Category Archives: sweet

The Art of Swedish Holiday Baking (Recipe for Ginger Spice Cake)

kindvall-spicecake-coffee-02

Despite different time zones, my book collaborator Anna Brones and I always find time to bake “together”. And for our regular skype meetings we always treat ourselves with strong coffee and something sweet to nibble.  This week we are celebrating a little extra; Fika just got listed in Saveur Magazine‘s 100 cooks’ edition list! (issue 171, January & February 2015). We wish you all a wonderful and sweet Holiday and a Happy New Year.

Julbak: The Art of Swedish Holiday Baking (With a Recipe for Ginger Spice Cake)
Text by Anna Brones

If there’s one thing that’s essential to a good December in Sweden, it’s julbak. It might come as no surprise that “Christmas baking” is of the utmost importance in a country where December is cold and very dark month; what’s better on a chilly winter day than a warm kitchen wafting of freshly baked gingersnaps? Not a whole lot. Well, except for a kitchen wafting of freshly baked gingersnaps AND a pot of glögg.

Holidays, no matter what they are and what culture they are celebrated in, are often linked to certain foods. The act of preparing a particular dish ties us to the tradition and the celebration. While we may find ourselves far from family, friends and the place that the tradition comes from, if we prepare a certain food, we are immediately transported back.

Julbak is this kind of tradition, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Swede, whether they’re living in Sweden or elsewhere, that isn’t craving pepparkakor come the month of December.

While julbak can consist of a whole variety of baked goods, there are a few Swedish classics that are indicative of this time of year:

Pepparkakor – Swedish gingersnaps, rolled out thinly and cut into traditional shapes like hearts, pigs and adorable gingermen and gingerwomen. Ready to try pepparkakorHere’s a recipe.

© Johanna Kindvall

Lussekatter – Also known as lussebullar or saffransbullar, these are the beautiful sweet buns baked into a golden yellow. The color comes from the addition of saffron, and the buns are decorated with currants. They are commonly baked for St. Lucia day. Here’s a recipe if you’re feeling up for it.

kindvall-lussekatter

Glögg – While the Swedish mulled wine isn’t a baked good, you can’t eat all of the julbak treats without a nice mug of glögg to go with them. Here’s a recipe to try.

Of course, the problem with both pepparkakor and lussekatter is that you need time to bake them, and not everyone always has it. But because the flavors are so iconic, in the modern Swedish baking world, you’ll see saffron and the spices used pepparkakor incorporated in a variety of creative ways in other recipes, all helping you get the traditional flavors of December with a little less kitchen work.

Last December, Johanna and I were caught up testing all of our classic Christmas recipes for our book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break – which is coming out in just a few months – so this year we thought it might be fun to do something a little different. In Sweden, the pepparkaka can take many forms. In our book for example we have the classic version as well as the softer ginger cookie, which the Swedes smartly call a lunchpepparkaka, because it’s so dense you can in fact eat it for lunch. This recipe takes the form of a soft ginger cake, but still includes all the spices normally used in a traditional pepparkaka. The end result is a tasty gingersnap spice cake of sorts. Perfect with glögg or just a strong cup of coffee.

Anna & Johanna’s Ginger Spice Cake
makes one 6-cup Bundt cake

10½ tablespoons (5¼ ounces, 148 grams) unsalted butter
3 egg yolks, room temperature
¼ cup (2½ ounces, 70 grams) honey
2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoon milk
¾ cup (3¾ ounces, 106 grams) all-purpose flour
3 egg whites, room temperature
¾  cup (5¼ ounces, 148 grams) natural cane sugar 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour the Bundt pan. 

In a bowl, cream together the butter with the honey until well blended. Add the egg yolks one by one followed by the milk and the spices. Mix the batter together.

Sift the flour, then stir it carefully into the batter, stirring as little as possible until you get an even and sticky batter. The batter is quite stiff but will get lighter in the next step. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, ideally with an electric mixer. When soft peaks form, add the cane sugar little by little. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the sugar and egg white mixture into the batter and keep folding until the batter is evenly blended. Be careful not to overstir. Pour directly into the Bundt pan. 

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake is done when a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted at the thickest part of the cake. If the cake starts to get a golden brown color earlier (which can happen after 20 minutes), remove it from the oven, cover it with aluminum foil, and put back in the oven. This will prevent the top of the cake from burning. 

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for a bit before inverting it onto a plate.

