• Fullkornsskorpor

    [Wholewheat rusks, a Swedish twice-baked bread]

    Skorpor are a traditional twice-baked bread from Sweden. And although I haven’t had time to do much research, I can only imagine that, like many other rusks, they originated from the need to either use old loaves or to conserve bread over an extended period of time.

    Often made with white flour and cardamom, you can now find many different kinds of skorpor on the shelves at the supermarket. I’ve even seen people make them out of leftover kanelbullar; which is something I might try but we rarely have uneaten bullar and when we do, they almost always end up as a French toast.

    Here in Sweden, skorpor are eaten as a mellanmål [afternoon tea], with butter and cheese, perhaps a spoonful of orange marmalade. Sometimes even dipped in warm rosehip soup.

    I must admit I’m partial to butter and marmalade. And the slight nuttiness of wholewheat flour. Perhaps it was the breakfasts made of Krisprolls and thé au lait [milk tea] that I fondly remember from my childhood.
    And yet, it took me almost thirty years to make skorpor in my kitchen. I think I started a couple of years ago. It was the end of blood orange season.
    That day, I took out the old Swedish baking books I had collected and went through every skorpa recipe I could find. I made blood orange marmalade too.

    I wrote weights down and calculated bakers’ percentages. I compared, and tasted, and made notes. And from them came the recipe that now sits in my notebook, the one I’m sharing with you today.
    I didn’t really consider doing so. But then, the other morning, a week or so ago, as I kneaded butter into the dough of my monthly batch, I thought that perhaps you’d like to make your own too.

    Notes

    – If graham flour isn’t available where you live, you can use 300 g wholewheat flour and 60 g wheatgerm.

    – All the recipes I’ve found use around 60 g of fresh yeast for each kilogram of flour; and while it may seem like a lot, it does reduce proofing times tremendously.
    You could get away with using half the yeast and allowing a longer proof. I have however decided to stay true to the recipes I’ve used to develop this formula and the amount of yeast did not cause any noticeable shortcomings.

    – I think it is fundamental to use a fork to make deep indents in each bread around its entire perimeter before breaking it in half; and I wouldn’t recommend slicing with a knife, no matter how much faster it would be.
    It is precisely the rugged surface created by the fork that makes for an interesting texture and flavour, due to the uneven browning.

    Fullkornsskorpor

    Makes around 80 pieces.

    485 g milk
    420 g plain flour
    360 g graham flour
    40 g fresh yeast
    14 g salt
    100 g butter, thinly sliced

    Place all the ingredients aside from the butter in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook.

    Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes, or until medium gluten development. Add the butter, one slice at a time and knead for a further 10 minutes or so until the dough is smooth and elastic.

    Cover with clingfilm, and leave to proof at room temperature until doubled in size, around 30 minutes.

    Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

    Place the dough onto a lightly floured work bench. Press to get rid of the gases, and divide in 40 pieces, at approximately 35g each.
    Ball each piece and place onto the prepared baking trays. Flatten each ball to 5-6cm in diameter using the palm of your hand.

    Cover with clingfilm and proof until doubled in size, around 45-60 minutes.
    While the bread if proofing, preheat the oven to 250°C/fan 230°C.

    When ready to bake, reduce the oven temperature to 225°C/fan 200°C. And bake, one tray at a time for 14 minutes, rotating halfway through baking if needed.

    Allow to cool down slightly, and using a fork, make deep indents in each bread around its entire perimeter; then break in half.

    Arrange the halves on the baking trays, and return to the oven for 8 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 120°C/fan 100°C and bake for a further hour, or until fully dried.

    The skorpor will keep beautifully in an airtight jar for well over a month.


  • Cake week-end au citron, confit de clémentines à la vanille

    [Lemon weekend cake, clementine confit]

    Originally published on January 29, 2010

    This is a cake I’ve made so many times over the years that I could make it with my eyes closed.

    I remember the first time I posted about it. It was early 2010, and a thin mantle of snow had fallen overnight, just enough to cover the ground.

    I had just started working as a commis pastry chef at the Capital, a small boutique hotel that would become the road map of my seven years in London. Yes, many of the chefs I consider my mentors and friends have – at one point or another – worked in the kitchen where I did my very first service.

    This reminds me that I’ll have to tell you, one day, about the time where I traveled across town – from Islington to Mayfair – on a vegetable delivery van to meet Chavot for an interview, leaving loaves of sourdough proofing in the kitchen above John Salt, and came back just in time to bake them before dinner service.

