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: Pretzel Shortbread Bars

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There’s just something about the combination of salty and sweet that’s just so addictive; I can’t describe it. I’m not really into anything like chocolate-covered potato chips (my tastes often veer towards the traditional) but anything that involves salted caramel, or anything like these tasty bars below is totally my jam. Or my salt. Or whatever.

Pretzel-Shortbread Bars (makes about 2 dozen)

3 1/4 cups salted miniature twist pretzels

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325F. While it’s pre-heating, pulse 1 ¾ c. pretzels in a food processor until powdery. Transfer 1/2 cup to a bowl; discard any remaining pretzel powder. Stir in flour and baking powder. Transfer remaining 1 1/2 cups pretzels to food processor, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.

B’s Tip: Don’t have a food processor? Do it the old-fashioned way like I did and crush the pretzels a handful at time by placing them in a sealed Ziploc bag and grinding them down with a potato masher. To make the powder, strain crushed pretzels through a sieve. Just return any remaining pretzel pieces to the bag and repeat the process until you have enough pretzel powder to mix in with your flour.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, then pretzel-flour mixture, bit by bit until well combined. Mix in 1/2 cup chopped pretzels. Grease a 4 1/4-by-13 1/2-inch fluted tart pan or pie plate and line the bottom with parchment. Press dough evenly into pan and top dough with 1/4 cup chopped pretzels, pressing slightly. Discard any remaining pretzels. Bake until pale brown and firm in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let shortbread cool for 1 hour. Remove shortbread from pan, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide rectangles using a serrated knife.

B’s Tip: If you’re super organized and want to get things done ahead of time you can store these babies at room temperature for up to one week.

I have to admit- this was my first time making shortbread and it actually ended up being way easier than I thought. Sure, this recipe requires a fair amount of assembling, but the most difficult part was keeping them out of my mouth long enough to let my photographer shoot them for the blog!

Happy baking!

B

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Baking 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.