Here in Sweden, cakes and pastries are a big deal. The culture of Fika, where coffee and usually something to go with it is universal, and ‘having a Fika’ is, for most, a daily occurrence.
The upshot of this is that Sweden is filled with a plethora of really high quality bakeries, from small boutique places (like Park Konditori), to upmarket specialists (like Brioche), to grand old tearooms (like the legendary Vete Katten), to large, functional, affordable local places (like our beloved local, Pallas Konditori). All of them are busy, and most of them are good. (Incidentally, for Londoners who want a piece of the Fika action, I cannot recommend Scandinavian Kitchen enough. They do it all really properly, and it’s just a lovely little place to be.)
Kladdkaka (literally ‘sticky cake’ or ‘mud cake’) is a staple of the Fika table and, between you and me (and don’t say this too loudly near any Swedes) is literally a classic brownie recipe, baked in a round tin. Baked properly, it’s cooked through around the edges, with a crisp top, and a muddy, soft middle. The perfect result will be hard to cut a slice of with a knife, and is almost best spooned out onto plates, along with whipped vanilla cream or ice cream, with a cup of coffee on the side.
This is my version of it, and not strictly authentic, with a couple of extra twists to include more things which I find delicious, and complimentary to the sticky chocolatiness within.
Apart from anything, the sheer easiness of this recipe makes it a kind of go-to pudding when you have people over for dinner. You can make it hours in advance, and it requires little effort or skill beyond keeping an eye on it and taking it out of the oven at the right moment.
You will need:
- 75g Butter
- 150g Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 3½ Tbsp Cocoa Powder (the best you can find. You know the drill.)
- a few drops of Vanilla Extract (I always put in more than I should, but it’s just nice, isn’t it?)
- a pinch of Fine Salt
- 85g Flour
- a handful of Hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- a pinch of Flaky Sea Salt (something like Maldon)
Preheat your oven to 150°C.
Melt the butter in a pan. Whisk together the sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and fine salt til fully combined, then add the butter and mix in. Add the flour, combine, then taste. At this stage, it should already be delicious, with an interesting balance between salt and sweet. If you feel like it could do with a shade more salt, now’s the time. Pour into a cake tin, either a springform, buttered and scattered liberally with fine breadcrumbs, or a regular tin, lined with baking paper. Scatter the chopped hazelnuts evenly over the top and, finally, sprinkle with a small pinch of flaky salt.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking regularly towards the end of the cooking time that it’s just wobbly in the middle and thinly crusted and shiny on top (I have a habit of undercooking it, as I did in this instance, which is not the end of the world, and better than the alternative, but it’s nice to try and do these things properly, isn’t it?).
Leave to cool, and serve at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.
To me, the essence of this version of the Kladdkaka, and what makes it a little special and different is really nailing the balance of salt and sugar. It might seem a little counter-intuitive and strange at first, but the salt really is a welcome foil for the other flavours, and makes the whole experience of eating it that bit more interesting. The hazelnuts serve to provide a crunch, and their own delicious flavour.
Of course, a simple base recipe like this is crying out for additions; walnuts, flaked almonds or pecans would all be very at home here, as would citrus zest, cinnamon or, possibly best of all, a little chilli powder.
Go forth, experiment, and Fika.