    But… this cake. A gâteau de voyage [a travel cake]. It doesn’t translate well, but the name alone suffices to evoke the soft lull of a holiday; the carefully wrapped slice, eaten on the night train; the afternoons at the beach; perhaps even, the long drive through the Massif Central.
    All gâteaux de voyage have the particularity to keep well at room temperature over a week or so. And this weekend cake is no exception, with both butter and crème fraiche to keep it moist, I find that it tastes even better the next day.

    It starts by whisking the eggs and sugar, with just a pinch of salt. The flours gets folded in. Then a third of the batter is mixed with the fats, then delicately folded back into the remaining batter.
    Although, I now often make it by adding the fats to the eggs, then folding in the flour.

    For the sake of staying true to my original recipe, I will leave the former method – as written in 2010, but know that both work fine, the latter leading to a slightly denser crumb, which I like when having cakes with tea or more accurately – and dare I say it – I love when dipping a slice in piping hot tea.
    Please, tell me you also give in to this ritual or am I the only one?

    And although, I can never resist it unadorned, I am rather fond of serving it with a generous spoonful of clementine confit and a dollop of crème fraiche.
    There is something about the suave softness of the compote against the gentle bite of the cake.
    Sometimes I even make it with tea – finely milled to a powder – folded into the batter. Other times, I leave it plain, perhaps with a touch of vanilla or orange blossom water, and we eat it with softly whipped cream and warmed raspberries.

    Yes, more than a recipe this really is blueprint and should be used as such.

    Just a quick note on baking temperatures: while I often bake this loaf cake at 175°C for approximately 45 minutes, I can only remind you of my favourite method for baking loaf cakes.
    5 minutes at 200°C/fan 180°C, 10 minutes at 180°C/fan 170°C, and around 25 minutes at 170°C/fan 160°C.

    Cake weekend au citron, confit de clémentines à la vanille

    Makes one loaf cake.

    For the clementines confit
    350 g clementines, around 3 to 4
    200 g caster sugar
    half a vanilla pod
    100 g water
    20 g cornflour diluted in 40 g cold water

    For the lemon weekend cake
    4 eggs
    250 g caster sugar
    zest from 2 organic lemons
    200 g plain flour
    one tsp baking powder
    150 g creme fraiche
    50 g butter, melted

    softened butter, extra for piping

    To serve
    a generous dollop of crème fraiche for each serving

    Make the clementine confit: bring a large pan of water to the boil. Plunge the clementines in it and simmer for 3 minutes. Sieve, placing the fruits in an ice-cold water bath as you do so. Repeat one more time. Then chill the clementines until cold enough to handle.
    Slice finely, and place in a pan along with the sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, and water.
    Simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced and almost candied. Then vigorously fold in the cornflour mixture. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes, and transfer to a bowl.
    The confit will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

    Make the cake batter: preheat the oven to 175°C/fan 155°C; butter and flour a loaf tin.
    Place the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl, and whisk until thick and doubled in size.
    In an another bowl, mix the flour and baking powder, and fold into the egg mixture.
    Pour a third of the batter onto the cream and melted butter, mix well, and transfer back to the main batter mix, gently folding in as you do so.
    Pour into the prepared tin. If you want an even crack in the center of your loaf cake, pipe a thin line of softened butter across the batter; and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean.
    Allow to cool down 20-30 minutes before unmoulding.
    If not eating right away, place into an airtight container and keep at room temperature.

    Place a slice of cake cut in half lengthwise in a plate. Top with both a spoonful of confit and a dollop of crème fraiche.

  • Saffransmazariner

    [Saffron mazariner]

    Twelve weeks ago, almost to the second, Sienna was put on my chest; pink as a candy, eyes wide open. Twelve weeks that went quickly, and also, twelves weeks when winter came and went more times that I can count.

    There was the night we rushed to the maternity; the air suddenly so sharp we’d forgotten how it felt against our cheeks. There was the first snow, as early as the third of October, which was gone a few days later; and as it did, the longing for a winter as I had known it only became more intense with every morning that passed by without a snowflake. And then, one day, winter was here, not that it didn’t come without a warning.
    The afternoons by the river, frost on every branch. That Sunday when snowflakes were big as cotton balls. And the clear evening skies we had last week when the temperatures dropped to -20°C.

    In our kitchen, there is a bread made of rye and filmjölk [sour milk] on the counter. And every time we open the pantry, the earthy smell of saffron fills the room. We have blueberry cakelets in the fridge, and lussekatter in a jar above it. A mjukpepparkaka [gingerbread cake] on our table, and a baking tray filled with brown butter and cardamom salted caramel, waiting to be cut.

    Yes, there is so much I want to tell you about, but Christmas is only a few days away, and some things cannot wait, like these saffransmazariner.

