After my first foray into Scandinavia in the dead of winter, I was excited to revisit the region during the warmer months. Having never set foot in Stockholm, I asked everyone who had ever had anything remotely to do with the place for advice. Some told me to visit the museums (more on that in the next post); others said I should stroll through the sprawling botanical gardens of Djursholm; the lovely Sarah Dawn Finer, a talented singer and actress sometimes dubbed the “Swedish Adele,” told me in an interview to visit a theatrical landmark and performance space.
Cooling kanelbulle and kardemummabullar at Fabrique.
One piece of advice I kept hearing though was surprisingly straightforward: eat cinnamon buns. I figured I would give them a try, but being generally more inclined to savory than sweet, I didn’t give the matter much thought.
As soon as I bit off a piece of my first one though, I was hooked. Swedes approach bakeries with the same level of perfectionism that has made them so successful in other areas. My standards are high (I come from a long line of home bakers, from my great aunt who mailed us packaged of “beaten biscuits” (a hard, pale specialty of the American South traditionally made with lard) to my grandmother to my mother, who still makes the best pie crust of anyone I know), but even I was impressed. And while dense rye and crusty wheat breads were delicious in their own right, nothing could match the intricately braided, spice-laden kanelbulle (cinnamon buns) and kardemummabullar (cardamon buns).
I didn’t manage to get to every bakery in town, though not for lack of trying. In between some of my other of culinary missions, from tracking down meatballs to learning about 20-course charcuterie tasting menus, I managed to make to these all-stars.
I can't even.
This was the Wall Street Journal’s favorite and certainly a contender for mine. It would be easy to snub Fabrique because of its chain status, but that would be a mistake. The buns here are as buttery as they come, hovering right on the line between pastry and brioche, and more intensely spiced than some of their brethren. Over the course of a week, I stopped by three times at various locations, the nicest of which by far was on Rosenlundsgatan. Not only does this one offer seating and coffee, but also the chance to see (and smell!) the cinnamon buns baking.
Their cardamon-dusted cousins fresh from the oven.
Ubiquitous Scandi style.
They also make these little jam-filled jewels.
Who decided to sell sprinkle-covered chocolate balls in every shop and where were they for my entire childhood?
A little behind-the-scenes bun-baking action.
Simple and utterly perfect buns at Bakery & Spice.
A more Spartan number close to where I was staying in Vasastaden, this take away-only spot serves fluffier kanelbulle studded with almonds. Much as I loved Fabrique’s version, these more understated confections were ones I could see eating on a regular basis. The fact that I snagged several on the way to the airport says something.
Dramatic lighting just makes croissants look sexier.
When the Insta-famous pastry guru who created the royal wedding cake for the Swedish crown princess opens a bakery, everyone takes note. Situated in Teatern, the much-hyped food court populated by outlets from famous chefs, this small stand packs in all of the heavy-hitters of the Scandi baking canon. While I was a bit underwhelmed by the venue (you can dress it up with mod lamps all you like, but it’s still a mall), but the buns were lovely and the staff were nice enough to let this nosy visitor snap a few pictures.
Getting up close and personal.