This time of year, taking a number and waiting isn't so bad, because at the Swedish Bakery - which is truly an Andersonville pioneer - figuring out what you want will take some time. Most Swedish baked goods have a few things in common.
"Cardamom spices, almond, a lot of almond.."
One form almond takes is marzipan, which is used by the ton here.
"Marzipan is a rolled almond paste that's blended with sugar so that it makes it workable to do that," said Kathleen Stanton-Cromwell, owner of The Swedish Bakery.
The multi-colored marzipan is especially prevalent as a shell around layered cakes.
"They're a marzipan torte, or in Sweden, they're known as the Princess Torte, and the reason for that is, goes back to the early 1900s, when an author actually wanted to present something to the Royal Family, and did something for the daughters, and therefore the name Princess torte," she said. "And there's still a debate about the color, but from our upbringing, green is the color of life and that's why green is the more popular color."
Another almond-studded creation is the cookie version of the tosca torte, with a short dough shell, almond cake and some sliced, caramelized almonds on top. One of the mainstays is the Andersonville coffeecake, which begins with a sweet almond paste spread onto dough.. cinnamon sugar is sprinkled everywhere, then it's rolled up into a tube shape, which is connected to form a circle; tossed into a round baking pan, the coffeecake is cut with a scissors, as the cut ends are alternately tossed off to the sides. Once baked, it gives the coffeecake its trademark shape.
Another Swedish classic is as simple as chocolate and rum.
"The damsugara, that is the green rum roll, and that's made up of a fudgy-chocolaty center with rum flavor, then it's enrobed with marzipan dipped in chocolate on the ends, and the name comes from the fact that when they're produced, they're done in a long, tubular form, which reminded them of a vacuum cleaner hose before they cut them."
Cromwell says these old-fashioned treats are one of the reasons their customers have stayed loyal for more than eight decades.
"The flight to the suburban area has brought them back in, looking for the traditional goodies for mom or grandma."
Incidentally, the block that the Swedish Bakery is in has some of the best bakeries in the city. From Pasticceria Natalina for tasty Sicilian baked goods to the venerable "Taste of Heaven," which has some of the best scones in Chicago.
5348 N. Clark St.