    Saffransmazariner

    A mazarin is a tartlet traditionally composed of three elements:
    – a crisp pâte sablée case
    – an almond cream filling, not unlike the French crème d’amande
    – a simple icing sugar glaze

    Sometimes, a thin layer of jam covers the bottom of the tart shell, or the filling can be topped with fresh berries before baking, in which case, the mazarin isn’t glazed.

    Its origin – although I haven’t quite had the time to research – seems rather uncertain, possibly linked to an Italian cardinal who moved to Paris and first assisted Richelieu, only to succeed him in the mid seventeenth century.
    Through his regency, Cardinal Mazarin has been thought to popularise pasta and perhaps, other Italian delicacies in France and Sweden (which were rather new allies then). And although there is no evidence of it in literature, mazariner do strongly remind me of the traditional crostata di mandorle, a very similar tart from Italy.

    My saffron mazariner are the festive version of the Swedish favourite. You see, I have the bad habit to buy mazarinformar [mazarin moulds] at every garage sale; so really, I’m always looking for an excuse to bake them under one form or another.
    You can use any tartlet moulds, ideally around 5-6cm in diameter, but in a pinch, I suspect a muffin tin will do fine too. A large mazarin, sliced in thin wedges would also look fantastic on a cake stand!

    The dough – my usual pâte sablée, with a touch of baking powder for an extra brittle shell – will make more than you need, but you can:
    – do as I usually do and line additional moulds (around 40), and keep them in the freezer for up to two months
    – freeze the extra dough, which you can later use to line a 24cm tart tin
    I tend to make it in the food-processor, but a stand-mixer works too. As always, I can only recommend rolling it before letting it to rest in the fridge; however this dough is quite forgiving, and when I don’t want to use up a lot of baking paper or if I’m feeling lazy, I will wrap the dough in clingfilm, and chill it for 20-30 minutes, then roll it onto a lightly floured bench. For more tips on how to handle tart dough, please refer to these posts here.

    Mazariner freeze beautifully. On the day you want to eat them, simply take them out for a few hours, and glaze them with a simple icing sugar glaze.

    Saffransmazariner

    Makes 28

    For the pâte sablée
    360 g plain flour
    90 g icing sugar
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    200 g unsalted butter
    100 g eggs (2 medium)

    butter, melted to grease the moulds

    For the saffron filling
    150 g unsalted butter
    1 g ground saffron
    300 g good quality marzipan (minimum 50% almonds), coarsely grated
    100 g eggs (2 medium)
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    10 g plain flour (approx. 1 tbsp)

    For the glaze
    250 g icing sugar
    water from the kettle

    Make the dough. In the bowl of a food-processor, place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and butter, and mix until the mixture ressembles wet sand. Add the eggs and pulse until it just starts to form a dough.
    Divide the dough in two and roll each piece to 3-4mm thick between two sheets of baking paper. Place onto a tray and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

    In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175°C/fan 160°C, and brush 28 (or more, read note above) tartlet moulds with melted butter; setting them aside until needed.

    Make the filling. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the saffron. Mix well and allow to infuse for a few minutes.
    Place the marzipan, eggs, salt and flour in the bowl of a food-processor and mix to a smooth paste. Slowly add the butter, mixing as you do so.
    Transfer the filling to a piping bag.

    Take the dough out of the fridge and loosen the top sheet of baking paper. Flip over and remove the other sheet, this way, the dough still is on baking paper, yet doesn’t stick to it (I hope that makes sense).
    Cut out the dough into small ovals or circles, depending on the shape of your tins, and line each with dough, trimming the excess using your thumb or a small paring knife.

    Place the lined moulds onto a baking tray, and fill them with your saffran almond cream, around 3/4 full.

    Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool down for 10-15 minutes, then unmould.

    Mix the icing sugar with a drop of hot water, just enough to form a thick paste, and spoon on top of the mazariner. Allow to set for an hour or two, then store in an airtight container for up to five days. You can also freeze the unglazed mazariner for up to 3 months (see note above).

  • Äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon

    Swedish äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon

    It was a little over a year ago; we’d brought home a mid-century secretary desk, the kind that received many layers of white paint over the years.

    It had a bookshelf, very much a happy mismatch of cookbooks, jars of kombucha, porcelain figurines, candles and notebooks. And two cupboards.

    The one of the right had draws made of birch reminiscent of an old map storage cabinet, and quite frankly, the very reason we fell in love with the desk in the first place. The one on the left had one shelf; yes, just that, although I’ve since then covered with kraft paper printed with dark green pinecones.

