birthday bonanza

I have had a bit of a break over the past few weeks. Partly because I’ve felt a bit bored and demotivated with cooking for just myself, partly because I’ve had some things going on around me, and partly because I just haven’t felt like writing. I guess with a steady readership of two (you know who you are!) I can take that luxury without upsetting people.

But now I’m back and so with a bang. I have written up a new meal plan for the coming two weeks (and the plan is to keep deciding what to eat two weeks at a time) with five new recipes in it so far and I technically have five recipes for you in this post. That’s right, five. And one of them has three variations to it.

The company I work for offers each employee a complete health check once every three years. Because it’s my first year with the company, I was offered one this year. They did a blood test which checked all your blood levels, iron, glucose, the health of your liver, etc. etc. and then there was a follow-up with a doctor where you got to check your weight, BMI, muscle and fat (percentage), lung capacity and ‘age’, eye sight, hearing, EKG and more. It was really interesting and I was happy with most of my results. The doctor said I was very healthy and I had a higher muscle mass percentage than the average woman (who apparently lies within a range of 24-30%) but I would like to improve my fat mass. And that brings me back to food – so now I’m going to renew my efforts of making good, and preferably healthy, meals as well as trying to keep myself accountable through keeping track of what I eat. I might, however, try not to make 2-4 portions rather than 4-8 so that I don’t grow bored of what I’m eating – especially if it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would.

But before we get to all that we need to look back at what was my birthday dinner party a little over a week ago. S and I had invited my oldest friend and her boyfriend over for dinner and they are such foodies. I was terrified lol! Definitely had some major performance anxiety going on.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to make a main in the slow cooker, because it saves time and space. I also knew I wanted something warming and wintery, and preferably a slow-cooked piece of meat, and as I was googling ‘slow cooker dinner party recipes’ something popped into my mind: beef/ox cheeks. I found a recipe for slow cooker beef cheeks in red wine and decided to pair it with a garlic mash potato recipe I had seen before but never tried.  Dessert was already decided – I definitely knew I wanted to make something with Nigella Lawson’s salted caramel sauce and I decided that something was going to be scooping the sauce into the middle of a chocolate fondant and hope for the best. (Not really though – I did two practice runs beforehand.)

Then there was only the starter left. I had looked at maybe making some pick and mix bruschetta style bites, but then S came and said why don’t we make gravlax? We decided on doing three versions; traditional dill, the beetroot and gin one from Christmas, and a citrus one he found online.  Both the starter and the dessert also worked in well with my ‘do-as-little-as-possible- while-they’re-here’ approach, since the salmon needed to be cured for three days and would be ready to slice upon their arrival, and the chocolate fondants could be made and kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking. All I would really need to do once they were here was slice some salmon and bread, make mash potatoes, and put the fondants in the oven.

So from the top down, here are the recipes (including the beetroot gravlax – slightly modified). Unfortunately for the blog I didn’t take any pictures since it was a party after all, so you’ll have to make do with pictures of the leftovers in the case of the starter and main and the trial run for the dessert!


Traditional gravlax

350g fresh salmon

50 ml salt

50 ml sugar

50 ml chopped dill

a splash of water

Beetroot and gin

350g fresh salmon

50 ml salt

50 ml sugar

3 tbsp gin

1 medium beetroot

Citrus fruits

350g fresh salmon

50 ml salt

50 ml sugar

1 orange (zest only)

1 lemon (zest only)

1 lime (zest only)

a splash of water


Place the salmon in a plastic bag.

Mix salt and sugar and rub onto the fish.

Sprinkle a few drops of water (or gin in the beetroot and gin version) over the mix, then add the condiments for your chosen version (i.e. dill or beetroot or the citrus zest mix).

Put the fish in a plate or tray of some sort, skin-side up, and leave in the fridge for three days, turning once a day.


