On fields of frost, counting to Christmas and a green smoothie

winter

winter-2

winter-3

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Stories from the recent past:
I’ve finally developed my last two rolls of film, which had some pictures I took back in London! You can see two of them above.

The first, taken in Chislehurst, when Kalle and I decided to take the train and stop at a random station. We ended up spending the day at a small pub there, cosying up by a fireplace, and with a few mulled ciders on our table.

The second was taken when my friend Eliot took me to the smallest Vietnamese restaurant for a pho right before K. and I left for Sweden. We walked past Yauatcha on our way back and ended up buying a few pastries, which got eaten on the big stone stairs right behind Carnaby street.

The last picture was taken in Kusmark, by the outdoor fireplace on the hill that overlooks the river, where someone had collected pinecones in a jar. There was something oddly nostalgic about it. But the next time we went, they were gone, so I think I might never find out why.

This morning, we had the first frost that lasted past six am. It was wonderful to walk by the river, crunchy leaves – that glisten with every sun ray – under our boots. Now a little over eleven hours later, the temperature has – again – dropped to -3°C. I have wool socks on my feet and fairy lights turned on by the window. A song about fields of gold has been in my head since the morning and a cup of tea, that’s too hot to drink but never too hot for my fingers to be wrapped around.

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Yes, it’s about to be my very first full winter in Sweden and really, I think I’ve never embraced the cold as much as I currently do. I still need to explore the causes – within and around me – of this autumnal-bliss feel, but right now, I’m making the most of every moment.

As a result of the recent temperature shift, I have started to count day until Christmas, which for the first time – I know for sure – will be spent under the snow.

I remember that growing up in the south of France, my sister – Aïda – and I made wishes every Christmas eve for a snowfall to happen overnight. It did. Once.
And of course, la Côte d’Azur being as such, the snowflakes melted as soon as they hit the ground. Now, the only wish I have for Christmas is for my family to be able to come and visit me in the winter, perhaps next year so we can discover the Swedish Christmas traditions. The ones I don’t know yet but that Kalle told me about: St Lucia, the advent, the candles, the lussekatter [saffron buns], and many more.

Also, I might or might have not bought too many vintage glass Christmas ornaments. However, is there such a thing as having too many Christmas ornaments?

My absolute favourite breakfast these days is a smoothie. It has banana, almond milk, young spinach leaves and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Sometimes, I’ll add a handful of oats or a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Sometimes, I’ll drop a few of the raspberries we picked over the summer – and that I froze into small plastic bags exactly for this purpose. Most of the time, I like to have it as it is.

smoothie

Banana, almond milk, spinach and cinnamon smoothie

makes 1 big smoothie

1 banana
250 mL almond milk
a handful of spinach
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Blitz all the ingredients until smooth. Drink while watching the frost melt as the sun rises.

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My ultimate kanelbullar, un peu comme des brioches

[My ultimate kanelbullar, not unlike cinnamon brioches]

kanelbullar

Tomorrow is the 4th of October. A date that doesn’t go unnoticed in Sweden. Yes, tomorrow is kanelbullens dag [cinnamon roll day].
I must have felt that this post – which I promised to share with you long before I even knew kanelbullar had their own day – was waiting in my drafts for a reason.

This is a recipe I first made in Åsen, the summer before last. I kneaded the dough in the evening, as we came back from a day by the lake. And by the time breakfast was ready the next morning, the buns had proofed and were ready to go in the oven for a mid-morning fika.

Later that day, I realised we’d forgotten my camera charger in Kusmark so I ended up taking some pictures using the film camera Kalle gave me.

We rushed on the road to Mora – through the forests and the bridge that goes over the lake, through the little stress I’ve come to cherish and the rails by which we always get to see a train pass by – to bring the roll to the only lab we knew of.

And because it was not fully exposed, I quickly took a few pictures of what was around me. In fact, the one below – of Kalle – is, to this day, one of my favourites.
Yes, it’s not without a certain sense of both love and reserve that I’m proud to tell you that my 79th roll of film has pictures of bullar, one of K., one of the sky, and one of flowers. The dream roll?

mora

But let go back to that morning. When I rolled the dough and topped it with a thick layer of cinnamon butter. I don’t always say this, but salted butter really does wonder here.
Yes, that morning, is to be forever remembered. The table covered in a thick layer of white paint. And the blue chairs around it. The spitting sound of the fire in the wood stove. This is where I learnt how to roll kanelbullar.

kanelbulle

A year has passed since then – days made of snow and walk through leafless trees, a spring that only lasted a second and a summer that is now starting to turn into autumn. Many more bullar have been rolled. At home. At the café.

And while my rolling techniques have definitely improved, the recipe has received only a few tweaks. That’s how much I’m in love with it. And I hope you will be too.

kanelbullar-film

Kanelbullar, un peu comme des brioches

I love my bullar to be soft and fluffy, so instead of using a traditional recipe (which I always find slightly dry), I go for a cross between a doughnut and a brioche dough.

Although I’ve shared a recipe for kanelbullar in the past, these ones are different. They are my favourites. The ones I make at home and freeze into small plastic containers, ready to be thrown into a lunchbox or popped in the microwave for an almost-instant fika. The ones I make everyday at the café too (when I’m not off – and for the first time in a long time, I shall say: YES to the weekends).

The other ones were of the spur-of-the-moment kind. Made late, during our last night in Sweden the first time we visited. Eaten by Byske river, just a few hours before our flight back to London. They had whole wheat flour and I remember how long it took to develop the gluten by hand.
I also remember how wonderful it was to unwrap the not-so-neatly folded foil and dip them into a forever-hot cup of kokkaffe.