    Swedish äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon

    If you were to open the left door today you’d find a collection of jars, some old, other recycled or new. And on the top shelf, our treasure, in the form of fruits and sugar. A redcurrant jelly made last year after we’d spent the day picking berries in Kusmark; one I still need to tell you about. Two little jars of blackcurrant jelly that my friend Suss gifted us. Bottles of cordial, redcurrant, rhubarb, even a blueberry and lavender. Fig jam and raspberry jam too!
    There are jars of apple jelly, and two of äppelmos – apple sauce really, made with the small apples K. brought home from work last week.

    And if like me, you made this compote late at night, leaving the jars to cool down on the kitchen counter, and a pot to soak in the sink, then, in the morning, as the coffee brewer hums and cracks, go on and set a pan on the stove. Oats, water and a little milk. A pinch of salt. When it has boiled, pour into your favourite plate – maybe it’s green, or chipped, or as mine, off-white and blue with cracked ceramic glaze-, open a jar of mos and spoon a generous dollop onto your porridge.

    Swedish äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon

    Äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon

    Rather frankly, äppelmos is the kind of things that doesn’t call for a recipe; apples and sugar, a touch of acidity brough by lemon juice – or citric acid, in my case – and perhaps, a few vanilla beans, a grated piece of nutmeg, cinnamon sticks or even a few crushed pods of cardamom.
    And yet, here am I, writing one down, with perhaps more steps than required. And really, I don’t have a good enough reason for doing so, other than I want to remember how long the jars were processed in the water-bath.
    Maybe you’ll want to too, in which case, let me tell you that there are two approaches to äppelmos.

    The first is to peel the apples, core them, and then cook them with a little water and sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice or citric acid, perhaps some spices too. When they’re soft, it’s just a matter of puréeing them using an immersion blender or by passing them through a fine-mesh sieve.
    This method is best – read, quicker – for larger apples.

    The second, that I like to call gammaldags [literally, of the old days] and one I’m partial to when it comes to making mos at home with the small apples that weigh down our apple trees comes early september, is to cook the apples, with their skin, seeds and stalk still on, only to then pass the compote through a fine-mesh sieve. Yes it takes time, but so does peeling very small apples.
    I usually scoop a small quantity of cooked apples, a cup or two, into the sieve – placed over a large stable bowl – then using a slightly rigid plastic bowl scraper, press the apple flesh against the mesh of the sieve, going back and forth until it’s just the skins and peeps left.
    And if you’re lucky enough to have a food mill, then please, go ahead and use it instead of a sieve!

    This approach is also a wonderful way to use the discarded apples that have been boiled in water to make the French classic: gelée de pommes [apple jelly], recipe to come!

    Äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon

    Makes three 300mL jars.

    To make the passed apple flesh
    1.5kg apples
    300 g water

    Wash the apples under cold water, then slice in four, leaving the skin and peeps on. Add the water, and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the apples are soft and mushy.

    Scoop a small quantity of the cooked apples, a cup or two, into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large stable bow, and using a slightly rigid plastic bowl scraper, press the flesh against the mesh of the sieve, going back and forth until it’s just the skins and peeps left.
    Repeat with the remaining apples, discarding the skins every now and then so as to not crowd the sieve.

    To make the mos
    1 kg of passed apple flesh or raw peeled and diced apples*
    200 g caster sugar
    1/4 to 1/2 tsp citric acid
    , or the juice from 1/2 lemon
    3 small cinnamon sticks
    1 vanilla pod

    Place three 300mL jars along with their lids in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Then take them out and invert them onto a clean cloth. Allow to cool down and set the pan of boiling water to the side, while you get on with the mos.

    Place the apple flesh, sugar, citric acid (or lemon juice), and cinnamon sticks into a pan. Flatten the vanilla pod, then slice in half and scrape the seeds into the pan, add the pod too.

    *If you’re using raw peeled apples, place them in the pan along with 300g water, sugar, citric acid (or lemon juice), and cinnamon sticks.

    Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the compote starts to boil.
    If you like a thicker mos, simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the desired consistency. If you started with raw peeled apples, cook them until soft enough to purée with an immersion blender, or you could leave your compote chunky too, perfect to make apple pies.
    When ready, ladle into the sterilised jars, clean their rim if needed using a piece of damp kitchen paper, and screw the lids on.

    Fold a clean tea towel and place it at the bottom of the large pan of water. Set the filled jars on top of it, then bring the pan to the boil. Simmer for 40 minutes, then leave the jars in the pan off the heat for another hour.
    Carefully take them out, and allow to cool down, undisturbed. Use within a year. Once opened, store the jar in the fridge for up to a month.