Slow cooked ox cheeks in red wine (6 servings)

3 tbsp olive oil

1.2kg beef/ox cheeks

1 onion

1 carrot

4 garlic cloves

1.5 tsp dried thyme

4 dried bay leaves

1 cup beef stock

1 bottle (750 ml) red wine

3 tsp salt

black pepper

carrots

mushrooms

pearl onions


If necessary, cut off any large bits of fatty membrane. Season the cheeks with 1 tsp salt and some pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan and sear the cheeks. (I don’t usually sear my meat for the slow cooker, but this time I did, since it was a ‘fancier’ recipe.) Set aside on a plate and cover with foil.

Turn down the heat and add 1 tbsp oil. Sauté the onions, carrots and minced garlic for about 3 minutes, or until the onion has become translucent.

Add the onion mix to the slow cooker and place the meat on top.

Return the pan to the heat and pour in 500 ml wine. Leave to simmer for a minute, then pour into the slow cooker, including all the brown bits stuck to the bottom.

Add stock, thyme, bay leaves, 2 tsp salt, and some black pepper to the slow cooker, then cook for 6-8 hours.

When the cooking is finished, remove the cheeks from the slow cooker and discard the bay leaves.

Blend the sauce with a handheld mixer until smooth and add the remaining wine. Pour it all into a saucepan and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it has reduced enough for your liking. You can also add some cornstarch mixed with water as a thickening agent if you would like to.

At this stage, as I knew I was returning the meat and sauce to the slow cooker to keep warm, I also added some mushrooms, carrots and pearl onions.

You can also make this as a non-slow cooker recipe and the instructions for that can be found in the original recipe.


Garlic mashed potatoes (4-6 servings)

800g potatoes

250 ml cream

3 garlic cloves

85g parmesan


Cook the potatoes until soft.

Mince the garlic and add to a saucepan with just a touch of butter. Brown for a few seconds, then add cream and bring to simmer. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes then mash them and add the garlic cream and the parmesan, stirring to combine.

Season with salt and white pepper to taste.


Salted caramel sauce (6 servings)

50g butter

50g white sugar

50g brown sugar

50g syrup

125 ml cream

1 tsp sea salt


Melt butter, sugars and syrup in a heavy-based pan. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Add cream and salt and stir to mix. Remove from heat and leave to cool.


Chocolate fondant (4-6 servings)

100g dark chocolate (I used half 55% and half 70%)

100g butter

100g sugar

100g flour

2 eggs and 2 egg yolks

butter

cocoa powder


Brush your moulds with melted butter and place in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, repeat, then dust with cocoa powder. Set aside.

Divide chocolate and butter into small pieces and place in a water bath (a bowl on top of a simmering pot of water – but not touching the water). Stir until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

Whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar to a thick, fluffy, white-ish mix. Fold in the flour, then the melted chocolate – one third at the time.

Pour the batter into the moulds.

If you do not want to make caramel filled ones, fill to about three quarters. Leave in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before baking.

If you do want to make caramel filled ones, fill to just under half, then place something in the middle to make a hole. I used egg cups wrapped in cling film, which was a bit sticky. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove your objects and fill the hole with caramel sauce. Cover with more fondant mix (which has been kept outside the fridge) and make sure it goes all the way to the edge, not just covering the top. Leave to cool for another 10 minutes – at least.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.


Notes:

The citrus salmon was quite sweet. I think halving the orange zest and upping the lemon and lime zest would be better.

Also, last time I made gravlax I used the 1:0.5 ratio where you have half the amount of salt to sugar. I thought that was too sweet, so this time I did 1:1.

I cooked my ox cheeks for 6 hours on low, because I knew they would be keeping warm, and as such ‘after-cooking’, for another 2 hours. If you’re going to eat yours at once, you might want to cook them for 7-8 hours instead.

For the mash, make sure the cream is really heated or the mash will get cold. I would also recommend seasoning it with salt and pepper.

For my dessert I made two batches of salted caramel sauce – one that I made the day before and left in the fridge overnight to solidify a bit and one that I made just before our guests came and left out in a sauce jug to cool. If you’re using the sauce as an actual sauce (i.e. not as a filling) I would recommend not putting it in the fridge, as I felt that it went too solid to pour properly then.


