This year marked the third annual NORTH nordic food festival in New York City, where people gathered to submerge themselves in Nordic culture and cuisine. My old sorority sister, Cassie, and I had the privilege of attending a semi-private baking and pastry class with FIKA’s Master Baker, Robert Tell. (c/o)
FIKA’s baked goods are created right in the heart of Hell’s kitchen in New York. Chef Tell started baking at the ripe age of sixteen, and has since cultivated his skills and worked at some of the highest ranking bakeries in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2015, he was voted one of the Top 10 Bread Bakers in North America by Dessert Professional, an industry leading publication. Aside from his impressive resume, Chef Tell was arguably one of the most patient and kind Chefs I’ve ever encountered! He lead the class with enthusiasm and passion, and created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and my fellow class-mates.
We started the class with a lesson in traditional Swedish cinnamon buns. Unlike most cinnamon buns you’ll find in the USA, these are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Instead of smothering them in a sugary glaze, the chef’s sprinkled sugar balls half way through baking them. Just look at these babies… like a work of art!
Next up, we made cardamom bows. We layered thin sheets of dough with a cardamom, cinnamon, and sugar butter blend before cutting them into thin strips. Then we wrapped them around our fingers and tied them into little bows. I, of course, was the start student. My bows were epic.
Next on the agenda were Princess cakes, which were my favorite for obvious reasons. Yummy sponge cakes were layered with raspberry filling and whipped cream before being topped with green marzipan. The recipe originates from an old Swedish story of two princess who decided to create their very own cakes in home-economics class. They came up with “Princess Cakes,” which are traditionally green and adorned with edible flowers.
Finally, Chef Robert Tell showed us the proper way to score bread. This is a common culinary technique which helps the bread break in pretty patterns, rather than splitting randomly on it’s own. It’s harder than it looks, but Cassie and I are quick learners.