  • On drying clementine slices

    Yesterday, we went to the basement and looked through our Christmas boxes. Candles holders, zinc, gold, silver, ceramic. A basket with my favourite vintage glass ornaments wrapped in torn newspaper and packed in egg cartons kept closed with rubber bands. A couple of straw julbock [Yule goat]. Many adventljusstakar [Advent lights]. Four paper stars with their cables all tangled and their light bulbs wrapped in kitchen paper.

    To the sound of Emmit Fenn’s Painting Greys, we hanged them, one by one, to our windows. And when we lit them, their soft glow reflected in the foggy glass not unlike a frosted mirror.

    [audio:http://www.likeastrawberrymilk.com/audio/paintinggreys.mp3|titles=Painting Greys|artists=Emmit Fenn]

    Later at night, we took a tray of dried clementine slices out from our oven. We left them cool down on our kitchen table where their translucent flesh glistened under the light of the white and gold star we’d hanged a few hours earlier. The same one we’d tied to that small hook by our kitchen window a year ago to the day too!

    I think I will make a garland: dried clementines and the pinecones we picked under the snow a few weeks ago now, a bit like this one, although ours might look a lot more… rustic.

    These dried clementine slices are also delicious to nibble on, much so in fact.

    Dried clementine slices

    Preheat oven to 110°C/fan 90°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

    Slice the clementines into 4-5mm slices and arrange them in a single layer on the prepared baking tray. Generously dust with icing sugar.

    Bake until the slices are dry and the flesh looks translucent, about 2 to 3 hours.

    I find it easier to remove the slices from the paper while they’re still hot. You can do so and place them onto a plate to cool down. Store in a paper bag, in a dry place.

  • Sunday morning plättar

    Last night, we had rökta räkor [smoked prawns] for dinner, with plenty of aioli and sourdough bread, and a bottle of pinot grigio whe’d kept on our veranda to chill. By the time we’d fallen asleep, the clocks had been set backwards and a thin layer of fresh snow had covered the roofs we see through our bedroom windows.
    Coffee, fleece blanket, and Sunday morning plättar [Swedish pancakes].

    Swedish plättar
    Adapted from Kungsörnen’s recipe.

    In Sweden, pancakes can have many forms. There are the larger ones, not unlike crêpes, although somewhat thicker: plättar. There are the small ones, cooked in a special pan: småplättar. And there are the ones cooked in the oven: pannkaka or perhaps more likely, ugnspannkaka.

    These names are, however, subject of a debate; one that has been dividing the country. Yes, what I’ve just told you is only valid in Skellefteå (where we live, and where K. grew up) and above. South of us, even as close as Umeå, which stands just a short 135km drive away, what I’ve come to know as plättar is called pannkakor. And plättar really means the small ones. Rather confusing, no?

    In an insightful episode of Språket, the terminology is examined and the comments make for an even more interesting read (in Swedish).
    One reader states that, to her, plättar are the pancakes that one cooks in a cast-iron pan, eventually, with small holes for små runda plättar [small round plättar]. Tunnpannkakor [literally, thin pancakes] are cooked on the stove in a frying pan, and can be made with the same batter as plättar. Ugnspannkaka is baked in a roasting tin and the batter is thicker than the one made for plättar or tunnpannkakor. She then follows by saying that in any case, plättar cannot be cooked in a frying pan, tunnpannkakor shouldn’t be made in a cast-iron pan, and of course, ugnspannkaka can only be baked in the oven.

    So really, I have no idea which recipe I’m sharing with you today other than it’s one that we love to make – on Sunday mornings or as a quick everyday dinner. One that we eat with jam, most likely the drottningsylt I made with the blueberries and raspberries we picked over the summer. One that I cook over the stove in a cast-iron pannkakspanna, something that changed everything I knew about crêpes.

    These plättar have crisp and salty edges, and are slightly thicker than the crêpes I grew up on.
    You could make them in a regular frying pan, in which case, I’d recommend warming up a generous amount of butter and oil in the pan until it just starts to smoke before cooking them. If you choose to make them in a cast-iron pan, don’t hesitate to use a little more batter than you normally would, perhaps 1 1/2 ladle instead of the usual 1.

    Swedish plättar

    Makes around 10-12 medium pancakes, approx. 22cm wide.

    2 eggs
    500 mL whole milk
    100 mL water
    180 g plain flour
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    a generous tbsp
    (around 20-30g) melted butter

    Combine the eggs, milk and water. Pour half over the flour. Add the salt and mix until smooth. Add the remaining liquids and the melted butter, whisking as you do so.
    You can use the batter straight away or store it in the fridge for up to 36 hours.

    When you are ready to cook the plättar, heat a lightly oiled cast-iron pan (read note above) over high heat.