Definitely a good birthday dinner.

/t

swedish scones

If you actually read this blog you’ll know I made English scones for the first time in August when we had a birthday afternoon tea fika for my mum. I was pleased with how they turned out, and though I like English scones sometimes there’s just that craving for a Swedish one. Swedish scones are nowhere near as dense as English scones, and they’re usually (at least among my family and friends) made as a bigger but flatter round shape which is scored with a cross in the middle – creating four tear-apart triangles when baked.

The Swedish scones also, for some reason, feel a lot easier to make – but I guess maybe that’s just because I’ve grown up with making them? In any case there’s only four ingredients and whipping them up takes almost no time. You just need to have the patience to wait for them while they’re in the oven – and even that is only about 10 minutes!

On Monday last week I had no food at home and really didn’t feel like cooking something for that night. I was tired after a week of bad sleep because of my pulled muscle (it’s getting much better by the way) and having gone to bed at 2:30 am after coming home from London and landing a bit after midnight. I had planned to throw something into the slow cooker to make food for the remainder of the week, but I didn’t feel any inspiration or want for dinner that night. But then when I was browsing recipes online I saw a post for scones and the craving hit me like walking into a brick wall. It was all I felt like then.

So I went to the supermarket and got my beef stew ingredients, whipped up the scones, whacked them in the oven, chopped up all my stew ingredients and threw them in the slow cooker, and then sat down in front of the tv to enjoy my still slightly warm scones with jam, cheese, and a cup of tea. It was heaven.

Now the recipes for scones usually say that the quantities below make for 4 servings. As I’ve shown they can clearly also make for one. I have to say that I don’t agree with the four though, unless you have a lot of other things that you’re serving too, because they make rather small triangles. Instead I’ve opted to say it makes 2 servings. If you want to make more (I didn’t becasue I knew I would eat them all) you can easily double or tripple the recipe.


Ingredients (2 servings)

100 ml flour

1 tsp baking powder

25g butter

100 ml milk

a pinch of salt


Mix together baking powder, salt and flour.

Add butter and ‘crumble’ until it’s a fine mixture without big lumps.

Add milk and stir together to a slightly sticky dough.

Press the dough out into a round shape. The bigger the round, the thinner the scones (obviously).

Score with a cross through the middle and bake at 250 degrees Celsius for 8-12 minutes (depending on how thick).

Enjoy with jam, cheese, butter, or whatever else tickles your fancy!


The texture of these really is so much fluffier, and even if you decide you don’t like them you should at least try them once.

/t

chokladbollar – an old post

I found one of my old cooking blogs I started while I was at uni on Blogger a few weeks ago. It was quite fun to read my old posts, though there weren’t many of them, and remember when I wrote them.

I had planned on sharing my first slow cooker recipe with you this week, but the week just ran away with me and I’m going snowboarding over the weekend, which means I won’t have time to write anything then. So I thought that I’d share one of my blog posts written in 2012 (for fun). It’s a quite brief post but it’s still better than just an apologetic post saying sorry I won’t post – right?

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Chokladbollar is Swedish for chocolate balls (yeah, I know, super tricky translation there!). Now don’t be fooled into thinking they’re like those healthy protein and date balls people seem to be making all over the internet though! These are proper sweet treats.

Chocolate balls are a staple in most Swedish homes, cafés and even supermarket bakeries, and are so easy to make. A favourite with children around the country – particularly as they’re easy even for little hands! The staple ingredients are oats, cocoa powder, and sugar. If you don’t want them as chocolatey you can opt for their cousin havrebollar (oat balls) which are made with Nesquick-style chocolate drink powder (O’Boy) rather than cocoa powder – and a lot of the time they leave out the coffee.

Anyway, the reason these balls of deliciousness are so easy to make is that there’s no baking involved. So even the least accomplished baker can have a go. The only thing that needs adult supervision (if your kids are involved) is melting the butter.

