Category Archives: sweet

Celebrating Fat Tuesday with Semlor

2017-semlor_2017-5February is traditionally the month I would go from one bakery to another to hunt down the best semlor in town. But since moving abroad that task has been put on hold.

Semlor, also called fettisbullar, is a cardamom bun filled with almond paste and heavy whipped cream. Comfortingly delicious. Traditionally they should be eaten on Fat Tuesday before lent, but Swedes start having them as soon as they finished their Christmas’ ginger cookies and keep enjoying them until it’s time for Easter candy.

From a distance, I have noticed that in the last few years this wonderful almond paste filled cardamom bun has started to come in different varieties and flavors. Sometimes even in different shapes. As much as I love chocolateprincess cake, or licorice I think my favorite always will be the traditional combination of cardamom, almond paste and hand whipped cream.

This year, Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Paczki Day or Pancake Day) falls on Tuesday, February 28. So its time to get the ingredients ready and start baking.
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Semlor
recipe from Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break

makes: about 12 to 16 buns

for the buns
7 tablespoons (3.5 oz, 100 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (240 ml) milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup (1.75 oz, 50 g) sugar
3½ cups (1.12 lb, 495 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed

filling
2 cups (10 oz, 285 g) blanched almonds
¼ cup (1.75 oz, 50 g) sugar
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 ml) milk

to finish
½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 ml) heavy whipped cream
powdered sugar

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and then add in the milk. Heat until the liquid is warm to the touch (about 110ºF/43°C). In a cup, dissolve the yeast in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the warm liquid. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until bubbles form on top.

In a large bowl, whisk together one of the eggs with the sugar. Pour in the butter and milk mixture including the yeast. Stir until well blended.

Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Work the dough until well combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured flat surface, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough should feel moist so try not to add more flour to the dough (which could result in dry buns).

Place dough in a bowl, cover with a dampened tea towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

On a flat surface, divide dough into 12 to 16 equal pieces and roll each into individual rounds. Place them with 2 inches (2.5 cm) apart on a greased baking sheet (or line with a silicon baking mat). Cover with a dry tea towel and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes. (To test when they are ready to bake, poke your finger gently into one of the buns; the indent should slowly spring back, about 3 seconds).

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

When you are ready to bake, beat the last egg with a fork and brush each round all over the top. Bake until the tops of the buns are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the buns from the oven and transfer to the counter. Cover with a tea towel and let cool completely.

To make the almond paste, in a food processor grind the almonds until finely ground. Add in the sugar and almond extract and pulse until mixture sticks together.

With a knife, cut a “lid” off the top of each bun. Scoop out a portion of the inside and place the crumbs together with the almond paste in a large bowl. Mix it well together and add as much milk as needed to create a thick and smooth filling.

Fill each bun with the filling, followed by some whipped cream. Top with the “lid” and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Brew some coffee and serve immediately.

Note: Semlor doesn’t store well, so if you are not planning to eat them all in one go, I suggest you only prepare as many as you need. Freeze the rest of the buns as soon they are cool.

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related links

Whole Wheat Semlor by Anna Brones @ Food52

Polish Paczki (Doughnuts) by Barbara Rolek at Spruce

Mardi Gras recipes in New York Times

22 New Orleans Classics to Celebrate Mardi Gras  – SAVEUR

Semolina Pancakes – kokblog recipe

Paris-Brest
(just because they remind me of semlor)

more Semlor

and

French Crepes
and the La Chandeleur tradition (February 2)
by Clotilde Dusoulier

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Pssst the drawing on the top is available as a print here.

Joulutorttu – Finnish Christmas Tarts

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My grandmother was phenomenal in the art of making puff pastry, so good that she made several batches every year that she portioned out to everyone in the family, neighbors and near by acquaintances that took the advantage of her skill. I’m sure she loved it and occasionally she tried to pass her technique along but to my knowledge nobody really understood how she did it with such grace and no fuss.

Every Christmas as long as I can remember my grandmother and later my mother have been treating me with Joulutorttu (Finnish Christmas Tarts). Joulutorttu are pinwheel shapes puff pastries filled with prune jam dusted with powdered sugar. Traditionally the tarts are shaped like fig. 2 in the diagram but they can be shaped as simple as a classic Danish (fig 1).

Well, last year I figured it was about time for me to learn the art of puff pastry and obviously much of it get shaped into joulutorttu. My version here is filled with jam where the prunes is simply cooked with just port. I’m sure my grandmother would have liked my progress, especially if shared with a strong cup of tea and a game of canasta.  

