Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cake Tour of Scandinavia

On my recent holiday to Scandinavia I thought I would delve into the world of Nordic baking to see what it has to offer...well it would have been rude not too! However, it was only when I sat down to write this post that I realised quite how much cake I've consumed over the last three's A LOT... but don't judge me...if anyone asks it was all in the name of "research". So settle in and take a look at these Scandinavian delights!
First up is a Raspberry & Passionfruit Mousse's not traditional but I couldn't resist as you may recognise the little chocolate picture on the top. It's a recreation of the 'Scream' by  Edvard Munch, I tried this one at the Munch Museum in Oslo and at £5 it wasn't cheap but then again Scandinavia wasn't cheap!
The next bun is called a Skoleboller which you can find everywhere in Norway. It's a bun flavoured with cardamom filled with custard and topped with icing and coconut. Very tasty...I may have sampled more than one! :-@
I'm not sure of the name of the next one but it was one of my favourites from W.B.Samson in central Oslo. It's layers of pastry filled with an almond paste, topped with icing and sprinkled nuts. Almond is a very popular ingredient in Scandinavian baking.
Moving on to Lillehammer from Oslo, this is a tea bun with a raspberry filling which was so tasty we had to go back again the next day. The cafe was lovely really had a Scandinavian feel to it!
Enjoying an apple tart after a cruise in the Fjords...some of the other tourists were giving me rather strange looks as I photographed my cake.
I have to say the bread in this part of the world is amazing. It's baked freshly in the bakeries and there are so many different varieties. If you're a fan of the Atkins Diet, can I suggest you don't move here!!
Next stop Bergen with colourful painted houses which you often see on promotional advertising for Norway.
I'm not sure if Rhubarb is a traditional baking ingredient in Scandinavia but it certainly appeared in a lot of the cakes and bakes on offer. It was particularly prevalent in Rhubarb tarts, most of which had a crumbly meringue topping. In order to redeem myself slightly I'd like to point out that I didn't actually eat this tart...although I did have a bite! :-)
Apparently no trip to Bergen is complete without trying a Skillingsbolle or cinnamon bun to you and me. The place to try them is Baker Brun. It hit the spot with a cup of tea after a morning of sightseeing.
Finally, we can't leave Norway without making mention of the Rosinboller...a raisin bun with a hint of cinnamon...particularly good when you want something little and a little less cakey!
Ok so we're onto Sweden where there were a number of different traditional bakes available. The Lonely Planet guide for Stockholm even suggests going on a Konditoi or bakery tour so of course I duly obliged. Apparently, coffee and cake is so popular in Sweden the concept even has it's own name...Fika.
One of the major flavours in Scandinavian baking is Cardamom. So I had to resist the temptation to order a delicious looking raspberry tart when I arrived in Stockholm and instead I went for the Cardamom cake. And what did I discover from this experience...that I don't particularly like's a bit of an acquired taste! :-@
Even the breakfast in the hotel was laden with lovely breads and rolls....
One of the recommended places to visit in Stockholm is Ostermalms Saluhall where you can scoff down Swedish delicacies. Whether it's meat, cheese, bread, cake or a three course meal you want, you can find it here.
I found one of my favourite cakes at Ostermalms Saluhall having been trying to track it down. It's a Princess Cake. It is fairly common to find it as a slice but I wanted the authentic experience...a dome cake made up of layers of sponge, fresh cream, vanilla custard and jam, covered in a delicate shade of green marzipan! It tasted really good and the marzipan was not overpowering. However, again it was not cheap at £5.
Princess Cake is believed to have been created for three Swedish princesses at the beginning of the 20th century. However, I particularly like the story that when Princess Estelle was born into the royal family this February 2012, apparently all bakeries immediately sold out of Princess cake and it was in high demand for many days.
The picture above shows Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden with her husband Daniel who she met when he was her personal trainer!
One of the bakeries that the Lonely Planet suggests you visit on your Konditori tour is Thelins Bakery. It was fairly standard inside but the array of cakes was quite mouthwatering. All of the treats above came from Thelins. On the left are two marzipan tarts which are popular in Scandinavia, one with jam which was my favourite and one with an almond-caramel crunch topping. On the right is a Vaniljbullar (vanilla bun) and an almond roll.

