Monday, August 1, 2011

Awesome Swedish Baked Goods, No Assembly Required (Peter's Yard Coffee House and Bakery)

Cardamom Bun

My knowledge of Sweden is very limited. Off the top of my head, the only things that I think of that are related to Sweden are Ikea, Swedish meatballs, Swedish fish, and Peter Forsberg, and the first two are inextricably linked anyway. So as you can see, I'm not very familiar with Sweden, or any of the other Scandinavian countries for that matter. When I learned of Peter's Yard, a well-regarded Swedish bakery mini-chain that has a location in Edinburgh, the first two questions that popped into my head were 1) what constitutes Swedish baked goods? and 2) would there be any assembly required? I was intrigued enough to pursue this further.

Entering the bakery shortly after it opened, I was immediately greeted by the warm smell of cinnamon swirling in the air. Piles of unfamiliar but most definitely tasty-looking baked goods, ranging from cakes and cookies to assorted breads and buns, were laid out on dishes on the countertop. Proclaimed as one of the bakery's specialties and supposedly a baked good with a cult-like following, the kladdkaka sounded like something I needed to try. Described as a dense, gooey, and sticky chocolate cake, kladdkaka sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, the slice that I got was dry and crumbly, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was left over from the previous day. For something that was essentially a dry, glorified brownie that cost £2.70, I felt ripped off.

Cinnamon Bun

The disappointment from the kladdkaka, though, was remedied by the cinnamon and cardamom buns. I know that Ikea sells cinnamon buns, but the buns baked at Peter's Yard differ substantially from the typical American cinnamon bun. Both the cinnamon and cardamom buns at Peter's Yard consist of a braided mass of soft, slightly sweet dough. The cinnamon bun, topped off with some coarse sugar and almonds, bears no resemblance to the sticky, gooey, and ridiculously sweet (but still delicious) Cinnabons, but it was tasty all the same. I think I actually preferred the cardamom bun, with its slightly fruity flavor making for a more interesting-tasting bun. However, both the cinnamon and cardamom buns were fresh and made for a satisfying breakfast without the hyperglycemia-inducing sugar rush of a Cinnabon.

My first exposure to Swedish baked goods was a pleasant experience. I am definitely interested in trying out some of the other interesting breads and pastries I saw in the bakery, but I can't recall ever seeing a Swedish (or Scandinavian, for that matter) bakery in NYC, though perhaps that's because I haven't looked hard enough. Although I still know virtually nothing about Sweden, at least I will now think of something other than do-it-yourself furniture stores, chewy candies, and brittle hall-of-fame hockey players when I'm talking about Sweden.

Peter's Yard Coffee House and Bakery
Quartermile, 27 Simpson Loan
Edinbugh EH3 9GG
United Kingdom

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