Anybody who knows me will know that Fridays are my favourite day of the week. I love Fridays. Not because the weekend begins or even that I only work for 2 hours, but because Friday is cake day or as they say in Sweden, Fika Friday.
Friday has always been pretty good for me. In almost 10 years of teaching I have managed to get pretty decent Fridays. For example at Campion when I had a double free after lunch, at BIS when I didn’t start until period 4 and now at IESE where I finish at 10.25 and am allowed to leave straight away! Even with the luck of the Friday timetable I’m not going to deny the fact that the thought of Friday cake is what keeps me going through the week. At BIS I would avidly watch the clock up until 10.05 knowing that once I got to the staff room there would be a plethora of gooey, chocolatey goodness waiting for me. As soon as the bell rang I’d run down the corridor knocking small children flying in my rush for cake. Actually it got to the point where my class before break knew that this was the case and made sure that I had a clear run from classroom to staff room!
Most schools that I have worked in have had some kind of a cake system. At Campion it was a case of people bringing in cookies or cake whenever they felt like morale could do with an impromptu boost and there was often something waiting on the table in the staff room where the English department generally gathered. BIS had a cake rota which was emailed out alongside the lunch-time duty rota and meeting schedule, and it was taken very seriously. Each cake team had 4 members with an appointed leader to organise; the quality/quantity of the cakes was closely scrutinised by a team of cake experts (me and Rachael but it amounts to the same thing). Teams would be judged harshly for any errors – like the team that forgot one week, the stingy team that cut the cookies into quarters, or the team that provided SEAWEED CRACKERS as a ‘nice change’ (DON’T get me started!!).
Sometimes a team would go to some effort to provide homemade goodies (not that easy in Vietnam as very few people had an oven) but generally Harvest Baking was commissioned to do the honours with their delicious New York cheesecake with gingersnap crust, chocolate fudge cake or chocolate brownies. Friday Cake Break was the only break time when every member of staff came down to the staff room and it was always a great end to the week.
Sweden is so serious about cake that they have invented the notion of fika, which means something along the lines of taking a coffee break, often accompanied by cake. The word can be a noun ‘why don’t we meet for fika?’ or a verb ‘let’s fika‘. Perhaps the most common sight at a Swedish fika is kanelbullar, a sticky cinnamon pastry that is very popular over here, sometimes you might get a saffron variant. Amongst my favourite cakes in Sweden is kladdkaka, a sticky chocolate cake somewhat similar to a brownie. The name translates as “moist” or “sticky” cake and it can sometimes be so sticky that it’s like eating cake dough. Not for the feint hearted.
Another awesome Swedish cake is Princesstårta (Princess Cake). Imagine asking a 6 year old girl to invent a cake and Princesstårta is what she’d come up with. A layer of sponge, vanilla custard, strawberry jam, and another layer of sponge. A thick wad of cream topped with a covering of green marzipan and decorated with a pink marzipan rose. Princesstårta can be decorated to fir the occassion by simpy changing the colour of the marzipan, white for a wedding or orange for Halloween. Simply delicious!
So much for the diet 🙂