    When the pan starts to smoke, pour a ladle of batter onto the pan, using approximately one-third of a cup for each plätt. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
    Cook the plätt for about a minute, until the edges start to brown. Loosen with a palette knife, flip over and cook the other side for a minute. Serve hot.

  • Apple pie shortbreads

    On snow.

    The first snow didn’t settle onto the ground. That night, the clouds broke into minute snowflakes as we stepped out from the house. And just like I did last year and the year before that, I stopped and stared into this black and white kaleidoscope for what could have been a nightlong, a lifelong really.

    It’s been snowing every day ever since. Flakes fluffy as cotton balls. At times for seconds, other times for hours. And although it still hasn’t turned our streets white, I have a feeling it won’t be long before it does.

    On nesting.

    There are the lamps on every windowsill, turned on as the sun sets, slightly earlier with every day that passes; for now, around half past four.

    There are the candles we burn, and the evenings spent threading rönnbär [rowan berry] into garlands.

    There is the soup plate that stands on our kitchen counter, by the right of the sink. In it, pinecones I collected during a walk in the forest, perhaps the last one before winter sets in. I turn them around every morning as I wait for my coffee to brew, and they open into an almost fractal pattern as they dry.

    There are the biscuits we bake. An early batch of pepparkakor [gingerbreads] – adapted from this recipe, more to come later -, crisp chocolate drömmar [dreams], made with hjorthornssalt [ammonium carbonate], and of course, cinnamon shortbreads. We keep a small tuperwareful of each in the last draw of our freezer, safely nested among the neverending bags of berries we picked under a summer that never really happened.

    But that’s another story for another day. In the meantime, here is to winter!

    Apple pie shortbreads

    These shortbreads were inspired by K., who suggested on one of our weekly trips to the store that we make biscuits filled with apple compote.

    We put a kilogram of small Swedish apples in our basket, along with a bag of caster sugar, and a block or two of butter.
    By the time we came home, we’d formed a pretty clear idea of these biscuits, even going as far as naming them apple pie shortbreads; because it is, essentially, what they are.

    The dough, made short with a lot of butter and a generous amount of starch is the updated version of this recipe by Leila Lindholm. Depending on what’s in my cupboards, I’ll make it with either potato starch or cornflour, and so should you.
    It’s a dough I use for many biscuits: from cinnamon shortbreads to hallon [raspberry] thumbprint cookies. A firm favourite in our house.

    The compote is cooked quickly over medium heat until the apples have released their juices, and begin to soften.
    You can use any apples that hold their shape well during baking. The list is long, but I’d suggest braeburn, royal gala, fuji, golden or granny smith, just to name a few really.

    You could pass on the glaze, although I think it is a wonderful addition, both in terms of sweetness and texture. As mentioned in the recipe below, I would however leave it out if keeping these in the fridge or the freezer, then glazing them right before they’re ready to be served.

    And as always, I bake my biscuits quite darker than the Swedes usually do; perhaps a French trait I can’t seem to rid of, I truly find that it makes for a better texture and a slight caramel flavour.

    Apple pie shortbreads

    Makes 24.

    For the dough
    300 g plain flour
    80 g potato starch or cornflour
    1 tsp sea salt
    320 g unsalted butter
    , diced
    130 g icing sugar
    1 tbsp vanilla sugar

    For the apple compote
    2 generous tbsp unsalted butter
    200 g peeled, cored and diced apples
    , around 2-3 medium
    30 g caster sugar
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    a pinch of salt

    For the glaze
    icing sugar
    boiling water

    Line two baking trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C.

    Whisk the flour and potato starch to combine, then set aside.
    Cream the butter, icing sugar and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a dough forms.

    Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 24 even slices.

    Roll each slice into a ball, then flatten it onto the prepared baking tray. Gently dent each shortbread using your thumb or the bottom of a small glass. Repeat with the remaining slices, and chill in the fridge while you get on with the apple compote.

    In a frying-pan set over high heat, melt the butter until it just starts to foam. Add the diced apples and stir to coat. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and reduce the heat. Cook until the apples start to soften, around 8-10 minutes.
    Immediately transfer to a small plate and set aside to cool down slightly.

    Fill each indent with a fat teaspoon of apple compote.

    Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 24 minutes, or until golden-brown. Allow to cool down completely.

    Make the glaze by mixing icing sugar and just-boiled water until it has a firm pouring consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and allow to set for 10-15 minutes.

    Stored into an airtight box, these will keep for a week at room temperature.
    Without the glaze you can keep the shortbreads for a little over a week in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.

