It’s still very much winter here in Skellefteå. In fact, we’ve had a blizzard over the weekend; snow, at times twirling around with the winds; and at other times, falling almost horizontally. A western under the snow. Not unlike the Dyonisos album that lullabied my teenage years.
Oh love me, Oh kiss me,
I’m lying on western under the snow
You’re the sky of my heart
So come to me and take off your clouds
But there’s been something different in the air. It might have started on a Monday, almost a month ago.
There are the birds. And a sun warmer and brighter than it’s been for months. There are the morning walks by the river. And the temperatures that have risen from -26°C to -10°C.
Today, we opened our windows as the sun rose – the crisp air filled our flat while we were safely nested under the duvet. A make-believe spring of some kind. Something only we know; or perhaps, something only we make up.
Not much has happened in our kitchen. Dinners made of glass noodle salad with barely-warm roasted salmon. A few nights made of crispy rice and red wine. And Kalle’s wonderful breakfasts; the latest edition involving tomato sauce with plenty of onion and garlic, golden-brown bacon, eggs – with a yolk runny as it should be, perhaps some beans too. But most importantly, the råg or vete-kakor [soft polar bread] that he cuts into four and fry in the rendered bacon fat until almost burnt.
You’d also find a glass-jarful of biscuits on the counter. Sometimes, drömmar or syltkakor; but mostly our favourite cinnamon shortbreads.
And just like we were in love with a crispy cinnamon biscuit recipe last year (which you should try too as they’re on the opposite spectrum of the shortbreads I’m showing you today), 2016 has been about kanelkakor.
Our favourite cinnamon shortbreads
Adapted from Leila Lindholm’s A Piece of Cake.
In Swedish, these shortbreads are called spröda kanelkakor; literally brittle cinnamon biscuits. And they are just that. Crisp and golden. With cinnamon just so. And when bitten, they’ll crumble into tiny morsels.
I like to bake them until golden-brown, which would be considered an offense by any Swedish mormor [grand-mother]. Yes, here, most biscuits are likely to be baked into the palest shade of gold; when the base just starts to brown around the edge.
But no matter how far north I now live, you can’t take the French in me away from deep-caramel tones.
The original recipe calls for a tablespoon of water, which I of course replaced with vanilla extract. Yes, vanilla never is a bad idea. And yes, you can forever-quote me on that.
The dough itself comes together in a minute or so. And perhaps, that’s why we’ve baked these shortbreads more than any other over the winter.
And although the recipe rightfully suggests to leave the dough wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge for at least an hour before baking, I haven’t found it necessary when I used cold butter. However, if your kitchen temperature exceeds 18°C, I’d recommend going ahead with this step to make sure your shortbreads won’t spread too much.
Our favourite cinnamon shortbreads
Makes 12 larges biscuits or 16 smaller ones.
For the dough
225 g plain flour
75 g icing sugar
60 g potato starch
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
225 g cold butter, cut into 0.5cm cubes
For the eggwash
one egg, beaten
For the cinnamon sugar
100 g granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Line two baking trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 175°C (165°C for a fan-assisted oven).
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until it forms a dough.
Roll the dough into a log and cut it into either 12 or 16 even slices, depending on the size you want your shortbreads to be.
Roll each slice into a ball, then flatten it onto the prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining slices.
Press a fork into each shortbread, then brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 24 minutes, or until golden-brown. Allow to cool down completely before placing them into an airtight box. These will keep for at least a week; although they’ve never lasted this long in our home.