Both jam and puff pastry can be made beforehand so you can assemble just as many as you want and need all through the holiday.

Happy holiday everyone.

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Joulutorttu (Finnish Christmas Torts)
makes about 14

1 batch of puff pastry

prune jam
1 cup (about 200 grams) pitted prunes, cut in half
½ cup (120 milliliters) sweet Marsala wine (or port)

to finish
1 egg, beaten
powdered sugar

Cut the prunes in quarters and soak them in port for 1 to 2 hours. The prunes should become soft.

In a small pot, cook the prunes with the port on medium low heat until thick and the fruit has fallen apart, about 10 minutes. Add more wine (or water) if the jam seems too dry. Let cool slightly before placing the jam into a food processor. Pulse until smooth and thick.

Leftover jam can be stored in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. This jam is also awesome on on toast together with cheese.

Preheat oven 425°F (220°C).

Roll out portions of puff pastry until just over 1/8 inch (approximately 0.5 centimeter) thick. Cut out 3 by 3 inch (8 by 8 centimeters) squares, place a spoonful of jam on each square. Shape each square by cutting each corner, like in fig. 2 or shape them as shown in fig. 1. Brush corners with a little water before closing the shape.

Brush each tart with the egg and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve slightly warm, dusted with powdered sugar, with heavy whipped cream.

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Links to other traditional Nordic holiday baking:

Joulutorttu with a ricotta puff pastry – by Peggy Saas

London Eats Joulutorttu

Ginger Spice Cake by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall

Glögg – Swedish Mulled Wine

How to host a glögg party by Madame Fromage

Pepparkakor with diagram on how to build a gingerbread house
recipe & text by Anna Brones  – diagram & illustrations by Johanna Kindvall

Lussebullar by Anna Brones (illustrated by Johanna Kindvall)

Scalded Rye Bread with Raisins – kokblog recipe

More Swedish holiday baking in the Fika book.

How to make Puff Pastry

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I have a confession, I love puff pastry! This buttery and flaky pastry works equally well with sweet or savory dishes. And luckily it’s not that hard to make yourself. A little time consuming, yes. But you can definitely do it and it will surely impress your guests! In between folds you can take care of laundry, read a book, organise your pantry or go for a run. You can also do some other cooking experiment or have a friend over for wine.  So roll up your sleeves and get ready to roll.

Puff Pastry
about 1¼ lb (560 grams) puff pastry

1 ¾ cups (8.75 ounces, 250 grams) all-purpose flour (extra if needed) 
14 tablespoons (7 ounces, 200 grams) unsalted butter
½ to 1 teaspoon salt, optional
½ cup (130 ml) ice water

Place all-purpose flour directly onto a flat surface, preferably a cold material such as a stone or stainless steel counter top. Cut 3.5 tablespoons (1.75 ounces, 50 grams) of the butter in smaller pieces and pinch the butter into the flour until you have a coarse crumb. Don’t over work, you should still have bits of butter in there. Make a well in the crumbly dough and poor in the ice cold water. Work together quickly and form a rough ball. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Shape the remaining butter, 10.5 tablespoons (5.25 ounces, 150 grams) into an approximately 5 inch (about 13 cm) square block. Wrap in plastic foil and refrigerate.

Assembly
Cut a deep cross in the dough ball. Fold every corner out and roll the dough with a rolling pin to an approximately 8 inch (20 cm) square. Place the butter block diagonally on top of the dough. Fold every corner into the middle (without stretching), like folding an envelope. Pinch the seams together slightly.

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1st – 2nd fold
Turn the package up side down. Dust a little flour on both sides and roll it out carefully to approximately 12 inch (about 30 cm) square. Make a three fold (like folding a letter, see diagram). Flatten the fold slightly and fold a 2nd time the other way. Cover the dough and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

kindvall-PuffPastry-folding

3rd – 4th fold
Roll the dough to approximately a 13 inch (33 cm) square. Make one 3 fold one way and another 3 fold the other way. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5th – 6th fold
Repeat as in 3rd – 4th fold.
Let the dough rest again for 30 minutes before using. If using it later, freeze in a well wrapped freezing bag, whole or in pieces with wax paper in between.

tips
* keep all ingredients cold
* don’t overwork the dough
* if your kitchen is very hot you will need to rest the dough in the fridge between every fold.
* if you feel that the dough starts to get too warm, refrigerate immediately
* before baking shaped pastries let them rest for 15 minutes on a cold baking sheet before baking them in the oven, it will keep the shape better

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suggested things to do with puff pastry