  • The October mood board


    01. I fell in love with this pattern from Ulrika Gustafsson’s collab with Hemtex.
    02. A chandelier made of rönnbär [rowan berries]. I think I might have to make one for our kitchen table.
    03. I’ve been organising our kitchen cabinets this week and wonder how functional glass jars would be; I have a few that I refill regularly, however, the whole bag/package never fits in the jar so I end up with both a jarful and a random bag/package… Do you have any good pantry tips?
    04. Pumpkins for days.
    05. Katerina Marchenko‘s amazingly beautiful embroideries.
    06. I’ve been thinking a lot about baked apples these days. Perhaps with simple oat crumbs, or like these, with prunes, almonds and amaretto.
    07. The dream kitchen (and a blog favourite too: Babes in Boyland <3)

  • Scenes from a rainy day

    One day last week

    I walked along the river, one second under the yellow light from the lamppost above, the next, swallowed in the darkness of a sky clearer than it’s been in the past month.
    It is cold, somewhere around 1°C. Perhaps not as cold as this time last year, but with the many rainy days we’ve had, cold nights don’t happen often; only mornings made of fog and misty winds.

    As I looked up, the norsken [nothern lights] had started their dance; one that I could gaze at for – almost – hours.

    This morning

    We woke up to rain. Coffee, bread toasted in a cast-iron pan, salted butter, and hjortronsylt [cloudberry jam].

    We lit candles around the flat to warm the soft blue tint of the clouds projecting on our walls. And dreamt about an old house with wooden walls and a deep ceramic sink; a kitchen window and unsteady floors that crack at every step.

    One month till the first snow. May it be so! We crossed our fingers under the table.

  • Le Creuset sizes

    To be used as a personal references, since I can never seem to remember which sizes I have and which are on my wish-list.
    Perhaps you’ll find it useful too. X

    Round cocottes|Oval cocottes
    DiameterVolume Length Volume
    16 cm
    1.3 L23 cm2.6 L
    18 cm1.8 L25 cm3.2 L
    20 cm2.4 L27 cm4.1 L
    22 cm3.3 L29 cm4.7 L
    24 cm4.2 L31 cm6.1 L
    26 cm5.3 L
    28 cm6.7 L
    30 cm8.4 L
  • Daube provençale à la Chavot

    Daube provençale à la Eric Chavot

    I don’t know if I ever told you but a few months before we set off for Sweden, I spent a week-turned-half-a-year giving a hand in the kitchen at Brasserie Chavot; partly because they needed someone, mostly because I firmly intended to close my London chapter by working with chefs who had become my closest friends throughout the years, from the Capital Hotel to Brasserie Chavot: as we say in French, “La boucle est bouclée.” [to come full circle]. [quote_right] La boucle est bouclée.[/quote_right]To this day, I still cannot match the camaraderie that stems from the mixture of passion, exhaustion, restlessness that kitchens offer.

    So of course, I knew this very kitchen inside-out. We’d opened the restaurant a couple of years earlier and I had worked on the pastry section for well over a year.
    But that time, it meant for me to work with meat and fish. Vegetables and stocks.
    And to be honest, some of my fondest memories come from this time. Our mornings in the prep kitchen, where all the elements the rest of the team would use throughout the day would get made. Our evenings standing by the pass, taking out plates from the hot cupboard, plating dishes. Service please!

    The fish delivery man wore a white lab coat that had a large octopus drawn on its back with what I guess was a marker pen. Brine. Season. Heavy rolls of beef rib eye would get tied and vacpacked. Tie. Cut. Slice. Pork belly roasted overnight. Poussins [baby chicken] would be boned and flattened, then sewn. 1, 2, 3. Onions and carrots, peeled and chopped bag after bag. Italian meat balls rolled into 10g pellets that would be served with braised escargots Bourguignon [snails Bourguignon] and a mash potato foam. Chavot, his grey t-shirts, and his smile. Yes, I could go on forever, but really, there is not one moment I do not miss.

    The restaurant closed its doors after one last service on New years Eve 2015; and with it, what was the best place to eat beautifully made French food in London disappeared*.
    One of my favourite dishes was the daube de boeuf provençale, the summer version of the otherwise delicious, daube de boeuf Grand-mère.

    [quote_left]Beef braised in red and white wine, with fragrant onions, carrots, smoked pork belly, a touch of spices and citrus.[/quote_left] Beef braised in red and white wine, with fragrant onions, carrots, smoked pork belly, a touch of spices and citrus; served with creamy mashed potatoes and garnished with grilled artichokes, oven-dried tomatoes, and Niçoise olives.

    The recipe is well documented on the Caterer, and in the short video below where you can see Chavot putting the dish together.

