friendliest welcome from South African owner, Dina Mystris.
What sets Whisk apart is that Dina built a sustainable, eco-conscious cake shop.
All of Whisk’s ingredients are locally sourced, seasonal, and nothing goes to waste.
Dina is happy to chat with you while she works on a cake and is eager to spread the gospel of sustainability even in the bakery world.
And if you are too full for a cupcake or slice of cake? No problem; just try one of the small cake balls instead.
Made from the leftover cake mixed with organic apple juice, these little morsels are the perfect size for a post-lunch treat.
This sustainable philosophy is integrated into everything at Whisk.
Recycled yoghurt pots comprise the countertops and recycled wooden boxes serve as the takeaway boxes for your cupcakes.
Damien Foschiatti is another baker bringing an international flavour to Stockholm.
Fosch has just opened its second café on Birger Jarlsgatan in Vasastan.
The new café combines a French patisserie taste with a Nordic design aesthetic, with a focus on exquisite cakes and, of course, macarons.
Fosch is another bakery to put ingredients at the forefront, with flavours created by juicing locally sourced fruit and berries themselves to bring us treats such as sea buckthorn (havtorn) flavoured macarons.
It will be interesting to see where this trend moves next. Will more bakeries with an international twist open up, or will we see a return to more traditional cafes, perhaps offering a twist on the cinnamon bun? Or perhaps we’ll witness a move in a new direction: Antipodean pavlova, Middle Eastern baklava, or Austrian strudel? Whatever happens, I’ll certainly be trying it out.
Swedish pastry beyond the kanelbulle in Stockholm
- MR Cake, Rådmansgatan 12, Östermalm (Tekniska Högskolan T-bana)
- Whisk, Vikingagatan 18, Vasastan (Skt Eriksplan T-bana)
- Fosch, Birger Jarlsgatan 63 (Rådmansgatan T-bana)
Other spots with an international feel
- Haga Schweizeri, NK, Hamngatan 18-20.
Newly opened on the ground floor in the NK department store, this café offers “caketails” – a combination of a slice of cake or Swedish pastry with a cocktail.
- Tea & Garden, Dalagatan 36, Vasastan (Odenplan T-bana)
English-style afternoon tea with all the accompaniments (booking required).
- Gretas, Haymarket by Scandic (Hötorget T-bana)
Fun fact: the café at Haymarket is named after Greta Garbo. She once worked there when it was part of PUB. Scones and afternoon tea available.