Sunday, 17 February 2013

Semlor and a very Swedish weekend

I have had a very Swedish themed weekend. Sweden was furtherest from my mind when the weekend started out but I am now jealously looking at photos of Stockholm and imagining myself strolling down the Swedish snow flecked street, ruby cheeked, popping into a Swedish bakery for a cinnamon bun and a coffee. 

I have wanted to make Semlor for months after happening across a recipe while researching Swedish cinnamon buns. They are a sweet enriched cardamom flavoured yeast bread dough filled with marzipan and cream and are one of my favourite creations of the last few months. Light, scented and fluffy they are a beautiful Scandinavian treat. 

In other, but related news, I am moving to a new apartment next week. My first proper home in many ways. A home for me is a place that you bake and cook in, share and relax in. I could not really do any of those things in the places I lived in while at college so I am really excited about this new chapter I am starting. I went to Ikea today to pick up a few ideas and bits and pieces in anticipation of the move. I respect Ikea as a brand that not only embraces its nationality but uses it as a seminal marketing tool. Ikea is Swedish all over, from the food to the names of the items on sale. I picked up some loganberry jam so I can make proper Swedish meatballs next week as well as some adorable decorations for the kitchen and living room. I can't wait to get settled in and make it a proper home. 

Adapted from
Makes approx 9

350g strong white flour
70g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom (break open the pod using the flat of a knife and grind the seeds)
pinch of salt
75g unsalted butter
175ml milk
1 sachet easy action yeast (7g)
1/2 egg beaten

1. Mix flour, sugar, cardamon, salt in  a bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Melt the butter gently and then add the milk. It probably won't need much heat to bring it to lukewarm. Add the yeast and whisk gently.
2. Add the milk, butter and egg to the dry ingredients and mix throughly until a soft dough is formed.
3. Turn out on a floured counter and knead for 4 minutes. Turn back into a large bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for 1.5 hours to double in size.
4. Once the dough has risen punch the dough and turn out onto the counter. Divide the dough into nine. Each section should roughly weigh 80g. Roll into balls and put on a sheet of greaseproof paper. Cover with the clingfilm loosely and allow to rise up for 15-20 minutes. While rising heat the oven to 190oC.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Allow to cool.

For the filling 
100g marzipan, from the fridge
2-3 tbsp milk
250ml cream
2 tsp icing sugar

1. Grate the marzipan. Cute a triangular hole out of the top of each bun and scoop out the insides. Break the bread into breadcrumbs. Put in a bowl with the marzipan and add the milk to make a paste.
2. Spoon the marzipan/breadcrumbs mix back into the buns.
3. Beat the cream and icing sugar in a bowl until stiff peaks form.
3. Pipe the cream on top of the triangular hole and then place the triangular piece on top.
4. Dust liberally with icing sugar.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Let's talk about how this ice cream rocks my not-always-matching-socks. Seriously no Haagen Daas, Ben & Jerry's or other luxury ice cream can hold a flame to this recipe. And I can that say while retaining modesty because this is not my own but rather Ina Garten's recipe (Three cheers for Ina). The caramel is sweet with that sneaky bam! of flaked sea salt. The ice cream base is smooth and slinky. I up-ed the sea salt quantity, as I felt it got fairly lost when it got mixed in with the vanilla ice cream. Omit it completely if you wish, no harm done.... other than a lost opportunity to savour the caramel/salt explosion, which is a type of harm in itself.

Is it a bit cold for ice cream? I thought about this before making it. Piffle, tut and other words of indignation- of course not! But if you are a cold blooded creature serve it with something warm like I did- chocolate malt bread and butter pudding, coming soon to a blog near you!!

For the ice cream base
1 cup whole milk
2 cups cream
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp flaky sea salt

1. Heat the milk over a medium heat in a pan until almost to a boil. Allow to cool slightly.
2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric beater until pale in colour. Add the milk in a stream from a height while continuously beating. Pour back into the pan and beat continuously until thickened, around 5 minutes.
3. Put through a strainer to remove any egg lumps and allow to cool for half hour. Add the cream and salt and allow to cool for many hours.

For the salted caramel
1 1/4 cups of sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp flaky sea salt

1. Heat the sugar in a pan over a medium heat. Don't use a non-stick pan, it will prevent caramelisation.
2. Stir at first until the sugar starts to melt then stop stirring. Allow to turn a dark amber colour.
3. Add the cream and be careful as it may sputter.
4. Strain if there are any lumps into a bowl and then add the sea salt. Put the bowl in an ice bath or inside a bigger bowl with very cold water. That will stop the caramel continuing to cook.
5. Once completely cold mix in with the ice cream base.
6. Use an ice cream maker to churn and then freeze overnight or if you don't have one put in a container in the freezer and give it a good mix every few hours to prevent crystallisation.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Lychee Macarons with an Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Ganache

"Love will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free..."
Mumford and Sons, Sigh no More 

Just thought I'd put that song lyric out there.... It's good isn't it? 

I am moving back to the city, embracing the adult world with nervous laughter and starting my first law-related "proper" job. Obviously I am going to have less time to bake. Currently I bake like I leisurely lunch, eating ingredients as I go, turning off the electric beaters when a song I like comes on the radio so I can sing along and generally wandering around the kitchen in aimless circles. In the future I might have to focus my mind a little more and be more organised with ingredients. 

Macarons are one bake that cannot be rushed. They need, hell they deserve plenty of attention while baking. See my macaron adventures here and here if you are looking for a reliable recipe and tips. 

So although I've been prolific in the baking of macarons in the last two weeks, I thought I'd have one last hurrah while I have the time this weekend. 

Lychee fruit come in tins from the Asian food store. They are floral and sweet with rose tones and nicely contrasted without being taken over by the bitter dark chocolate. I added earl grey flavour to the ganache to mirror that fragrance of the lychees. Bear in mind the lychees will make the macarons soft in the centre so eat on the day of making or the next day.

Earl Grey Ganache (enough to sandwich 40 macarons made with this recipe)- Inspired by the macarondiaries blog

200ml double cream
2 Earl Grey Teabags
200g dark chocolate

1. Heat the cream with the tea bags in a small pan over a medium heat until just below boiling. Keep poking at the tea bags until the earl grey flavour comes out, colouring the cream brown. When the cream comes to below boiling take out the teabags and squeez, let fall into the cream, take out and squeez again a few times.
2. Take off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth and melted. Leave to cool in the fridge for half hour.
3. Pipe a circle of macarons half a cm from the edge of one macaron. Slice a lychee in three and put one third in the centre of the circle. Top with the other macaron and press gently down.
4. Eat within 48 hours.