Come Fika with Me (Again!)

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we last had fika together.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s a Swedish concept not unlike high tea in England. Instead of tea though, we usually serve strong coffee, along with a bite to eat. This could include anything from simple bread and butter, to open-faced sandwiches but traditionally is something sweet. More than just your typical 3 p.m. coffee break, it’s a time to press pause and chat with friends, or to just contemplate the events of the day.

As a baker with a semi-Swedish background, I’ve incorporated fika as much as possible into my regular routine. It’s better for you than you think! Taking the time to sit, relax and focus on your sensory experiences is restorative for your mind and also for your digestive system- having a little bit of food with your coffee can counteract the acidic, sometimes inflammatory, effects that coffee has on your stomach. Plus, I’m kind of a stress baker, so I have to some way of getting rid of all those extra sweets in my cupboard!

Ever since I started writing about my baking back in 2014, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to share some of my favorite classic recipes with you, as well as new ones that I’ve been longing to try. Last year’s fika was a chance to feature some of my favorites from the blog, and it’s amazing how many more recipes I’ve added to my collection since then.

I even got together with some other bloggers (twice!) to round-up even more recipe inspiration, first focusing on cakes, and then sharing our most-loved cookies.

Last year’s fika also featured a listing of some the cookbooks that grace my shelves. You’d better believe my collection of titles has expanded since then!

If you find the concept of fika as appealing as I do, I hope you’ll join me this year for my second annual fika party. Today’s post is just the first of many goodies this week- I’ll also be sharing a little more about where I get my inspiration, how I develop and test my recipes for the blog, and some of the adventures I’ve had in baking along the way.

For now, though, your only task is to decide what you’re going to have for fika. Here are some of my suggestions from the past year:

These Cranberry-Almond Biscotti are perfect for dunking in your coffee, and they’re gluten-free which makes them good for you. (Kind of?)

Looking to fika but still stuck with the kids? These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, or these Rocky Road Sour Cream Brownies are certain to pleasure sweet-tooths of all ages. Just mind any nut allergies, please.

I originally made these Date Pecan Bars for Christmas, but they pair perfectly with any hot drink any time of year, plus they’re super easy to make.

Impress your friends with this minty version of a Nanaimo bar that eliminates your need to bake, although there is some assembly required. (For more no-bake wonders, try these Butterscotch Bars, this Chocolate Roll, this Marshmallow Roll, this Pineapple Log, this Butterscotch Confetti or these S’mores Squares.)

For those of you looking for something a little less sweet, search no further than this surprisingly delicious Zucchini Bread. (You’ll have most people fooled into thinking it’s carrot cake!)

You won’t ever have to choose between sweet and salty flavors again with these addictive Pretzel Shortbread Bars.

The baking on this blog doesn’t stop there. I like to try out a new recipe out every two weeks or so, and you can find all my work archived into the following categories: cakes and pies, cookies, muffins and cupcakes, squares and loaves, and “other” (think lots of fruity surprises, and yummy candy).

And if you’re planning on throwing a festive fika for a crowd, I’ve got tips on how I bake for the masses here.

Even if you’re not a baker and you just enjoy baking, I hope you’ll join me for fika this week. We may not know each other but we’ve bonded already over our love of food, and it’s always a good excuse to kick back, relax, and enjoy some great company. Thanks for joining me!

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Do you fika, or have you incorporated a particular aspect of it into your everyday life? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and tell me everything- including how you like your coffee.

Or maybe you want to join in on the party too so leave your comments below along with a link to your favorite recipe, or one of the best featured on your blog! The more the merrier!

Baking with B: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

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My childhood home was within walking distance of my elementary school and because my parents ran their own business they were often around during the day and I was lucky enough to go home during the lunch hour and decompress before heading back to class for the afternoon. This lasted all the way through high school, so I consider myself pretty lucky to skipped the ritual of navigating the cafeteria and its famously terrible food throughout most of my grade school career.

Seeing all the kids going back to school made me a little nostalgic for ye olden days, so I decided to make these cupcakes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite childhood sandwich. (I realize this assertion dates me but give me a break here- when I was younger we had zero peanut butter allergies in our school and these would have totally been allowed.)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes (makes 18)

Cupcakes
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. smooth peanut butter
3 large eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
strawberry jam, for topping

Frosting (makes about 3 c.)

6 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. icing sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar in medium-sized bowl. Add peanut butter, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla (in that order, thank you very much) and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Mix in with wet ingredients gradually until well-combined.

Grease muffin pan or line with liners and use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops spring back to the touch. Place on a rack on cool completely before icing.

B’s Tip: You can make the frosting ahead of time as it keeps for up to 2 days in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature and mix until smooth to get it all spreadable again.

To make the frosting, cream icing sugar and cream cheese together in a medium-sized bowl. Add salt, and mix in gradually the peanut butter, then the vanilla. Whisk cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks form, then fold into peanut butter mixture. Frost cupcakes and decorate each with a dollop of jam in center. Decorated cupcakes will last in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days.

B’s Tip: If you’re using a jam with a lot of whole berries in it, make sure to macerate any larger chunks of fruit before decorating. Trust me, it makes the whole dolloping experience way easier.

 

These cupcakes are surprisingly moist and cake-y and probably are just as great for you as the sandwiches were. So why not call a spade, a spade, and eat your PB and J in cupcake format? The consensus is that strawberry jelly is the way to go, but my personal favorite is raspberry. What’s your jam? (See what I did there?)

KBwB-BFlower-50Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.