*

more by Anna Brones and me

ToscaKaka with Orange (recipe)
Kanelbullar (recipe)
Mazariner (recipe)
Semlor (recipe)
Amuse Bouche (illustrated food caption series, Foodie Underground 2012-2013)
Fika – The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break (about the book and where to pre-order)

 

Toscakaka med Apelsin (Swedish Almond Cake with Orange)

Toscakaka med Apelsin (Swedish Almond Cake with Orange)
by Anna Brones

When spring rolls in, I always think of my mother giving me a package of pink, yellow and blue feathers. They had thin metal wire at the tips, to be wrapped around branches. From the kitchen window I could see my mother cutting thin branches from the birch tree. She would bring them inside, set them in a large glass vase, and I would get to work attaching the feathers.

In Sweden, just like at Christmas you decorate a tree, at Easter time you get out the påskfjädrar and decorate a collection of branches, a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s. And my mother was sure that we always had a few bags of påskfjädrar on hand so as to make our house a colorful celebration of the season.

Many people in Sweden celebrate Easter, whether or not they have religious leanings. In fact, today it’s mostly celebrated as a secular holiday, one where everyone gets time off to celebrate the long weekend. Easter weekend is a time to gather with friends and family and eat good food together. There are the traditional Swedish holiday dishes like pickled herring, but whatever is served on the table is always an indicator of the season, with spring-friendly foods. And there are eggs of course. After a winter of heavy foods, the Easter celebration can be refreshing.

If you’re lucky, you may be gifted a cardboard egg, full of sweets, and if that isn’t enough for you, there’s sure to be an assortment of cakes to go with coffee. Because in Sweden, there is always cake and coffee.

Which brings us to the question: what kind of cake to serve?

Toscakaka is a classic Swedish recipe; you’ll find it in many an old cookbook, and it’s often an option at pastry shops. Its almond and caramel top makes it a step above ordinary cakes, which makes it a good option for a festive and celebratory meal. But the magic of this recipe is when the caramel seeps into the cake during baking, making for a moist and flavorful cake.

As we come out of the winter and citrus season, we thought it only fitting to celebrate the arrival of spring with an infusion of orange. The orange zest and juice in the cake pair well with the rich caramel on top, and giving it the perfect balance of flavors. You’ll often find this type of cake made with baking powder, but we opted to make it rise by separating the eggs and whisking the egg whites, similar to making a meringue.

Glad påsk!

Anna & Johanna’s Toscakaka with Orange

one 9” cake

cake
3 ½ oz (100 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (3 ¾ ounces, 106 grams) blanched almonds
3 egg yolks, room temperature
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup (3 ¾ oz, 106 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 ½ oz, 100 grams) natural cane sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces, 71 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon orange zest + 3 tablespoons orange juice

almond & caramel topping
3 ½ oz (100 grams) butter
1/3 cup (2 ½ ounces, 71 g grams) brown sugar
3/4 cup (3 ¾ ounces, 106 grams) blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Grease a 9” spring form pan and sprinkle some breadcrumbs evenly.

Grind the blanched almonds for the cake in a food processor until almost finely ground; there could still be a little chunks of almonds left.

Cream together butter and brown sugar until well blended and creamy. Add one egg yolk at the time and mix it well together. Sift in the flour and carefully fold it into the batter together with the ground almonds. Add in the milk and orange zest. Stir as little as possible until you get an even and sticky batter.

In a grease-free bowl, whisk the egg white with an electric whisk (or by hand). When soft peaks forms add in the cane sugar little by little. Whisk until stiff peaks forms. Carefully fold the sugar and egg white mixture into the batter and keep folding until the batter is evenly blended. Be careful not to over stir.

Pour the batter into the greased and breaded spring form pan.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25 minutes at the lower part of the oven. While cake is baking prepare quickly the almond & caramel topping.

Melt the butter together with the brown sugar. In the mean time chop the rest of the blanched almonds roughly. When the butter and sugar is melted add the almonds and stir together until it thickens.

Take out the cake from the oven (if the cake feels too wobbly let it bake a little longer). Poor the almond & caramel over, carefully spread it evenly. Bake the cake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until cake had got a nice color and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted to the thickest part of the cake.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool. Once cool, remove the cake from the pan.

*

This post was also published at Foodie Underground.

 

Other articles by Anna & Johanna

Mazainer – Swedish Pastry Classic
Lussebullar – Swedish Saffron Buns
Kanelbullar & kardemummabullar
and
Anna is also my partner for my 1st book (Ten Speed Press, Spring 2015)

Making of a Kitchen Towel

I have an announcement to make… I have set up a shop at SpoonFlower where I’m selling patterns for fabrics and gift wraps etc.

Some of the patterns are specially designed to make one single tea towel (see above) by selecting the Fat Quarter size (27″x18″) and their Linen-Cotton Canvas fabric. This fabric is also a perfect match for tablecloths, napkins, aprons, bags* etc. There are of course plenty of other options.

