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Have fika at Café Grassagården in Strägnäs

Posted in Sörmland E by

Today I share a unique fika hotspot in Sörmland that I discovered last summer during a press trip. Strängnäs is a small town situated next to Lake Mälaren, and is especially known because of the Strängnäs Cathedral. If you are in Strängnäs, you should definitely visit Café Grassagården in Strängnäs. Not only because of the delicious cakes you can eat there (definitely try the kardemummabulle!) But also because of the unique historic nature of this place.

Café Grassagården

The history of Grassagården

In the old days castles were usually surrounded by farms that supplied the food for the castles and for trade. Most of these castle farms in Sweden have disappeared but in Strängnäs you can still find one.

The Grassagården name comes from the Grassa family who runned a tavern in the 17th century on this place. The oldest houses date back to the sixteenth century. Currently one of the houses is a museum, another is a café. They are real historical treasures.

In 1871 a big fire broke out in the town of Strängnäs and they decided to rebuild the city as to make a kind of promenade to the church but Grassagården could remain because a lot of people lived there. Thank god for that, because the cottages offer a unique look at what it was like to live in Strängnäs, almost two centuries ago.

Fika hotspot

Fika at Café Grassagården

The tasty sweets at Café Grassagården are ‘hembakat’ or homemade by Magdalena and her team. You can taste the love with which the kardemummabulle and kanelbulle are made. It’s not cheap but I thought it was worth every krona. Prefer something savory? Magdalena also serves some light lunches (salads and sandwiches, quiche and some daily specials). In the winter months it is cozy and warm at the fire place and in the summer months you can fully enjoy the sun on the sunny terrace. During summer there are also music and theatre events.

Café Grassagården: practical

Opening hours

Café Grassagården is open daily from 10:00 till 17:00.

How to reach Café Grassagården

Strängnäs is an hour’s drive from Stockholm. Or take the train – Pendeltåget from Stockholm to Flemingsberg and from there to the station of Strängnäs. Café Grassagården is located at one kilometer of the station.

Adres: Kvarngatan 2, Strängnäs

In the neigbourhood

  • Roggebageriet
  • Strängnäs Cathedral
  • Visholmen

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Café Grassagården

Bake your own gingerbread or pepparkakor

Posted in Swedish Food by

When I am writing this blog post, the rain is tapping against the window. It really is such a perfect day to stay at home, wrapped up under a blanket and with the fire on,  with a cup of hot chocolate and some pepparkakor!

There are a few sweet delights that are absolutely linked to Sweden, like kanelbullar and pepparkakor or ginger biscuits. Even though I eat them throughout the year, pepparkakor are really typical for the fall and the weeks before Christmas 🙂

You can choose for the convenience of buying the biscuits at Ikea but if you want your whole house to smell pepparkakor-like, you should definitely try to bake them yourself! It takes a little bit of planning because you have to let the dough rest for a day but the result is well worth it!

Tip: make a lot of dough and bake some fresh cookies every day. You can safely store the dough for a few days in the refrigerator. You could even freeze the dough with no problems.

Pepparkakor (1)

Ingredients for pepparkakor

  • 150 gr of butter
  • 250 gr of crystal sugar
  • 50 gr of honey or syrup
  • 100 ml of water
  • 450 gram of flour
  • 1 spoon of cinnamon
  • 1 large teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom
  • sachet baking powder

Preparation

Mix the butter, granulated sugar and honey. Add the seasoning and water. Finally add the flour. Knead this rigidly and let it rest overnight. Cover it and let it rest in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and roll out the dough until it is about half a centimeter thick. Now you can release the artist within yourself and cut shapes to your choice. I chose minimalist round ones.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and let the cookies bake for five minutes. Be patience while they are cooling before tasting these delicious cookies!

Tip: Keep the cookies in a sealed tin. Do’nt worry about how long you can keep them. They are so tasty that they will be gone and eaten all very fast!

Extra’s suggestions: Decorate the cookies with some frosting or add some almonds or candied pieces of ginger. Real Swedes eat their pepparkaka with glögg!
Genuine creative people make a real gingerbread house with this dough.

History of pepparkakan

It is not immediately clear where pepparkakor come from. The Romans would have even known these cookies already! In England and Germany, the gingerbread biscuits cookies are very popular too. Presumably pepparkakor ended up in Sweden via Germany.
In the 14th century, the cookie was on the menu at the wedding of King Magnus Eriksson and Blanka av Namur. In the 15th century they used real peppers in the cookies. The nuns of the Vadstena convent baked cakes and sold them as a medicine. The cookies apparently have a calming effect and help with the digestion. Several centuries later the pepparkakor recipes were found in the cookbooks. In the 18th century it became a real “Christmas cookie”. Now you can find the cookies all year round.

Just like they have a day for kanelbullar, the Swedes also have a pepparkakans dag. This is celebrated every year on December the 9th.

Recipe for kanelbullar

Posted in Swedish Food by

One of the nice things in Sweden is fika. Although I am not a coffee drinker (don’t even try to explain that to a Swede), but I do love fika. Taking the time for a break, to socialize and to enjoy something sweet: I’m in! 

Recipe kanelbullar

When I am in Sweden I eat those kanelbullar or cinnamon rolls all the time. Even at home I sometimes really carve for a kanelbulle… Not to mention kardemummabullar!

Since 1999, October the 4th has been declared Kanelbullens dag or Cinnamon bun day. Yes, Sweden has a lot of festive days for food

When I have to catch my flight back home, I usually buy a few kanelbullar so I have my Swedish breakfast the next day. It softens the Sweden-blues instantly. When the going gets tough, I sometimes stop by at Ikea, just to eat a kanelbulle in their coffee shop. Guess you could call it an addiction. Although I think it is more like a Swedish melancholy. If Sweden or Ikea are no an option, I bake them myself!

Baking kanelbullar is definitely not difficult. I’ve baked kanelbullar several times already and tried different recipes to end up with my own recipe which I am happy to share with you!

Recipe kanelbullar

Ingredients for 20 kanelbullar

Ingredients for the dough

  • 300 cl milk
  • 50 gram of butter
  • Yeast (37 grams)
  • 800 grams of flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 grams of sugar

Ingredients for the cinnamon paste

  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 50 gram of butter

Ingredients for the finish touch

  • Sugar pearls
  • Egg

Preparation

Baking kanelbullar takes a while. It is not a lot of work, but the dough has to rise a few times which takes time. Begin by heating up the milk and let the butter melt in it. The milk shouldn’t boil! You still have to be able to put your finger in the milk without burning your finger 😉 If you’re a professional and use a thermometer you have to warm it up to 37 C°.

Meanwhile, mix the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Add the warmed milk and knead until you have a smooth batter. Let this rise (covered under a kitchen towel) for 1 hour.

With the rolling pin, roll the dough into a long rectangle. Mix the ingredients for the cinnamon pasta and spread it out on your dough. Then roll the dough until you have a long sausage.

Cut slices of about one and a half centimeter. Press the rolls a little and let it rise for another half an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees and bake the buns for 12-15 minutes.

Recipe kanelbullar

If you want to save some for later, you can put them in the freezer. But mine usually don’t last that long 😉