On October 4, 2019, I ate my first Swedish cinnamon bun at a London location of Fabrique, a Stockholm‑based bakery chain. The bun was beautiful: a browned swirl of soft, fluffy, lightly sweetened bread infused with cardamom, filled with a buttery cinnamon sugar mixture, and sprinkled with white sugar pearls. I remember the date because October 4 is National Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden, and it’s celebrated by Swedes worldwide, so the atmosphere was especially convivial.
But Swedes don’t confine their consumption of cinnamon buns, called kanelbullar, to a single day. They’re a favorite feature of the daily (even twice- or thrice-daily) social ritual known as fika, which consists of coffee and a snack enjoyed with friends, family, or colleagues. To call it a mere coffee break is to ignore the Swedes’ reverence and affection for the concept. As coauthors Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall explain in their book Fika (2015), “To truly fika” (it’s both a noun and a verb) “requires a commitment to making time for a break in your day, the creation of a magical moment in the midst of the routine and the mundane.”
Amen to that. My first fika experience was so enjoyable that I was eager to make my own kanelbullar—and to incorporate the habit into my life.