Soon there will be more patterns in the shop. For example I have been working on some flower patterns and as soon I have proofed the samples I will put them up for sale.

I hope you enjoy them.

* for tote bags I would choose  their Heavy Cotton Twill fabric. Its a slightly thicker cotton canvas. See more fabric types here.

Hazelnut & Cinnamon Cookies

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As you’ve probably noticed I haven’t been posting articles for a bit – which is a good sign I’ve been drawing other projects. Anna Brones and I have now almost finished our first draft for our book (scheduled to be published in Spring 2015). So if I haven’t been in the kitchen developing recipes I’ve been at my drawing table drawing them (or on a ladder patching and painting walls for my new home). In late July the book “The Culinary Cyclist” by Anna Brones was published. The book is illustrated by me and it’s for sale here in my SHOP. I also have many other drawing projects that I will share with you when the time is right.

Autumn is here and I don’t know about you but I think its a perfect time to crawl up on the couch with some cookies and a book.

Hazelnut & Cinnamon Cookies
35 cookies
5 oz (140 gram) butter
1/3 cup (67 g) brown sugar
2/3 cup (95 g) raw hazelnuts
1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Turn the oven on to 350°F (175°C).
Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet. Blend them roughly in a food processor (or chop them into tiny pieces).
Mix together hazelnuts, sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon in a wide large bowl or directly on top of the counter. Work all quickly together with your fingertips (or with a knife) into a dough. Form two separate 7″ long rolls, about 1″ in diameter. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
With a sharp knife, cut about 18-20 slices to each roll. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are a nice color. Let the cookies cool separately from each other on a flat surface before storing them in sealed containers. The cookies can also be stored in the freezer.

Want more cookies… Coconut Macaroons

Guest post: Xuxos & Churros

My next guest here on kokblog is my brother Oskar Kindvall. Oskar is probably one of the biggest gottegris (directly translated to ‘sweet tooth pig’) I know. As long as I can remember he has been very specific with sweet (and savory) things he likes and desire. For birthdays and Christmas he wished for marzipan and olives while I was dreaming of a new barbie doll or drawing equipment (yes that was a passion already then).

Oskar was born in Valencia when my parents lived in Cullera, a small town by the east coast of Spain. This must obviously have had a great impact on his interest in Spanish treats (see below). During a journey we made together in the late 80’s, I remember him carefully mapping out where the best flan was made. He of course returned later to the very best. He also makes excellent paella all year around in his garden. A skill he learned from our mother and father.

From an early age Oskar also developed a huge interest in nature and especially small creatures such as frogs, beetles and later on birds, grasshoppers, bats and butterflies. Like his passion for sweet treats, this interest never stopped. Today he works as an IT Developer, researcher and environmental analysts at ArtDatabanken, Uppsala, Sweden. I’m not surprised that he has become an associate professor of ecology as for me he was a professor long before he reached university.

Xuxos & Churros
by Oskar Kindvall

When traveling in Mediterranean parts of Europe I have adopted a peculiar obsession for fried pastries. My favorites among these delicious pieces of edible art are the donut like creations called Xuxos. These can be found in north eastern Spain and Southernmost parts of France. When made by experienced hands according to the tradition at local bakeries, there is almost nothing that can stop my appetite for them, except for one more of them. The really good ones are quite big, stuffed with tasty vanilla cream, extraordinary greasy and full of sticky sugar all over which make them both a little bit hard to handle and extremely calorie rich. Usually you are quite full after one of them which is so frustrating.

For obvious reasons I have tried to make my own xuxos. However, even if my attempts have been really tasty most of the time, I still have not revealed the secret the experienced traditional bakers possess. I realize that it is time to make a visit behind the scenes of the bakery next time. Especially since the handmade Xuxos have become increasingly hard to find nowadays. In most areas where I used to find good Xuxos almost everywhere in the early 80’s, it seems that they have been totally outcompeted by machine made copies with no magic. It appears to me that the negative trend has been worse in France while really good xuxos still can be found around Barcelona.

Someday I hope to meet someone who can show me how real xuxos should be made. Meanwhile I enjoy baking another fried pastry, called Churros, which is much easier to bake without much experience. Churros can be found almost everywhere in Spain and southern France and very often you can watch the whole baking procedure while waiting for your order. Besides, there are a lot of recipes on the internet. No secrets, not much magic but still very tasty! Most churrerias serve the newly baked churros on a plate together with sugar and chocolate. Personally, I recommend eating them with whipped cream, strawberry jam and a little sugar on top. However, this combination I have never seen at the Spanish churrerias. As a consequence you have to make them yourself to really enjoy their potential.