If you sat on the windowsill, here with me – yes, right now – you’d see many things around us. The stars and advent candles, fluttering in every house. The snow, covering roofs till the horizon and further.
In my kitchen – and I suspect many others – saffran, pepparkakor, lingon och mandel [saffron, gingerbread, lingon berries and almonds] pervade the air in the way only they can. And we’d watch bullar rise under the yellow glow of the oven lamp, spitting butter and oozing with marzipan just so.
Yes, it’s time to start baking with saffron, although I might have possibly started a couple of weeks ago.
And if you’d ever ask me, I’d possibly urge you to start too; most likely with my absolute favourite buns: saffransbullar med mandelmassa.
We have stars glowing by our windows. And snow when we look over the roofs of Skellefteå.
We have a batch of saffron, almond and orange biscotti in the oven. And one of pepparkaksdeg [gingerbread biscuit dough] in the making: there is cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves infusing in water, along with butter too of course! And soon the dough will come together.
We have two cups of glögg on the table. With almonds and raisins just so.
Yes, a little earlier today, I unwrapped each of the wonderful little cups that I had excessively wrapped in newspaper a few months ago after we had found them at a loppis [garage sale] in Dalarna over the summer.
I remember that day; still early in the morning, we stumbled across the largest collection of Duralex tableware outside of my grand-mère’s house. It was at the small green house that stands on Orsa’s centre square, where we’d ventured on the promise of a gammaldagsmarknad [olden day market]. Of the excursion, these cups and many others are the only things that followed us; like a reminder of a past I find myself recollecting more and more often. And just like the ones I grew up with, I now hope to grow older with them too.
Everytime I come around here, a whole season has gone by.
There was summer and its endless hours in the kitchen that I now call home. But before we knew it, the time for semester [holidays] came. And went.
Two weeks in our stuga [cabin] in the middle of the woods; and I still stand by my words when I say Åsen is my dream place. A dream that – this time – we shared with my family who traveled the three-thousand kilometres between us.
We picked blåbär [blueberries] and lingon; and my father – who’d never been this up north ever before – spent a day teaching me where to find mushrooms in the Swedish forests, reminiscing the mornings we’d busied up in the lower Alps more than twenty years ago now. We picked mostly giroles, but also ceps and chanterelles, although it was still a little early in the season for the latter.
We visited the small factory where the dalahäst we cherish so much are made, a short twenty minute drive from the stuga, in the heart of Dalarna. My mother bought more horses that she could – literally – handle; and the picture I took on my phone will always be a favourite memory of mine.
We baked traditional Swedish snittar and drömmar [biscuits] that now also have a strong following in a little house of the south of France.
Then came the golden days – that I must admit, I almost wrote as “goldays”, perhaps I am onto something – of autumn.
Long walks by the river to the sound of the wind through birch branches so tall it makes you dizzy. And no matter what, I will always be in love with the peculiar colour of a sun setting through these trees that are now a part of my universe.
There is the smell of rain. And dead leaves too. And of pumpkin roasting in the oven, just so. There is the first frost, which I had predicted to the day. Yes, to the day! And the rönnbär [Rowan berries] we picked and candied; a jar that will probably be forgotten at the back of the fridge for another few weeks before it makes an appearance on our table.
And rather unexpectedly, there was winter too.
The day after we’d moved to our new flat. The view of Skellefteå rooftops from our bed; one minute black as coal, the next covered in a thick mantle of snow. A snow that lasted for a week, even though back then, we did not know that just yet.
The following Sunday, we pulled the suspenders of our warm overalls up and wrapped ourselves in wool. A morning in the snow, and an afternoon by the kitchen stove. And somewhere in the middle, kladdkaka and wine were involved.
My Swedish kladdkaka recipe This is not a recipe I had planned to share with you, although it’s one that followed us through the seasons.
Served with barely whipped cream and freshly picked berries in the summer; roasted pears and vanilla ice-cream in the autumn, and now made in a cardboard box kitchen as we were unpacking the things we love enough to have taken along on the ride that took us here to the north of Sweden.
Yes, this kladdkaka recipe is just that. An everyday wonder; whipped up in less then ten minutes, it can be as fancy or as casual as you want it to be.
And today, I thought I’d test the halogen builders site light Kalle bought last year for me to be able to take pictures through our long winter. And that perhaps, you’d appreciate to have your Sunday fika sorted out for the weekend ahead.
In case you still have your doubts, you should know Sam’s – 3 year-old – stance on the subject: “De är jättekladdiga!” [They are very sticky*].
* A good thing since kladdkaka literally means “sticky cake”, although I have a feeling chewy would be more of an appropriate translation.
My Swedish kladdkaka recipe
Makes one 22cm cake, serving 8-10.
125 g unsalted butter
250 g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
90 g plain flour
40 g cocoa powder
5 g sea salt
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Butter and line a 22cm tin with baking paper.
Melt the butter in a pan set over medium heat.
Off the heat, add the sugars and allow the mixture to cool down slightly for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and mix until just smooth.
Pour the batter in the prepared tin, and bake for 25 minutes, or until domed and cracked on top. Allow to cool down completely before serving.