Now if you’re not Swedish (or Scandinavian) there are a few things here that may throw you off a bit.

First; my recipe measures solids in ml. Sugar, flour, oats, etc. etc. is measured in Sweden in decilitres, and one decilitre is 100 ml. So when it says ‘100 ml sugar’ that means take out the measuring cup and measure up 100 ml as if it was a liquid.

Second; vanilla sugar. In Sweden, we don’t really use vanilla essence. We have vanilla flavoured powdered sugar instead. If you want to make your own you just put one vanilla pod (seeded and cut in half) in 200 ml granulated sugar and leave until the pod has dried out. Once this has happened, run all the sugar through a food mixer until it’s a fine powder and sieve it to get rid of any leftover pieces of pod. If you can’t get hold of vanilla sugar and can’t be bothered to make your own – vanilla essence will do just fine, just put in a bit less.

Third; pearl sugar. Unfortunately this isn’t really something you can make yourself (a far a I’m aware). As you can see from the picture below, pearl sugar is larger pieces of sugar that the chocolate balls are rolled in after they’re made. If you can’t get hold of pearl sugar you can roll your balls in coconut flakes or even sprinkles.

So, onto how to make them!


Ingredients:

100g butter

100 ml sugar

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

3 tbsp cocoa powder

300 ml oats

3 tbsp cold coffee

pearl sugar (or coconut flakes or sprinkles)


 

Melt the butter in a pan and leave it to almost simmer for a little while.

Meanwhile, mix the oats, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla sugar in a bowl. Pour over the melted butter and cold coffee.

Now I like my chocolate balls a bit ‘grainy’, so I like it when they have large oats. However, if you don’t, you can combine the mixture with an electric whisk. Otherwise a normal spoon will do. Once all is combined, put the bowl in the fridge.

When your mixtures has cooled and solidified, take it out of the fridge and roll into balls. I like them a little bit smaller (then you can have two if you want!), so I used about 2/3 of a tablespoon to roll one ball. Then when it’s round enough for you – roll it in pearl sugar /coconut flakes/sprinkles and you’re done! Easy as that.

They really are a super easy treat that anyone can make. And they’re so adaptable. If you don’t like coffe – take it out. If you love coffee – add more. You can add cinnamon for a more Christmassy feel, or a splash of alcohol for an even more grown up treat. Your imagination is the limit.

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It really is a very easy and child-friendly recipe and I remember making these with my mum when I was little. They’re so good as well, and if you make them a bit smaller you can have more of them, haha!

/t

lussebullar

Today is Lucia, which is an old Swedish tradition. Surprisingly, it’s technically the celebration of an Italian saint, but in true Swedish fashion we’ve thrown in some pagan associations too. You don’t need to look far to find pagan celebrations in Sweden – just look at Valborg (Walpurgis Night), Midsummer, and even Easter and Christmas. (On the Thursday before Good Friday children in Sweden dress up as Easter witches and go knocking on doors to get sweets, and Christmas is commonly said to be celebrated at the end of December because we already had pagan celebrations then that the Christians wanted to replace.)

Anyway, back to today. Lucia is a Catholic saint from Sicily who lived during the late 200’s, and the story is that she was persecuted for being a devout Christian. As a young girl she had taken a chastity vow, but her mother – not knowing about the vow – arranged for her to be married because she herself was sick. When Lucia found out, her and her mother travelled to St Agatha’s shrine to pray for a cure. The mother was cured and agreed that Lucia would not have to be married, but her intended husband was not please by these news, and so he reported her to the Governor of Syracuse who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor’s image. Lucia refused and was then ordered to be defiled in a brothel, but when they came to pick her up they could not move her. Eventually she was killed with a sword.