Finally, it's off to Finland
First stop here was Cafe Fazer which is an amazing bakery. It's highly recommended but at first I thought it might be an over-hyped tourist attraction with over-priced food...however it really was good. There were Finnish people queuing to get a seat which must be a good sign. Again there was a staggering array of bread, along with cakes and chocolates.

You can't see in the photo above but there were also the most fabulous window displays - high fashion meets cake! If you happen to be in Helsinki I'd also recommend the brunch 18 euros it's a little dear but you could pay nearly that in a hotel. The buffet has everything under the sun and it's all you can eat.
From the vast selection of cakes on offer at Cafe Fazer I chose a strawberry mousse tart which had a layer of rhubarb in the base and a meringue topping. It looks quite nice but wouldn't blow you away but when I tasted it I think it ended up somewhere near the top of my holiday cake list.
Okay we're nearly there...the penultimate bake was a Lingonberry tart, lingonberries are like a mountain cranberry and they seem to be very popular in Scandinavia. I popped into this cafe to escape the rain but I'm glad I did.
Last but not least is this Mazariini which tasted a little bit like a Bakewell tart. Pink icing seems to be popular in Scandinavia as there also seemed to be a lot of pink iced doughnuts available. If you visit Helsinki you should definitely visit Suomenlinna which is an 18th century fortress which you can reach by boat from the harbour. There's also a cute tea shop there which was serving these tartlets!
Finally, the top 5 Scandinavian flavours that seemed prevalent in these tasty treats were as follows:
  1. Cardamom
  2. Almond/marzipan
  3. Cinnamon
  4. Vanilla
  5. Rhubarb (not sure if this is a popular Scandinavian ingredient but it seemed to be in a lot of things!)
Phew! Well I hope after that little lot you're not feeling too caked out!! I really enjoyed my cake tour of Scandinavia and I wouldn't be surprised if I've gained half a stone in three weeks...perhaps I ought to try the 5:2 diet that seems to be popular at the moment. I was however surprised that cakes and breads are so popular in the Nordic region as I've never actually come across many of the bakes I've described here...perhaps Scandinavian baking needs more recognition.


  1. Wow who knew Scandanvia had so many baking delights, the mazarlini looks delicious as well as the lingonberry tart. Yum x

  2. Crikey what a post, amazing photos and cakes and bakes, loved it. x

  3. Great post - I've always wanted to visit Scandinavia, so it's been lovely reading about it and your cakey experiences. :)

  4. wow, now I'd love to visit it. And the bakes look so good! Very interesting trip for you.

  5. I really enjoyed reading this. Think the princess cake is my favourite! Your trip looked like a lot of fun! X

  6. Fabulous! They all look fantastic. I love the Scream cake and Princess cake. They seem to love bread as much as they do in Paris! Xxx

  7. Wow, thanks for the tour! Nice to hear which cakes are nice and which ones aren't so if I ever visit Scandinavia I'll have something to refer to. Looks like you had a great time!

  8. Love it! Fancy a trip myself now!

  9. What a lovely trip! I ate something really similar to the Princess cake this week and I had no idea what it was, but now I do! Thanks so much :D X

  10. Oh how wonderful, sounds like you had a fantastic time. I just love the idea of a three week cake tour. I know Scandinavian baking is up there with the greats, but don't really know much about it. Those flavours are all my favourites though, so I don't thin I'd be disappointed and I reckon I'd put on an awful lot more than only 1/2 a stone ;-)

  11. Wow wow wow, what an amazing holiday! I am so desperate to get to Scandinavia and you went to Norway, Sweden AND Finland?! now that's just greedy! haha! I have heard it's the most beautiful part of the world...I have friends in both Sweden and Finland and it is my goal to get there soon! and when I do I will be sure to indulge in a cake tour like you did! loved seeing all their different treats! Hope you had an awesome time!


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