Country 042 – Sweden (Fika Cafe)

: 28 Kensington Avenue, Toronto

This is one of those things I saw on Instagram and pretty much instantly had to try. I mean, if you can look at that and tell me that you don’t immediately want to eat it, that’s good for you, but you and me are clearly two very different people.

I guess the obvious choice for Sweden would have been meatballs, but I think the Swedish cream puff is probably a bit more interesting.

It’s called a semla (or semlor in the plural — thanks, Wikipedia), and Fika Cafe’s menu describes it like this: “our take on the swedish classic – cardamom bun, seasonal jam, almond paste topped with honey sweetened whipped cream.”

It’s good (of course it’s good, look at it).  The bun itself is sort of like a doughnut, but with a denser, breadier texture.  The cardamom gives it a distinct, floral pop that stays in the background without overwhelming the other flavours.

It’s not as sweet as you’d expect — the bun isn’t particularly sweet, nor is the cream.  Most of the sweetness comes from the jam (some kind of berry when I went, though I guess it changes).  It’s a bit odd at first, though the more subtle sweetness definitely wins you over after a couple of bites.

My only real complaint is that if there was almond paste in there, I couldn’t taste it.  It’s a shame, because I could definitely see it matching well with the bun’s other flavours.


Country 016 – France (Patisserie 27)

: 401 Jane Street, Toronto

I think I like the idea of a millefeuille better than I actually like a millefeuille.  I mean, custardy cream served between layers of flaky puff pastry?  That should be amazing.  But the texture, inevitably, is off.  The pastry is never quite right — typically, it’s been made way too far in advance, and has completely sogged through.  Sometimes, to compensate, it’s too crunchy.

It’s a pain to eat.  You try to cut or bite through it, and the cream can’t quite hold up to the pastry; it squashes out the sides and makes a classy, refined dessert considerably less so.

When I heard that Patisserie 27 makes their millefeuille to order, I thought, well, that’s it.  They’ve solved it.  How could this not be delicious?

And though it’s probably better than most millefeuilles I’ve had in my life, it’s not quite the millefeuille perfection I was hoping for.  I haven’t been to France and had the real deal there, but I have to assume this is a pale imitation.

The pastry cream was pretty great — it’s not too sweet, with a rich custardy flavour and subtle notes of vanilla.  It was really, really good.

The pastry, on the other hand, couldn’t quite hold up its end of the bargain.  The dessert was made to order, so it wasn’t soggy, which is good.  But it wasn’t quite as light and flaky as you’d like.  The custard-spreading problem was still very much present.

It was also a little bit too assertively flavoured to match well with the more demure pastry cream; it tasted kind of like a pie crust that’s just on the edge of burnt, and completely overwhelmed the other flavours here.

It certainly wasn’t bad.  But I guess if I want the perfect millefeuille I’ll just have to buy a plane ticket (or, less drastically, try other French bakeries in the city).