Bonjour mai (and a wonderful book giveaway)

bonjour-may

Believe it or not (I’m still positive on the latter), there was a snowstorm a week ago. And although I’ve rather successfully survived my first winter in the north of Sweden, I must admit that I had never seen so much snow in one day. Ever. Before.

A few rainy nights later, there is very little left of the winter on our roads and forest. And I might go as far as thinking that spring has – perhaps – started. A little.

In fact, we stood by a massive bonfire last night; one that gets lit up every year on Valborg to celebrate the end of winter. We laid a wool-plaid on the grass, and sat there, with a beer and the warmth from a sun higher than it’s been in a long time.
As it slowly set behind the trees, we could hear the soft crackling of the fire, the laughs of children having too much fun, and the lullaby of geese flying north over our heads.

The not-so-official May happy list
1. Rhubarb has been slowly arriving to our market stalls here in Sweden, and really, I’m ready to say farewell to äpple paj and welcome the ones of the rabarber kind.
2. All the trees and bushes have started blossoming. And if it’s anything like it was last year, it’s about to be spectacular.
3. I have a batch of brioche proofing in my fridge right now. Yes, the brioche study feature is still going strong!
4. I’ve fallen in love with many blogs lately: Sweet & Bitters, A better happier San Sebastian, and 600 Acres amongst others.
5. And I’m longing for Patoumi to write more. Her words sound like magic to me.
6. We’ve been going fishing a lot in the evening, which means kokkaffe gets made everytime. Our current favourite is Lemmel kaffe but I’ve just gotten some freshly grounded Johan & Nyström coffee beans and I cannot wait to try them by the river.
7. Although I know it’s coming, I can’t help but be amazed by how fast the days are getting longer. The sun is setting at around 9pm these days, and soon we’ll have the midnight sun to keep us company at night.
8. I’ve been obsessing over Sydneystyle cakes as I call them. So much that I think they need to happen in our kitchen too!
9. And while we’re on the subject of cake decorating, I have a wonderful book giveaway for you: Cakeology by Juliet Sear (read more below).
10. I’ve been wanting to start a newsletter since I’ve found myself drawn less and less to my RSS reader and more to the many inspiring emails I’ve subscribed to. Fingers crossed!

Cakeology by Juliet Sear giveaway




As soon as I read the name, I knew I would love this book. It has amazingly-decorated cakes that I’ll probably never make – insert long rant about time passing by too fast – even though many have landed on my to-do list, including the stunning framed insect cakelets that found a place in my heart and hopefully, will do too in my kitchen.
In fact, I’m planning on making Juliet’s vanilla bean sponge tomorrow and decorate it with layers of meringue buttercream, which you might get a glimpse of this week.

But really, the chapters I loved the most, aside from the great inspiration Juliet’s decorating projects provide, are the ones at the end of the book: the basics and the ground recipes.
Yes, you can get me out of the kitchen, but never away from the basics. Here, they take the form a list of technical terms and techniques, including splitting a cake in half, filling and covering it with buttercream and sugarpaste, and decorating with royal icing.

I bookmarked the page where a beautiful diagram describes how much cake batter to use depending on the size of your tin. A real keeper, even more so as a pastry chef.

I enjoyed reading this book so much I thought you would too, so I asked Hardie Grant for a giveaway copy, which I’m more than excited for you to receive.
To enter the giveaway, simply subscribe to our newsletter (if you already are, simply skip to step 2) and leave a comment on this post telling me more about what you’d like to see in the newsletter. How often would you like to receive it; a monthly digest or everytime I post on my blog? Which kind of content: giveaway previews, exclusive recipes, little everyday stories, blog-posts sneak-peek?

This giveaway is open worldwide until the 14th of May 2016. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email, so make sure to enter a valid address.

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1. Subscribe to our newsletter

2. Leave a comment below telling me more about what you’d like to see in the newsletter

How often would you like to receive it; a monthly digest or everytime I post on my blog? Which kind of content: giveaway preview, exclusive recipes, little everyday stories?