St Lucia’s day became 13th December, which before the calendar reformation coincided with the Winter Solstice. The Swedish Lucia tradition is therefore thought to stem from that. There are Swedish versions of the legend saying that St Lucia would bring food to prisoners, and that to be able to carry as much as possible she would put the candles on her head, but reference to this is not commonly made in the English articles about her. What is more likely is that we put Lucia onto our pagan tradition to be able to ‘Christianise’ it. According to folklore, 13th December was a dangerous night on which many supernatural beings moving about, and it was thought that animals could talk on that night. Because it was a dangerous night, people should try not to go to sleep, and some would walk the towns with torches to bring light on this darkest night.
13th December was also the day on which all the Christmas celebrations should be finished, and when the Christmas pig should be slaughtered. People would therefore often have a small feast, and some even called it ‘mini-Christmas’.

And there you have it. This mix of pagan tradition and a Sicilian saint has brought us today’s Lucia celebrations, where a girl with a crown of candles leads a procession of boys and girls in white gowns, singing Lucia songs and handing out gingerbread and lussebullar (saffron buns) to people – which neatly brings us onto the recipe of the day.

Lussebullar, or lussekatter, are a Swedish Christmas food strongly associated with Lucia. ‘Att lussa’ is the verb used in Swedish for describing partaking in a Lucia train, so lussebulle technically means ‘Lucia bun’ and lussekatt means ‘Lucia cat’. Apparently the latter is because the lussebulle came about in Germany, where the devil, in the form of a cat, beat children while Jesus, in the form of a child, gave out buns to children who were good. To keep the devil away the buns were coloured with saffron – since the devil had an aversion to light. You learn something new every day!

Either way, lussebullar are one of my favourite things, and I always get that giddy feeling when they start selling them in the shops. But what’s great about them is that they’re actually not very difficult to make, you just need some patience, and they usually turn out so much greater than the store-bought ones.


Ingredients
50g fresh yeast

100g butter

500 ml milk

250g quark

1g saffron

150 ml sugar

0.5 tsp salt

ca 1.7 l flour

raisins

1 egg / some milk

First I want to emphasise again how much I prefer fresh years to dry. I know everyone can’t get their hands on fresh yeast, but if you can it’ll so be worth it.

Start by crumbling your yeast in a big bowl.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the milk. Heat to max 37 degrees Celcius. The easiest way to know that it’s right (if you don’t have a thermometer) is to do the finger test. Just dip your finger in there and if you basically can’t feel the liquid (i.e. it’s neither hot nor cold) it’s good to go. Make sure your finger doesn’t just graze the top though – the bottom could be hotter which would kill the yeast.

Pour the liquid over the yeast little by little until it dissolves. Add saffron, sugar, and quark and dissolve. Then add almost all of the flour, tip the dough out of the bowl and knead until smooth.

Leave to rise for at least 30 minutes.

Once the dough has almost doubled in size, tip it out onto a floured surface and cut into smaller pieces. I usually do this by halving the dough and then halving each bit as I go, which I believe gave me 36 buns.

To make the buns, take one piece and roll it out into a long, thin(ish) strand. Then grab the ends and roll them up opposite ways until it resembles and S. If you want to (I don’t like raisins) garnish by putting one raisin at each end of the S.

Leave to rise for another 30 minutes.

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Again, this step is up to you. You can either glaze the buns with a beaten egg before baking, or do what I do and brush them with some milk after. I prefer the milk after, because it gives the buns a soft exterior, but others prefer the top to be more bread-like.

Either way, bake the buns for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size) at 225 degrees Celcius, then why not enjoy them while they’re hot with some glögg or julmust.

pick ‘n’ mix

If you’ve ever been to a Swedish supermarket you will have noticed something: there’s always a huge selection of pick ‘n’ mix – often taking up a whole wall on its own. It’s in all supermarkets and almost all corner-shops. Swedish people love their pick ‘n’ mix. We eat on average 16 kg per person per year, or 1.2 kg per week for a family of four. The European average is 7 kg per year – meaning we eat almost 10 kg more than the average European!

Pick ‘n’ mix was introduced in Sweden in the 1980’s, and since then we’ve doubled our consumption. Before then sweets were sold from behind the till, so you had to point and ask the shop assistant to pick the pieces you wanted and put them in a bag for you. Obviously I wasn’t alive at that time, but when I was little it worked the same way at my riding school.