    Daube de boeuf provençale à la Chavot

    While the dish itself is not complicated, it does involve many steps that I see as essential. However, it is possible to simplify the recipe to some extent, and that’s what I’ve done here.

    Let’s break down the daube provençale first:
    – beef chuck, sometimes called feather blade or paleron
    – caramelised mirepoix
    – braising liquid, with spices and citrus
    – veal stock
    – garnish: Niçoise olives, sundried tomatoes, grilled baby artichokes, button onions, fresh herbs

    I like to peel and chop all the vegetables, prepare the spices and measure the wines before I start.
    As always, you can prepare the daube a few days in advance, and then reheat it slowly, in an oven set on 140°C or on the stove, over low heat.

    The leftover meat can be used in many ways that we love very dearly, which is the reason why I almost certainly make a double batch of daube.
    A few favourites include: daube raviolis, hachis parmentier [cottage pie], and daube fritters, which I make by combining the shredded daube with mashed potatoes and an egg or two, forming patties then coating them in flour and pan-frying them until golden brown.

    Daube de boeuf provençale à la Chavot

    Serves 6.

    The mirepoix

    50 g virgin olive oil
    50 g duck fat
    50 g unsalted butter
    2 large carrots
    , peeled and chopped
    3 medium onions, roughly chopped
    300 g smoked pork belly, sliced into 2cm cubes

    6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
    1 sprig rosemary
    1 bay leaf
    2 sprigs thyme
    1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
    1 tsp black peppercorns
    2 cloves
    zest from 1/2 lemon
    zest from 1/4 orange

    The cooking liquids
    1 bottle red wine
    1/2 bottle white wine
    1 400g-ish can of crushed tomatoes

    The meat
    100 g plain flour
    salt and pepper
    1 large piece of beef chuck
    , approx. 1kg

    The sauce
    500 mL good quality veal stock

    The garnish
    A handful each of: Niçoise olives, sundried tomatoes, baby artichokes, button onions
    1/2 bunch of parsley
    , sliced

    Make the mirepoix

    Place the butter, olive oil and duck fat into a large pan; I use a favourite in our house, a Le Creuset cocotte. Add the carrots, and cook over medium heat until they start to caramelise. Then add the sliced onions and cook for a further 20 minutes or until they are soft and brown around the edges. Add the garlic, herbs, spices and zests, and cook, stiring every now and then, for another 5-10 minutes.

    Strain the mirepoix, keeping the fat that will then be used to sear the beef; set both aside until needed.

    Deglaze the pan with a glass of red wine to loosen any caramelised bit that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then set aside and wipe the pan clean.

    Caramelise the beef

    Place the reserved fat from the mirepoix in the cleaned pan and set over medium-high heat.

    Mix the flour with salt and pepper, and coat the piece of meat in a thin layer of seasoned flour, tapping away the excess.

    When the fat starts foaming, sear the meat on all sides until dark brown.

    Set the meat aside and deglaze the pan with the remaining wine, including the glass we deglazed the mirepoix with.
    If you’re feeling fancy, carefully flambé the wine over low heat to remove the alcohol. I almost always skip this step at home.

    Marinate the meat

    Take the pan off the heat. Add the crushed tomatoes and the mirepoix, along with the herbs, spices, citrus, and pork belly bits, stir well. Then carefully add the seared meat.

    Cover with a lid and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or up to two days. The longer you live it the better the flavours; although I’ve been more than happy with daube that had only marinated for a couple of hours.

    Cook the daube

    Set the oven to 130°C/fan 110°C.
    Place the pan with the lid on, in the oven and bake for 6 to 8 hours, until the meat feels very tender.

    Make the sauce

    Very gently remove the meat from the cooking liquid using a large slotted spoon and place on a plate. Refrigerate until fully set.

    Pass the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, quickly clean the pan, then return the cooking liquid to the pan and add the veal stock.
    Bring to the boil and reduce by half.

    Take off the heat and reserve in the fridge for up to 2 days.

    On the day

    Divide the meat into 6 portions, and if you want, pan fry them in butter until caramelised on all sides.

    Place the meat, along with the sauce and garnish into a cast iron pan, and reheat over low heat or in a 140°C oven for around 1 hour, or until warmed through.
    Baste the meat every now and then to keep it from drying.

    When ready, serve immediately with mashed potatoes or fresh pasta, and sprinkle with sliced parsley.

    Links

    – Find this same recipe on Foodism and on the Caterer.

    – A more traditional daube de boeuf, by Chavot.

    * I was extremely happy to hear that Chavot has now taken over the kitchens of Bob Bob Ricard, which I will definitely visit o our next London trip, whenever it may come. You can find a lovely interview here.

    – Chef Chavot’s Instagram