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you so much for your wonderful input! I hope you’ll like the newsletter!
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Recipe studies: Brioche

brioche control 1 2-5

Every few weeks or so, we’ll explore another aspect of the science behind brioche; from the study of the impact of the egg to milk ratio in the dough, to techniques and further questions.

Follow the study here or on instagram: #BRIOCHESTUDY.

A list of posts, written or to be published:

  • A brioche study, part one: the approach
  • A brioche study, part two: the method (ingredient list, pastry chef tips and techniques on brioche)
  • A brioche study, recipe: brioche #1, the control
  • A brioche study, recipe: brioche #2, the almost Chavot-brioche
  • A brioche study, recipe: brioche #3, the pain au lait
  • A brioche study, recipe: brioches #4 and #5
  • A brioche study, part three: impact of the egg-to-milk ratio in rich doughs.
  • A brioche study, ressources: Brioche in literature.

Other themes may include: research on flour protein variations, how to knead brioche by hand…

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Morning snow – Fromage blanc cake

fromage blanc cake-2

There was a day spent in the garden. A rake in the hands, and dead leaves piled high on a wheelbarrow. That day, the sun was high and warm, just like the two eagles we’d seen earlier, right after sunrise.

The following morning was an entirely different story. A story made of snowflakes and a crackling fireplace. Both lasted all day, for the record.
I baked the sourdough bread that I had left to proof on the porch overnight. And although it turned out to be much too big for my cast-iron pot, it was restlessly devoured while still warm, with only a few slices left for the next day.

I painted too. A dalahäst. Although I still need to draw on top of the watercolours, using ink, just like I always do.
And in the afternoon, when it became clear we wouldn’t leave the house, I whipped egg whites and folded them into fromage blanc, to make the one cake that might have possibly been baked weekly in my kitchen for a little over ten years, which I’ve yet to tell you about.

morning 2

dala horse

morning

snow

fromage blanc cake

fromage blanc cake

Fromage blanc cake

This recipe is a classic case of natural selection.
What started with the words tarte au fromage blanc, hastily written with a not-so-steady hand over twenty years ago has slowly turned into a cake – a term close enough, yet, hardly accurately describes the wonder that it really is.

All it took, really, was to remove the pâte brisée base. And just like that, many childhood memories resurfaced. The tourteau fromagé du Poitou; the burnt crust, the pâte brisée I would leave out in favour of the insane texture of this fresh goat’s cheese “cake”. And perhaps also, the soft cake that came from a cardboard box at the supermarket; halfway between a mousse and a cheesecake.

And maybe that’s what I should call it: Fromage blanc French cheesecake. But then, it’d sound much more flamboyant that what it is.
Because it is not. It’s a plain, slightly sour from the fromage blanc (however, Greek yoghurt makes and excellent substitute) and warm with vanilla (by any mean, please use homemade vanilla sugar) cake.
If eaten piping hot from the oven, it’s the softest thing you’ve ever had. And in the morning, after a night spent on the kitchen counter, it becomes firm and yet delicate; a form, which is without a doubt my favourite.

You could also add the zest from a lemon or an orange. Or fold in a light jam right before you pour the batter into its tin. I often don’t. For the sake of its plain, unpretentious character.

fromage blanc cake-4

Fromage blanc cake

Serves 8-10

4 eggs, separated
a pinch of salt
100 g caster sugar
500 g fromage blanc or Greek yoghurt
100 g cornflour or plain flour
30 g vanilla sugar

Preheat the oven to 175°C (185°C for traditional ovens). Butter and line the bottom of a 22cm cake pan with baking paper, and set aside.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until foamy. Add half the sugar and keep on whisking until they reach hard peaks.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the fromage blanc, cornflour and vanilla sugar.
Then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the meringue until barely smooth: it’s absolutely fine to still have bits of egg whites in the finished batter.

Transfer to your prepared tin, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until well-domed and golden-brown. The top might have cracked a little and it should feel firm to the touch.

Allow the cake to cool down to room temperature in its tin, then unmould onto a plate. Serve dusted with icing sugar or with berries, just brought to the boil with a spoonful of caster sugar.

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