How to make traditional Swedish blackberry pie

If you have lived in Sweden for a while, you may be aware that Swedes love berry picking. But if you don't want to wait for a Swede to whip up a blackberry pie ('björnbärspaj') for you, food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local.

How to make traditional Swedish blackberry pie
You can make individual or family-size blackberry pies. Photo: Shutterstock

The pastry uses melted butter which gives it a really luxurious taste, almost like Scottish shortbread, and yet it is so easy to make and doesn't even need to be blind baked. The almonds bring out the flavour of the blackberries, but only need to be sprinkled on to the pastry. It really is easy-peasy! 


Serves: 6-8

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Total: 45 minutes



175g (6oz) butter

180g (1 ¼ cup) plain flour

100g (½ cup) caster sugar

½  tsp baking powder

pinch of salt 


50g (2 oz) ground almonds

450g (1 lb) blackberries

90g (½ cup) caster sugar

1 tbsp potato flour on corn flour


3 tbsp red currant jelly (or any other seedless red jam)


1. Melt the butter for the pastry. Leave for a few minutes to cool.

2. Lightly grease a 23cm (9in) pie dish.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 200C (400F, Gas 6, Fan 180C).

4. Mix the plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat in the melted butter until you have an evenly coloured pastry dough.

5. Line the pie dish with the pastry. Just gradually push it out with your fingers as it is too buttery to roll out.

6. Spread the ground almonds over the pastry.

7. Mix the blackberries, caster sugar and potato/corn flour in a bowl and then spoon over the top of the ground almonds.

8. Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Leave to cool for ten minutes or so.

9. Make a glaze by heating the red currant jelly in a saucepan and simmering for two minutes. Glaze the blackberries using a pastry brush.

10. Serve with vanilla sauce or extra cooked blackberries (see below).

11. Put 50g (2 oz) sugar, a star anise and the zest of half a lemon in a saucepan with 100ml (½ cup) water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes until slightly syrupy.  Add 450g (1 lb) blackberries and stir. Leave to cool.

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Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.