Kakor och fika

Kakor och fika

By
From
Lagom
Photographer
Yuki Sugiura

In the days when etiquette and tradition were of utmost importance, a kafferep was an excuse for women to get together without husbands or children. The best tablecloths and china would be laid out and several courses of baked goods would be presented. An essential component (after the sponge cakes and buns) was serving seven different kinds of cookies for your guests to choose from – no more and certainly no less.

While baking quite so many cookies is no longer seen as essential in proving your worth as a host, many of the different recipes from this time have endured. The diminutive size make them perfect to have with a cup of coffee for a quick fika or to stow in the cupboard for when you have an unexpected guest.

My personal favourites include my lovely Aunt Lotta’s caramel cookies, which were among the first things I ever baked. There were a few summers when I was completely obsessed with them – the penny having dropped that I could combine a few ingredients with the heat of an oven and create something delicious – so we had a constant supply in the cookie jar.

One of my most treasured summer pastimes is to trundle the short walk up the hill to my godparents’ house and sit in my godmother Margareta’s beautiful, sunny garden with a cup of coffee and her hazelnut bites. It is one of my favourite places in the world and I could while hours away there idly chatting, only moving to stretch for a refill or shoo away her lively (and appropriately named) pug, Cookie.

These recipes will all keep for at least a week or so in the cookie jar.

Saffron biscotti with raisins

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon milk
pinch saffron strands
100g butter, softened
60g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g plain flour
50g almonds, roughly chopped
50g raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Heat the milk in a small saucepan or microwave, then add the saffron and allow to infuse.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters for 2–3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then pour in the saffron milk, scraping to get every last red strand. Fold through the baking powder, flour, almonds and raisins to form a sticky dough.
  3. Mould the dough into 3 loaf-like shapes, about 15cm [6in] long and 3–4cm wide and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool slightly, then slice diagonally into 3-cm long biscotti. Spread out over the sheet, then return to the oven and turn it off, allowing the cookies to cool and dry out, ideally overnight.

Jam thumb cookies

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g butter, softened
60g golden caster sugar
pinch vanilla of powder
or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon baking powder
275g plain flour
raspberry jam

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat all the ingredients, except for the jam, together with a pinch of salt to form a crumbly dough. Roll the dough with your hands into walnutsized balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Gently press your thumb into each cookie, taking care so the dough doesn’t crack too much. If it does, gently push back together with the palms of your hands. Fill each resulting cavity with about 1/2 teaspoon of the jam. Bake for 10–15 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on the sheet.

Chequerboard cookies with vanilla & cocoa

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
275g plain flour
90g caster sugar
200g butter, softened
pinch vanilla powder
or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Method

  1. Place half the amounts of flour, sugar and butter into each of 2 medium bowls. In one bowl, stir through the vanilla and in the other beat in the cocoa so it’s well dispersed.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll each mixture into 2 long sausages, about 1.5cm thick and roughly 30cm long. Place a length of vanilla dough next to a length of cocoa dough and gently squeeze together. Repeat with the remaining dough and place on top of your first pair, but in the opposite order so the same flavours are placed diagonally. Use your hands to gently squeeze everything together as tightly and neatly as possible, trimming the ends if necessary.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes then preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Slice the dough into 4-mm thick cookies and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lotta’s caramel cookies with syrup

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
300g plain flour
200g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 tablespoons golden or maple syrup
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch vanilla powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into finger-thick sausage shapes. Flatten slightly with a fork, then cut on the diagonal and place well spaced out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15–18 minutes, then allow to cool completely on the sheet. If very wide, cut in half lengthways before allowing to cool.

Margareta’s nutty bites with hazelnuts & walnuts

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50g walnuts, plus 1 Tbsp
50g blanched hazelnuts, plus 1 Tbsp
100g caster sugar
250g plain flour
200g cold unsalted butter, cubed
icing sugar, (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Toast the walnuts and hazelnuts (reserving the extra tablespoon of each) in a dry frying pan until lightly golden, then tip into a food processor with the sugar and blitz until roughly chopped.
  2. Add the flour and butter and pulse until it comes together to form a dough. Roll into 4-cm thick sausage shapes, then chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Carefully slice into 1.5-cm thick circles and place evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet. Press a reserved hazelnut or walnut into each cookie.
  4. Bake for 10–12 minutes until golden, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving, if desired.

Finnish sticks with almonds & hazelnuts

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50g ground almonds
275g plain flour
60g golden caster sugar
200g butter, softened
1 egg white
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, roughly chopped
demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Method

  1. Beat the ground almonds, flour, caster sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Chill the dough for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into 1.5–2-cm thick sausages, then cut into 3–4-cm long “sticks” and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush each with a little egg white, then sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts and demerara sugar. Bake for 12 minutes until starting to go golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate & rye cookies with cardamom

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
400g chocolate, broken into pieces
75g unsalted butter
75g rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, split and seeds well bashed
or 1 tablespoon ground cardamom pods, split and seeds well bashed
4 eggs
200g dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Stir until smooth, then allow to cool slightly. Mix the flour, baking powder, cardamom and a pinch of sea salt together in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with electric beaters until pale and full of light bubbles, about 2–3 minutes. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thick, glossy and caramel coloured, then stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture and stir to distribute, then tip in the dry ingredients. Combine to form a thick, mousse-like dough, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Drop teaspoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet, taking care to space them out evenly and flattening slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 8–10 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the sheets before diving in.
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