Over the past few years, the Scandinavians and their peaceful, “at one with nature” culture seems to have significantly grown in popularity in the UK.
Is this due to our desire to emulate our tall, blonde and beautifully built cousin in an attempt to better our lives and to distract us from the current Etonian mess we are in? Or is this simply another gift that we can thank multiculturalism for, where French bread, Italian coffee and Belgian beer are part of the norm?
Whatever the reasons are, the reality is the Scandi way of living is here to stay and stretches beyond flat pack furniture. Say hello to our new favourite protein filled “yoghurt” Skyr, our smoked salmon replacement Gravlax, and the new event of the year kräftskiva, a party that celebrates all things Crayfish, and of course let’s not forget that our lives are becoming ever more hygge, lykke and lagom.
This is where I introduce you to the Nordic Bakery. With four bakeries dotted all over the city, founder Miisa Mink has brought the sweet smell of a traditional Scandi bakery with her to create a little cinnamon bun filled haven, feeding not only the mind but soul of London. We visited the relatively new branch in Neal Street, just off the cobbled streets of Covent Garden.
Stepping into the bakery, the first thing you notice is the relaxed atmosphere, pared back furnishings and the sweet smell of sugar and spice. The irresistibly filled counter towards the back of the shop, backdropped by evergreen tiles, displays freshly baked rye bread, all kinds of smoked fish salad boxes, a variety of open sandwiches with toppings ranging from egg and herring to brie and ligonberry jam, and of course, traditional sweets and savoury bakes, including their infamous cinnamon buns.
Along with our Gravlax and sweet mustard open sandwich and salami and brie rye bread sandwich, we tucked into a delightful little savoury pastry called a Karelian, something which I had never come across before. These beautifully crimped mini pastries are made from a very thin rye crust and are stuffed with either a rice and carrot mix, or as it was in this case, buttery mash potato. These are then topped with a traditional egg butter, simply made from chopped up hard boiled eggs and freshly churned butter.
Naturally being a baker of sweet goods I had to get multiple sweet treats – only for the purposes of this review of course! First we tasted the lingonberry bun, the jam tart’s taller and prettier Scandi cousin. The lingonberry jam was sweet yet tart, and worked well with with the soft and slightly chewy bun, reminiscent of a bagel – a great accompaniment to a strong black coffee.
The second of our treats was of course, the cinnamon bun – we had to save the best until last! Traditionally rolled and cut, these buns were fresh out of the oven and were absolutely delicious, noted by the passers by who watch me devour one in seconds. These buns are made up of layers upon layers of carefully risen dough, sugar, butter and cinnamon, nothing like their sickly sweet mass produced counterparts. Although they had no glaze (I am always partial to a glaze) they still have that sticky quality that you look for in a cinnamon bun and are ever so moreish, so much so that I have already been back for more. I couldn’t praise the Nordic Bakery enough for these glorious creations, and don’t you dare visit without having one!
Thank you to Nordic Bakery for bringing these delights to London and feeding our hearts and souls with Scandi goodness. As lagom would teach us, “enough is as good as a feast”, so forget the frivolities of the French patisseries for a moment and enjoy the simplicities of Scandinavia by taking a trip to the Nordic Bakery.