No Nomsense: Ikea goes beyond Swedish meatballs

Ikea has published a cookbook that is almost as much about food photography as it is about cooking. Fika, named after the Swedish term for tea-time or coffee break, is a compilation of 30 recipes for desserts and sweets.

For each recipe, one page spread is dedicated to showing the artfully laid out ingredients. Pyramids of flour, squiggles of milk and spoons of sugar are displayed beautifully in mini-motifs. The list of ingredients and their measurements are in a column on the righthand side of the right page in both imperial units and their metric equivalents. The following spread shows the final product and preparation instructions. The book is very crisp and neat. The copyright information is on the last page of the book, rather than the first, to provide a cleaner reading experience.

The checkerboard cookie recipe was less than user-friendly. Credit: Emily Beiser

The recipes in Fika are Swedish, as Ikea is a Swedish company. According to the copyright page, they come from the website and are translated from Swedish. Since the recipes are Swedish, some ingredients are hard to come by, such as baking ammonia, lingonberry jam and gelatin sheets. Baking ammonia is a slightly different sort of leavening from baking powder and it is used to create lighter and thinner cookies. Baking powder can be substituted but will result in a slightly less fluffy cookie. Lingonberry jam is available at Ikea, but can be substituted for another type of jam, and gelatin powder works the same way as gelatin sheets. Even though some recipes call for hard to find ingredients, there are many recipes that don’t require special ingredients, such as Semlor Lenten Buns, Vanilla Boomerangs, Crullers, and Swedish National Day Pastries.

The recipes in Fika are delicious but better for more experienced cooks because the directions can be unclear. In the checkerboard cookies recipe, the first direction is to mix the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and flour. If one were to actually attempt to mix these ingredients all together at once, it wouldn’t work. Most cookie recipes suggest creaming the butter and sugar, adding the vanilla and then mixing in the flour. Therefore, less-experienced cooks may want another opinion when preparing these recipes. The instructions on how to create the checkerboard pattern on the cookie were also unclear, so the test cookies ended up more like edible yin-yangs.

Fika: 125 pgs. IKEA Food Services AB. Available at IKEA in the Food Market. $7.99