Fika: a Swedish thing

Elin talks to us about the traditional Swedish custom of Fika, and how this important part of her culture has shaped her home-cooking in Bristol.

Originally from Sweden, Elin has lived in Bristol for 13 years and runs Fika Bristol from her home bakery in Southville. She makes new and traditional Swedish biscuits, cakes, cardamom, and cinnamon buns.

 In Sweden, we never just ask someone around for a cup of tea, it’s always fika. Fika is one of the first concepts you learn growing up in a Swedish family. 

Fika is Swedish for a coffee break that’s more about socialising than drinking coffee. Swedes prefer not to translate the word fika. They don’t want it to lose significance and become a mere coffee break. It is one of the first words you will learn when visiting Sweden, right after tack (thank you) and hej (hello).

Fika is much more than having a coffee. It is a social phenomenon that is essential in Swedish daily culture. It is about setting aside moments for quality time and to relax. It can happen at any time, morning to evening. It can be savoured at home, at work or in a café.  It may be shared with family, friends, colleagues, or someone you want to get know. The tradition is practised frequently, preferably several times a day. Sweet accompaniments are crucial; cinnamon buns, cakes, biscuits, even open- faced sandwiches are acceptable fika fare.

It comes as no surprise that Swedes are among the top consumers of coffee and sweets in the world – or that Swedes appreciate the good things in life.

I run “Fika Bristol” from my house in Southville and being part of All About the Cooks give me a chance to share the concept of fika with fellow Bristolians. My most popular bakes are probably my cinnamon rolls.

On the 4th of October the cinnamon roll has it’s own day in Sweden, started back in 1999 by the home baking society. I love making (and eating) cinnamon rolls. One of my best childhood memories is coming home after school to a kitchen smelling of cinnamon rolls, then enjoying a warm roll with a glass of cold milk – heaven!

 I bake cinnamon rolls in my kitchen in Bristol weekly, and my daughter likes to say, “I wish I could eat the smell”. They are not difficult to make, just be sure to give yourself plenty of time.

 Why not have a go? Below is a recipe from my baking booklet BAKA. Or order online here.

Go and fill your house with the smell of freshly made rolls and invite someone over for a fika! Elin x



50g fresh yeast (or 14g fast-action dried yeast then mix it with the flour)
500ml of full fat milk
125g butter
0,5 tsp salt
130g sugar
1 tbsp. ground cardamom 
900g Plain flour


150g soft butter
130g sugar
1-2 tbsp. ground cinnamon 


1 egg                        

100ml of pear sugar or flaked almonds



1. Melt the butter.

2. Add the milk to the butter and warm the milk to 37C. (feel the heat of the milk with your fingers. Rather a bit cooler than too hot).

3. Crumble the yeast in a bowl and add a little of the milk to dissolve it.

4. Add the rest of the milk along with all the other ingredients for the dough and knead it by hand for 15min or 10 min in a dough mixer.

5. Let the dough rise while covered for 45-60 minutes.

6. Mix the filling together and turn the oven on 220C fan oven, 240C conventional (Gas mark 7)

7. Roll out the dough so it’s approximately 3mm thick and 60 x 30cm. Then spread the filling over the rolled out dough and then roll it up from the long side.

8. Place the rolls in cases (optional) on a baking tray and let them rise under a tea towel or cling film for about 45 minutes or until the buns have roughly doubled in size. 

9. Beat the egg and brush carefully on the buns. Sprinkle pearl sugar on top.

10. Bake in the oven for 7-8 mins. Allow to cool on a rack and then tuck in!    

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