Aha there Sweden. Home of the cardamom bun. There is no nobler or more exciting afternoon treat in my greedy mind’s eye. Anyone who knows me well will have been subjected to my endless droning on regarding these noble, sticky spiced pastries. Cinnamon buns, you’re perfectly nice and all that, but take a hike. Cardamom is the most bewitching spice – musky, perfumed and intoxicating, a bit like patchouli incense in edible form and so much nicer. I am a cardamom bun nerd and can tell you just about everywhere in London that sells good ones. (There aren’t that many places that do them).* My freezer usually has a stash of these buns tucked away for regular cardamom-mery.
A couple of weekends ago my husband and I fled to Stockholm for a heady 36 child-free hours, to celebrate his grand ageing process. We’re not that fussed about doing the traditional sights – we’re pretty happy trudging the streets and for that, we needed bakeries and cafe pit stops. Or ‘fika’ as they say in Sweden – which means a cake break with coffee and talking to real-life other people. (How splendid to have a single word that signifies cake, gossip and hot drinks).
Hi there, Stockholm:
You can’t move far in this city before stumbling into little bakeries and coffee shops. There are so many groovy independent places to choose from, all winking at you with their ranges of fresh cakes, cookies and glorious bunnage. (Could this be an official word for a bun collective?)
Our first breakfast was at Kaffebar in Sodermalm. Behold the beautiful triptych of tall, strong coffee, juice and pillowy cardamom buns. I became quite beside myself:
Excited, moi? Very uncool with all the grinning:
Cool Swedish people:
However, the cardamom bun winner of the weekend came from Cafe Vurma in Hornstull. I mean, just LOOK at it. The size of a child’s head, oozing a caramel and butter crust, soft, buttery…OOF:
As devout as I am, even this bun tested me in its size and strength – cardamom seeds crunching between my teeth. I felt high as a kite afterwards on the sugar rush, and I wobbled out into the street afterwards completely unable to focus on anything.
Cafe Vurma is gorgeous with its tiled floors and murals:
Many treats are available from the lady with the (ahem) moustache:
Cardamom buns are always on offer at branches of Fabrique, who also have a few London outposts. Their spiced pastries are really good, tremendously buttery and definitely worth checking out over here:
There is a medium sized building on the dockside near the Fotografiska photography museum, where the bakery chain Brod & Salt Bageri make cardamom buns 24 hours a day!!!!!! It’s full of machinery, great big buckets of dough and giant mixers with dough hooks. Arrrrrrrgh!
Buns were urgently needed for the journey back to England so I bought half a dozen of the fine chaps below for the freezer at home. They tucked nicely into my hand baggage, smelling fragrant and floral…why didn’t I buy more? That’s because everything in Sweden costs fucking loads. It almost became a joke – want a pair of small ales from a bar? That’ll be £16. Ha! It’s a good thing we couldn’t stay any longer than 36 hours because frankly our credit cards couldn’t take it. If you are loaded, however, I recommend staying a couple of days more, because we felt we didn’t really get a proper feel of the city as it’s rather spread out via its different islands.
Other rushed and unbalanced Stockholm observations:
You can buy logs in some city-centre supermarkets.
We saw a large amount of sparrows bustling about on the pavements. Which is possibly why there are none left in England – they now live in Sweden.
Lifts are called ‘Hiss’.
One cafe we went to allowed you to self-serve your own granola at the bar. I couldn’t be trusted with this, I would just take the whole frigging tub!
There are not as many statuesque, blonde Swedes in Stockholm as you might expect. Most people look quite ‘normal’ and you could be anywhere in Europe, but then suddenly the occasional blonde giant rises above all the small, ordinary folk.
And here are a few more food-related photos, not really related to buns at all…
If you want a treaty dinner with very Scandinavian ingredients, go to Hantverket, where the food is absolutely incredible – you’ll eat ‘bleak’ fish roe, birch, squid, strange cheeses, fresh green broths, ooooh it really is very good. Just be warned – the cheapest bottle of wine is £65!!!
Newsagent with hot dogs a-rollin’ at the counter. Nice:
The Fotografiska museum has an amazing cafe. Behold an open prawn sandwich on rye bread and a wonderful berry crumble tart with cold vanilla cream:
Two small ales milady? That’ll be £16:
Our Air B’n’B host had some very Swedish things in her fridge:
And surely only in Sweden would you find Oatly in a vending machine on the subway:
Good old Stockholm: I liked you VERY much.