Caramelized Apple Tarte by Clotilde Dusoulier
Palmiers by London Eats
Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese & Honey by Some the Wiser
Joulutorttu (Finnish Christmas Tarts) by My Dear Kitchen in Helsinki
Butternut Squash and Pecorino Tart by Karen Biton-Cohen @ The Kitchn
Almost a Pissalasiere by La Tartine Gourmande

 

Fika: Fyriskaka with Pear

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Last Saturday I hosted a classic kafferep (Swedish coffee gathering with cakes and cookies) to celebrate the release of my book Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. I had such a great time talking cookies and cakes while sipping bubbles (not the usual drink for this kind of party but essential when you need to celebrate). For the party I had baked up a selection of the cakes from the book. For e.g. there were Cardamom buns, Finska pinnar, Syltgrottor, Muskotsnittar, Anis & Hazelnut Biscotti, Hazelnut & Coffee Cake, Almond tart and Sticky Chocolate Cake (my neighbor’s son wanted to move in with me after having his first bite).

During the first week, the book made it into New York Times’ T Magazine (review by Lindsey Tramuta), Huffington Post (review by Alison Spiegel), Eater (review by Kat Odell) and many more. The book was also mentioned in the Swedish evening post Expressen.

I’m super flattered and happy how well our book has been received so far.

Yesterday I decided to make another version of the Swedish classic Fyriskaka. Fyriskaka is traditionally made with apples (recipe in the book) that are coated with cinnamon. In my version below I’m using pears instead of apples. I’m also suggesting a new topping, cardamom and pearl sugar (pärlsocker). If you can’t get hold of pearl sugar I suggest you use brown sugar. Its not the same, but equally tasty).

Fyriskaka with Pear
(adapted from the recipe in Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall, page 94)

9 tablespoons (4½ ounces, 128 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds, crushed
3 to 4 medium-size pears (about 14 oz, (400 grams)
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces, 132 grams) natural cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (5 ounces, 142 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

topping
1-2 tablespoons pearl sugar (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9-inch (23-centimeter) springform pan.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the cardamom, then set aside to cool.

Peel the pears and slice them thinly. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar with the cinnamon; then add the pears and carefully turn them so that they are evenly coated. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the slightly cooled butter and cane sugar. Add the eggs one by one, whisking until evenly blended. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir together carefully until you get a smooth batter.

Spread the batter in the baking pan. Place the pear slices in the batter in a circular formation; the pieces should be close together. Sprinkle the pearl sugar and crushed cardamom on top.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

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Want more fika ideas? Click the coffee cup icon here to the left, and you will get several of my other fika related recipes.

Links
Behind the Scenes of the making of Fika
R
ead also Anna Brones’ version here

Classic Chocolate Mousse

© Johanna Kindvall

My grandmother always served chocolate coffee mousse for dessert and I loved it. But as a kid, I didn’t really like coffee on its own. The first time I ever drank coffee I kept adding sugar to make it taste better… it just made it worse and it took me years to recover. Today, now that I have learnt to love coffee (especially strong and black), I still can’t imagine drinking coffee with sugar.

Oh well, coffee in cakes, ice cream or chocolate mousse is a always a treat (and in my upcoming book which I co-authored together with Anna Brones, Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break we share a delicious Hazelnut Coffee Cake recipe). When I started to make chocolate mousse this winter I ended up not flavoring it at all. I just liked it as it was. Thick, chocolaty and totally comforty! The recipe I’m using, is an old classic formula which you can find in Elizabeth David’s book French Provincial Cooking. The recipe is simply described with a few words:

“4 yolks beaten into 4 oz. of melted bitter chocolate, and the 4 whipped whites folded in.”

Her recipe serves 4, which makes this a super clever recipe. You just need to count one egg and one ounce chocolate (about 30 grams) per person.

The illustrated recipe diagram above suggests adding one teaspoon of sugar per serving, which I learnt from Felicity Cloake’s How to make perfect chocolate mousse article in the Guardian.

And I’m sure a little bit of cold coffee, some drops of rum or juice of an orange will work fine to spice it up. As I said, I like it just plain or topped with star anise infused black berries.

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check also out these chocolate mousse links

Chocolate Mousse (coffee & dark rum) by David Lebovitz (adapted from Julia Childs recipe)
Spizy Boozy Mousse (coffee, cinnamon & ancho chili) by Sara Kate Gillingham @ theKitchn
Swedish Chef making Chocolate Moose – Muppet Show (video)

If you are afraid to get Salmonella by using raw eggs, you can pasteurize them. (I get fresh organic eggs that are free from hormones and antibiotics).

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