In Sweden, says Osa Wallander, an important part of the culture is the fika, or the break for coffee that happens throughout the day, often more than just in the morning. And it's not just about the coffee but what you have with it, the pastries and other accouterments that one has with a good cup.
For Wallander, a native of Gothenburg, Sweden, who now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Kris, a good fika has always meant cinnamon rolls. Which is how she got into the business of baking her own kanelbullar, or cinnamon rolls.
Kanel Bakery has been coming to the Pasadena Sunday farmers market for a month now, with organic cinnamon rolls that Wallander bakes using a family recipe from her childhood. Kanel, or kah-neel, means cinnamon in Swedish.
Wallander says she started baking because she missed the Swedish cookies, pastries and candies she grew up with. With encouragement of the friends she baked for — and her mother — Wallander got a home license and started a business out of her Santa Monica apartment, eventually concentrating on the cinnamon rolls her grandmother and father, an excellent baker, had taught her to bake as a child.
Wallander bakes not only traditional cinnamon rolls but also adds custards and fruits to her recipe. Recent variations include blueberries, fresh strawberries, almonds, even mini-cinnamon rolls.
If your experience with cinnamon rolls has been the frosting-intensive pastries the size of hubcaps often found at diners and food courts, these are somewhat more minimalist. Laced with cardamom, Wallander's cinnamon rolls are fragrant and artful, restrained by American standards. Which, of course, allows for eating them throughout the day, along with that cup of coffee.