When I moved to the UK I was shocked at the poor quality, low availability, and high price of pick ‘n’ mix. I knew people abroad don’t really do salty liquorice, but I didn’t know they don’t really do pick ‘n’ mix. So when I went back to Sweden I would always end up buying lots of pick ‘n’ mix to satisfy my cravings after not having had it for months.

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Now everyone has their take on pick ‘n’ mix. I love salty liquorice, but am not too keen on chocolate. So my mix will often look like the one above. Sweet jelly sweets, salty liquorice sweets, and some sour ones. I want a mix of sweet, sour and salty. You need that variation to enjoy it to the max!

However, not everyone is a fan of my mix. S goes mad every time I put salty sweets (which in a way is kind of an oxymoron) in the pick ‘n’ mix bag, because he says it makes all of it salty. So we have to use different bags and different bowls so that I don’t contaminate his sweets, haha.

I really am a sweets and sugar person (not that keen on fatty things) and like my mum says “sweets are never not nice”.

kanelbullar

They say home is where the heart is. But what if your heart – or rather, the person holding your heart – is in the wrong place?

It’s been almost seven months now and I don’t miss living in London. I miss London, but not living there. It’s a great city to be a tourist in – the culture, food, shopping, and sheer size of it – and a great city to live in while you’re young. But I was getting to the point where it was no longer the city I wanted to live in, a point where I needed to break free from the bustle. I love coming back to visit family and friends, the fact that I still feel like a local when I’m there. I love the bustle of London when I’m a tourist and know that it’s no longer my day-to-day life, my daily commute. I will always love London and London will always be a part of me, but I was born and raised in Sweden, and Stockholm is a larger part of me.

After what has essentially been eight years living abroad, Stockholm was calling me home. I’m one of those people who genuinely love my hometown – whether that makes me naïve or patriotic I don’t really know and don’t really care. I love walking around the city centre and still being surrounded by water everywhere. I love how you are always close to nature. And after three years on the Jubilee line I even see the Stockholm underground in a different light (though it does run much less frequently).

I walk around my city now, feeling the chill that comes with autumn – you know the one that gently bites your cheeks and makes them all rosy – and hearing the crunch of my steps as I walk through the fallen leaves, and I feel excited. These butterflies and this warmth in my chest is something that only Swedish autumn can bring. The beauty of the colourful leaves, the chill’s promise of snow, and the thought of knitted socks, big scarves, thick jackets, and cinnamon buns and hot chocolate – which will eventually be replaced by saffron buns, gingerbread, and mulled wine. All Saints’ Day at Skogskyrkogården, Lucia, Advent, and Christmas. (And then a few grey and miserable months before the budding blooms and an explosion of flowers in spring.)

Physically I feel better in Stockholm. I’m working less overtime, I’m going to the gym more often (having 46 branches instead of three certainly helps, and so does being able to leave the office at 5-5.30pm!), I eat better, and I stress less.

But (and it’s a big but) I’m not as happy as I know I could be, and the reason is of course that S is still in London. These past few weeks he’s been coming over almost every weekend, which has made the weeks easier to get through (and made them feel like they passed a lot quicker), but it’s also made it more difficult because it makes it even more noticeable that he’s not here during the weekdays (and let’s not even talk about the weekends where he then hasn’t been here). It’s like a double-edged sword – I get to see him a lot, but I feel even lonelier when he’s not here because I get to see him a lot. (I would obviously always choose that option over the other one though!)

