Välkommen till Sverige: Fikapaus and Princess Cake
As I’m starting to look back at my experience in Sweden, I’ve realized that I will maintain at least one Swedish habit when I return, fika. The word fika actually comes from the phrase to grab or take a coffee in Swedish and has come to refer to a coffee break in the middle of the day, typically accompanied by one of many various pastries, sweets, and friends. While I haven’t been very Swedish in taking a break from work (often my fikapaus involves a laptop and homework), I can at least enjoy the mentality behind it. That’s not to mention the utility of a coffee hour in a country where the sun sets by three in the winter.
Of the many sweets available in bakeries and cafés, one of the most “Swedish” is probably princess cake (with the possible exception of the kanelbulle, the Swedish version of a cinnamon roll). Though I often eat it with a coffee at the café near my apartment for fika, I couldn’t tell you whether that is something typically Swedish. The name princess cake comes from its origin with the Swedish Royal family. The cake itself is a spongy white cake interspersed with layers of cream (either whipped cream or a pastry cream or both depending on the bakery) and raspberry jam. However, what easily distinguishes this cake in any Swedish bakery is the covering of green marzipan, often topped with a marzipan rose. Marzipan is a sweet almond paste and is typically used in place of fondant or frosting to cover cakes in Sweden.
One of my roommates, who has an aunt who has lived in Sweden for a decade, adores this cake, which has lead my entire apartment on a months-long search for the best princess cake in Stockholm. Thus, it has become the cake of pretty much any celebration. If someone has a birthday; you can almost guarantee there will be a princess cake on the table. While I can’t say I have yet found the “best” princess cake in Sweden, I have reached the conclusion that I’ll miss it when I return to the States.