How to make Swedish cardamom mufffins

Similar to blueberry muffins, the use of bilberries and cardamom gives these Swedish treats a distinctive flavour which makes them perfect fika material.

How to make Swedish cardamom mufffins
All photos: John Duxbury/


Makes: 9 muffins

Time needed: 45 minutes (15 minutes preparation, 30 minutes cooking time)


75g frozen bilberries (wild blueberries) or frozen blueberries

240g plain (all-purpose) flour

12-15 green cardamom pods (or use 1 teaspoon of ready ground cardamom)

110g  butter, cubed and softened

200g  demerara sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicardbonate of soda (baking soda)

1/2 tsp salt

240ml buttermilk

1 lime, zest and juice

Photo: Swedish Food


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas 5, fan 160°C) and line a muffin tray with 9 muffin cases.

2. Toss the frozen bilberries in a little flour and put them back in the freezer.

3. Lightly crush to cardamom pods to remove the seeds and then grind the seeds as much as possible using a pestle and mortar. You should end up with about 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom.

4. Beat the butter in a food mixer until it is very soft, about the consistency of mayonnaise.

5. Beat in the sugar, then the beaten egg and mix until well combined.

6. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cardamom and the salt in a separate bowl and mix well.

7. Fold half of the flour mixture into the mix and then half the buttermilk, then remaining flour and buttermilk. Finally, fold in the lime juice and zest, but do not overwork. Leave the mixture overnight if possible.

8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, dot with bilberries and sprinkle the remaining cardamom over the top.

9. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and eat when still warm.


– Use frozen berries as it helps to prevent the colour from bleeding too much into the mixture.

– Tossing the berries in a little flour helps to prevent them from sinking.

– Use blueberries if you prefer or if you can’t find frozen bilberries (wild blueberries). Blueberries are a bit sweeter whilst bilberries have a stronger flavour.

Photo: Swedish Food

– If you can, leave the mixture to rest for up to 36 hours, as this enables the flour to hydrate and produce fluffier muffins. It doesn't make a really big difference, but it is worth doing if it is convenient and particularly if you want muffins for breakfast.

– Although most recipes use 2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) produces slightly fluffier muffins because of the presence of buttermilk and lime juice.

– Using buttermilk gives the muffins a slightly sour taste which is better for a muffin, but not so good for a cupake!

– Allow the muffins to cool slightly before serving, but muffins don’t keep very well, so don’t wait too long! (They can be reheated in a microwave: 30 seconds each on a medium setting.)

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, Editor and Founder of Swedish Food

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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.