So this is why I’ve been feeling down recently. I’ve lost some of my motivation to do things and felt slightly caught in a rut. I’ve been eating a lot more pick and mix than I should, and cinnamon buns too, but at least I’ve still been good with making my own lunch. That’s really more of a money question than a motivation question though. But I haven’t had the energy to write down the recipes and take pictures – it’s also getting more difficult to get ok pictures since it’s getting so dark out! – or make smoothies in the morning. I’ve still gone to the gym every week though – if only twice instead of four times, and I’m happy I’m still keeping that up somewhat. Last week and the week before I went three times, and this week I’m scheduled in for four. So at least I’m not letting my lack of motivation and feeling sorry for myself become an excuse for quitting the gym again – which I did in London. I did work much longer hours there though, and I wasn’t tied up for a year, so it was much tougher to work up the energy to go when you come home at 8-9pm and haven’t had dinner.

Anyway, I thought I’d pull myself out of my blogging dry-spell with my cinnamon buns I made a week and a half ago, and then I have a really nice pork and cider stew I made this weekend (if I can get some good pictures). I also have a tomato and roasted red pepper soup I made two weeks ago, and a pasta. So keep checking in – I promise I won’t abandon you just yet.


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Ingredients (36-40 buns)

150g butter

500 ml milk

50g (1 pack) fresh yeast

100 ml sugar

0.2 tsp salt

(2 tsp cardamom)

approx. 800g flour

1 egg

150g butter

100 ml sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon

pearl sugar


First things first: Swedish cinnamon buns have cardamom in the dough. S doesn’t like cardamom, so I make mine without.

Second, I always use fresh yeast when I bake. I can’t stand dry yeast. If you don’t know where to get fresh yeast (in London you can get it at Scandinavian Kitchen which is about 5-10 minutes from Oxford Circus) you can use dry yeast, but I don’t think the dough turns out as nice.

Ok, on to the good stuff!

First, crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan, then add the milk. Leave on the heat until it reaches 37 degrees Celsius. The easiest way to judge this if you don’t have a thermometer is to put your finger in it. If it feels neither hot nor cold then it should be good to go.

(While you cut the butter, leave 150g to soften in a bowl at room temperature.)

Pour some of the liquid over the yeast and dissolve. Add the rest of the liquid and then the sugar, salt, and cardamom. Stir until the sugar dissolves somewhat.

Measure out the flour and add slowly to the liquid, while stirring with a wooden spoon. Once all the flour is added, work the dough for at least ten minutes, until it’s smooth (five if you’re using a machine). Cover the dough and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

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The risen dough

In the meantime, take the other 150g of butter, add 100 ml sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon and cream together until completely mixed.

Once 30 minutes have passed, tip out the dough on a floured surface. Cut into two equally sized pieces and set one aside. Roll the first piece out into a rectangle, about 0.5 cm thick. Take half of the spread and use a butter knife to spread over the dough. It is important that the butter is really soft here, or the dough will break. Roll up the dough on the long end, and cut into 1-2 cm thick slices (depending on how large you want your buns). Place on a baking tray in a cinnamon bun case (like a large cupcake case with lower sides) – if you don’t have cases you can also place them on a baking sheet.

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Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.

Cover the buns and leave them to rise for another 40 minutes.

Brush the buns with a beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. (Again, this is available at ScandiKitchen.)

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Bake for around 10 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius (slightly longer if they’re huge).


Enjoy!

/t

chokladsnittar that turned into rounds

These are really chocolatey biscuits, the kind you need a glass of milk or a cup of tea to enjoy, because they’re almost too rich on their own.

Because I had a bit of 70% dark chocolate left after dipping my Strassburgers, I added some to this dough. Thinking about it, that’s probably why it wouldn’t roll out and I had to make them rounds instead! Duh, haha.

No matter how they looked they got that lovely dark and rich chocolate flavour I was looking for.

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Ingredients

200g butter

250 ml sugar

500 ml flour

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

pearl sugar


Cream butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients (save the pearl sugar which is for decorating) and combine to a dough.

If you want the traditional parallelogram shape, roll out into four to six rectangular shapes and place on a baking sheet on a tray. If you want my rounds, make little balls and push down gently to flatten a little.

Top with pearl sugar.

Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 10-12 minutes.


If you can’t get your hands on pearl sugar, they would probably look just as nice dusted with some icing sugar instead.

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