Summer offers us the chance to slow down a bit, spend a little more time in the garden, linger in the extended daylight hours. It’s a time to be outside with friends, to gather and converse. What better way to gather than with food?
These two Swedish recipes from mother and daughter Britta and Anna Brones celebrate the best that the season has to offer, taking advantage of summer berries and leaving you with treats that are best shared with friends.
Hastkaka is a Swedish cake whose name literally means “hasty cake.” The name is apt, as it’s very quick and easy to put together. Its simplicity makes it perfect for summer baking or when you need a treat in a pinch, and with a wealth of variations that allow you to use what you happen to have on hand.
Britta got this recipe from her sister Lotta over 47 years ago when she still lived in Sweden.
Daughter Anna has it in her cookbook, “Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break.” She calls it blackberry almond cake, which is one variation. She also thanks her aunt for the recipe. But when Britta’s sister read it in the book she was surprised and asked why it wasn’t put together the easy way, in one pot. No bowl necessary.
“What?” Britta said, “You never told me that.”
For over 40 years, she cleaned a bowl, besides the pan.
When Britta told her sister over the phone that the recipe would be featured in Key Peninsula News, Lotta told her something about it that she had never heard. Lotta had been on a visit to see their mother in Sweden, and the two naturally shared fika.
Fika is a very important daily ritual for most Swedes; essentially coffee with a baked goodie, often enjoyed twice a day.
Lotta told Britta she had complimented their mother on her cake. It was made with rhubarb and cinnamon at the bottom of the pan, and she asked for the recipe. “Well, it’s your recipe,” Mom said. Lotta was thoroughly surprised. She had never put the fruit in the pan first, so the cake would have a smooth top.
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup natural cane sugar (or less to suit your taste)
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour or almond flour and/or almond meal for gluten-free version
1 cup fruit, can be berries, peaches, apple, pears, peaches or rhubarb
>Variations like chocolate chips can be added to the batter. Cinnamon mixed with a little sugar is nice sprinkled on top. Cardamom is good too
Preheat oven to 400. Grease and flour a 9-inch round pan. If making it gluten-free, use almond flour.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add sugar and vanilla, then stir in the eggs and finally the flour. Mix until the batter is smooth and creamy.
Pour the batter into the baking pan, scatter or arrange berries or fruit slices on top. Frozen berries are great. Or start with the rhubarb on the bottom, like Grandma did.
You don’t need to press the fruit into the cake, their weight makes them sink in during baking.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown on top. Let the cake cool before serving.
A final variation: It’s great served straight from the freezer. But cut the slices before you freeze them.
Drottningsylt - Queen’s Jam
Drottningsylt, or “Queen’s Jam,” is a staple of Swedish preserves. Made with part blueberries and part raspberries, the color is rich, and the taste is like summer in a jar. Serve it on toasted bread with butter, spoon some on top of yogurt, or even serve it with crackers and goat cheese for a sweet and savory appetizer.
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup cane sugar
Place the raspberries, blueberries and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until desired thickness, 15 to 30 minutes depending on the juiciness of the fruit.
To test the consistency, place a small plate in the freezer. Once the plate is cold, drop a spoonful of jam onto it. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then push the jam with your finger. If it has gelled and the skin wrinkles, then it is set. If it’s still liquid, continue cooking it down until you reach the consistency you want.
Remove from heat and pour the jam into a clean, sterilized jar. Screw on the lid and turn the jar upside down to create a vacuum. Let cool completely.
Store in the refrigerator and eat within a month.
Originally published in “Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break” (Ten Speed Press, 2015).
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