8 Scandinavian Pastries You Absolutely Have to Try
Great British Bake Off Season Finale
In honor of the wrapping up of another magnificent season of The Great British Bake Off (the show’s tenth), I thought I’d explore some of the best pastries, I’ve ever had.
For those not in the know- surprise! I’m Swedish. For more on that, check out Sweden 101, but in the meantime…
I’ve been going back and forth to Sweden whenever possible since I was a kid. No matter how frequently (or not) I’ve managed to get over, there are a few things I make sure to never miss. And Pastries are definitely at the top of my list.
Scandinavian pastries feature a lot of fresh creams, sharp seasonal fruits, almonds, and a wide variety of spices like cardamom and saffron. It is traditional to enjoy a pastry or sweet treat almost every day, most normally during ‘Fika’, or coffee break, rather than after dinner. In addition, Scandinavian pastries aren’t as sickly sweet as some of their American counterparts. Some of these pastries are going to have you drooling through your computer screens.
- Tosca & Mazariner
- Polar Balls
The best news for you is that you don’t actually have to go all the way to Sweden to try some of these delectable delicacies. If you live in South Florida, you can find most of these at Polar Bakery in Lake Worth all year round.
Budapest is awesome, and I am putting it in here first because it is probably one that you’ve never heard of. No, it’s not Hungarian. This Swedish desert is actually a hazelnut meringue wrapped around piles of fresh cream, studded with mandarin orange segments, and drizzled with chocolate. The base is similar to a French Dacquise, but the fresh cream and hits of citrus shine through beautifully against the hazelnuts. And, bonus points, because it is based on a meringue, Budapest is Gluten Free.
Based on a french classic, Napoleons are a constant in Swedish coffee shops. The Scandinavian version features a seedless raspberry jam rather than chocolate or caramel and is all the better for it. Layers of thin buttery pastry followed by raspberry, more flaky pastry, luscious creme patisserie (custard), fresh cream, more pastry, and finally more raspberry and icing.
I was initially surprised when I found out that Kladkakka rated #1 as the most popular recipe on SortedFood (a hilarious UK based food program, seriously you have to check them out!). But really, I shouldn’t have been. This classic chocolate Swedish cake is the best version of a brownie you will ever have. Baked until just cooked, the center is still molten and gooey. Traditionally paired with fresh cream and berries, or else just topped with a little bit of powdered sugar and served with coffee, more and more flavor varieties have been evolving over the years. But that will have to be a story for another day.
Biskvi! These ridiculous little UFO-shaped cookies come in literally any variety you can dream of, though common flavors are pear, raspberry, chocolate, or lemon. An almond macaroon topped with flavored buttercream and sealed in with a delicate chocolate shell, they also happen to be Gluten Free. Sweden has a lot of gluten-free pastries, most of which originate a few hundred years before the discovery of gluten. They weren’t exactly designed to be GF friendly (though it’s a perk), but that is just a natural side effect of their being delicious!
Tosca or Mazariner
These are GOOD. I prefer Mazarine’s myself, but it’s a personal choice. You can get them in four-packs at almost any corner shop, but really, spend a couple of Krona more and get a good one at your next coffee stop – the difference is worth definitely worth it. It’s a buttery short pastry shell filled with almond frangipane goodness. Tosca is the toasted almond and butter mixture that tops one variety. Mazarine does not have a Tosca topping, instead, they use icing, but contain a hidden layer of raspberry at the bottom. Those of you from the UK might also recognize them as a ‘Bakewell Tart’ (but with raspberry instead of cherry).
These pair AMAZINGLY with a good cup of coffee. Reich, creamy, crumbly, and deeply satisfying. Oats are blended with a mixture of butter, sugar, cocoa, and (optional) coffee before being scooped into balls and rolled in sugar or coconut. You might find them under different names like Delicatoboll (brand name) or chocolate ball but this is what they call them at the bakery near me. Again- happens to be Gluten Free. More importantly, great for making with the kids! Every Swedish child has made these at some point in their life as this is a no-bake recipe.
Oooohh… dear heavens above do I love these things. They have a unique flavor to them (from the alcohol) that took some getting used to, but now my biggest problem is cutting myself off. Also called Punsch Rolls they are boozy, chocolaty, gooey little tubes wrapped up in marzipan, and dipped in chocolate at both ends to seal. Try having just one, I dare you…
*Fun Fact: they are called dammsugare because that is the Swedish word for vacuum cleaner. The green tubes look like the green bags on old fashioned vacuum cleaners.
Princesstorta, aka Princess Cake. Now, this is probably the one you were expecting to see at the top of this list. Risen to internet fame as a Technical Challenge in the Great British Bake Off. Princesstorta is an absolute desert miracle and the national cake of Sweden. We have it for birthdays, Easter, midsummer, Tuesdays… you name an event and we’ll find an excuse to have Princesstorta. The cake was chosen for the technical challenge because it is so tricky to make (Nancy, I love you, but your marzipan was WAY too thick).
Light vanilla cake followed by a layer of raspberry and another layer of cake, a thick layer of whipped cream and custard, more cake, and all of it blanketed in a thin layer of Marzipan. The cake is light, creamy, indulgent, not too sweet, and, well, just perfect.
But don’t take my word for it. Try some yourself. I’m getting a polar ball and a cup of coffee as soon as I’m done writing this. If you don’t live in South Florida, try and find a real Scandinavian bakery near you. But be warned – you’ll never be able to enjoy packaged pastries again.
You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.