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
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
50g fresh yeast
500 ml milk
150 ml sugar
0.5 tsp salt
ca 1.7 l flour
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.
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.
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.
Ingredients (36-40 buns)
500 ml milk
50g (1 pack) fresh yeast
100 ml sugar
0.2 tsp salt
(2 tsp cardamom)
approx. 800g flour
100 ml sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
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.
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.
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.)
Bake for around 10 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius (slightly longer if they’re huge).
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.
250 ml sugar
500 ml flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla 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.
So as you read in my cinnamon biscuits post yesterday, these didn’t turn out like they were supposed to. And they didn’t survive the trip to London. But hey – at least they tasted great!
Next time I guess I’ll make sure that the butter is even softer than it was this time. And there has to be a next time, because now I’ve realised how easy it is to make that dough I’m going to try and make one of my favourite biscuits that I always used to share with my mum when I was little. It’s made using a Viennese dough and splitting it into two – keeping one natural and flavouring the other with cocoa powder. One vanilla strand and one chocolate strand are then piped next to each other so that they attach when they bake. You then sandwich together two of these combined biscuits using melted chocolate – making sure that the vanilla and chocolate are on opposite sides on the top and bottom, so that if you split it in half where it’s attached when baking, you have one of each. I know that if I brought that home to my mum she’d be so impressed!
50 ml icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
125 ml flour
100 ml potato flour or corn starch
Take the butter out of the fridge a while before you want to make these, so that it’s really, really soft.
Cream butter, icing sugar and vanilla sugar to an even dough.
Add flour and potato flour and whisk – preferably with an electric whisk. Then use a piping bag to pipe your preferred shape.
Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes.
While your biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Dip the biscuits and place on a baking sheet overnight to set.
If you wanted to decorate the biscuits with jag, you would instead make a dent in your biscuit and put a small bit of firm jam in it before you bake them.
I might have already mentioned this, but when I lived in London (and before I got promoted) I would bake something for my office almost as often as every other week. I loved doing it, and when there are only five of you it’s much easier. It’s also very appreciated and a sure way to get compliments – even if your baking doesn’t always deserve that much praise!
So when I was finally going to get to see my old colleagues in London the other weekend I wasn’t going to turn up empty-handed. I thought about what I wanted to bring them, and thought that biscuits would be what travelled best. I was tempted by cinnamon buns, especially since cinnamon bun day wasn’t too far away, but decided that they would probably get completely smashed in the suitcase and that biscuits were a safer option.
Now I couldn’t just make one kind of biscuits – as we know from my previous biscuit posts which explain the Swedish tradition of seven types of biscuits – but, though I would have loved to have been able to bring my friends seven kinds of biscuits, seven felt a bit much. So I settled on three.
Then came the issue of what do I make? The first thing that popped into mind was chokladsnittar, a lovely, crisp, chocolate biscuit topped with pärlsocker (pearl sugar). I also knew I wanted to make something with cinnamon, where I didn’t want the chokladsnittar and the cinnamon biscuits to be too similar I set to Googling and found a recipe for what turned out to be fantastic cinnamon biscuits. Really.
Lastly I was considering making the hallongrottor. I’ve made them for work before and know that they like them, but then I changed my mind. S and I had just watched the Great British Bake Off biscuit episode (I make him download them for me and we watch them together when he’s here on the weekends) and they’d made Viennese whirls. I’ve never made biscuits with that type of dough, so it made me curious to try. However, I didn’t think that two biscuits sandwiched together and filled with jam and icing would last the flight – so instead I made another type of piped biscuit I remember from when I was little; a Strassburgare. It’s made using the same dough as a Viennese, but often dipped in chocolate, or maybe with a small filling of jam – like the hallongrotton. I chose the chocolate.
Now the cinnamon and chocolate biscuits made it over to London without a glitch, but I hadn’t quite accounted for the Strassburgare’s brittle texture. When I opened my bag that evening half of them had disintegrated into crumbs. They still tasted nice, but it was quite a disappointment not to be able to present the sweet little biscuits the way they looked the night before.
Though this post is technically about all of the biscuits, I’ll only post the recipe for the cinnamon ones here. The other two will come later in the days to follow (and in shorter posts).
Ingredients (ca 30 biscuits depending on size)
125 g soft butter
250 ml brown sugar
50 ml syrup
500 ml flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 pinch salt
white sugar (for rolling)
Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the syrup and the egg.
Combine the dry ingredients and add to the butter mix. Cover with cling-film and leave in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.
Make little balls of the dough and roll in the white sugar.
Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 12-15 minutes.
The cinnamon biscuits went without a glitch, and I think (since I’ve never made them before) they turned out just like they should. The chocolate and Strassburgare though – not so much.
First I had a mishap with my dough for the chocolate biscuits. I don’t know if the butter was too hot or whatever, but it wouldn’t roll out. Technically it’s supposed to be baked in two or three ‘rectangles’ and then diagonally cut just as they come out of the oven to create little parallelogram shapes. But mine just wouldn’t cooperate, so I rolled them into little balls which I flattened slightly with my palm before baking.
Then I had to completely change the shape of my Strassburgare. If to be dipped in chocolate, they’re usually piped with a star-tip in a compacted, swirly, several s:s shape (Google it and you’ll see what I mean) but when I was going to pipe them out the seams of my piping bag burst open! I don’t know if it was just bad quality or if the dough was slightly too solid – but when I changed over to one of my disposable plastic piping bags it came out smoothly. Unfortunately this meant I lost the star shape, so I decided to pipe them round instead.
Either way, my colleagues were delighted with my visit and my biscuits, and I hope they weren’t just being nice to me!