Making a sticky dough by hand is always a challenge; it takes time, a good scraper and hands being cleaned every so often. But trust me, I’ve done it many times and it doesn’t only produce beautiful results, it’s also wonderfully relaxing.

knotting-kanelbullar

EDIT 5 October

After a few of you reported butter leakage, I’ve noticed I had missed a modification, which I made a few months ago: I now use a reduced amount of butter in the dough – 130g instead of 200g; a leaner dough absorbs the butter better, but I couldn’t remember why I had reduced it as I love the texture of the buns made with 200g of butter so much!
Thank you for your feedback! Also, make sure the bullar are proofed until doubled in size before baking them. It takes around 2 hours at 24°C but can take 3-4 hours if the room temperature is colder. Lots of love and sorry for the caramelised cinnamon butter :(

EDIT 6 October

I’ve tried both batches today, with 130g and 200g butter. While I love the texture of the buns with 200g of butter, they do leak during baking; a quick fix, if you’re after melt-in-your-mouth bullar, is to bake them in muffin paper-cases so you won’t end up with a puddle.
As for the batch with 130g of butter, they’re a bit lighter and almost no butter leak :) Sending you all my cinnamon-love X

Kanelbullar, un peu comme des brioches

makes around 14-16

for the dough

530 g strong flour
70 g caster sugar
16 g fresh yeast
10 g sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs
(150 g)
190 g whole milk
130 g to 200 g (read note/edit above) unsalted butter
, at room temperature

for the cinnamon butter

250 g salted butter, at room temperature
170 g caster sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom

for the topping

1 egg, beaten, to glaze
a handful of pearl sugar

for the syrup

75 g caster sugar
75 g water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a clean work surface and knead by hand for around 20 minutes – if you’re making the dough in a stand-mixer, fit it with the hook attachment and knead on medium speed for around 10 minutes, until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl and feels: – smooth, elastic and barely tacky. If you take a small piece of dough, you should be able to stretch it into a very thin membrane.

Add the butter in three or four times – if making by hand; if you’re using a stand mixer, add the butter, one small piece at a time continuously until all the butter is in – and knead it in. The dough will “split” as you do so and butter will smear over your work surface, but keep on adding butter until it’s all used. Then knead the dough until smooth again. Place in a large bowl, and clingfilm to the touch.

You could proof the dough for 1 hour at room temperature and then place it in the fridge for at least another hour before using it, or refrigerate straight away for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

The next day, get two baking trays ready by lining then with baking paper. Make the cinnamon butter by mixing all the ingredients until smooth and spreadable.

Slightly flour your work bench and tip the dough over. Roll into a 30 x 60 cm rectangle, around 5-6mm thick, with the short end facing you. Spread the cinnamon butter evenly over the dough. Then fold the dough into three, first the top part over the centre, then the bottom (and closest to you) over the rest. You should be left with a 30 x 20 cm-ish rectangle.

Cut 2cm wide strips and roll each into a knot (as shown above), and place it on the prepared baking tray. Keep on going until all the strips are rolled.

Cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to proof for a couple of hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 185°C.
Brush the top of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a wire-rack using a palette knife and allow to cool down slightly.

For extra shiny buns, brush the top of your just-baked bullar with a simple syrup made of equal quantity of sugar and water brought to the boil.

Glad kanelbullens dag!

kanelbulle-2

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Chasing rugbrød, part one

autumn-danskt-ragbrod

We waked, in the two cabins in those happy days, just before the sun came up, when the birds were in their loudest clamor of morning joy. Wrapped each in a blanket, George and I stepped out from our doors, each trying to call the other, and often meeting on the grass between. We ran to the river and plunged in,—oh, how cold it was!—laughed and screamed like boys, rubbed ourselves aglow, and ran home to build Polly’s fire beneath the open chimney which stood beside my cabin. The bread had risen in the night. The water soon boiled above the logs. The children came laughing out upon the grass, barefoot, and fearless of the dew. Then Polly appeared with her gridiron and bear-steak, or with her griddle and eggs, and, in fewer minutes than this page has cost me, the breakfast was ready for Alice to carry, dish by dish, to the white-clad table on the piazza. Not Raphael and Adam more enjoyed their watermelons, fox-grapes, and late blueberries! And, in the long croon of the breakfast, we revenged ourselves for the haste with which it had been prepared.

Edward Everett Hale (1869), The Brick Moon, and Other Stories

If I came to you today with the perfect recipe for rugbrød – which I’ve come to know as danskt rågbröd, literally, Danish rye bread – then I think this story would have no point in being told.

It might have started on our way to Lövnas. We stopped in the closest town, an hour or so away from the cabin, at the small supermarket facing the gas station. And although I was still dozy from our trip, I remember – with an unusual crispness – picking a small bag, much heavier than it looked, dark and packed with seeds, with five or six thin slices of danskt rågbröd.
I didn’t think much about it then. Not that it would send me into a relentless search for my favourite homemade rugbrød or that it would be the start of many months (and possibly years, although it’s something I can’t say just yet) of breakfast tartines.

I also remember Kalle putting two yoghurt cartons in our basket. Perhaps, because they read körsbär [cherry], but more plausibly, because they were called fjäll [mountain], a word I’d heard – and not quite understood – when Kalle spoke it. “Vi ska åka till fjällen”.

The next morning, we had our first breakfast at the cabin. And while everyone else could only think about what they’d top their bread with, I was studying my deep-dark slice of rågbröd.

Yes, nobody talks about the bread. The foundation of a tartine, really.
That one had the colour of wood bark and the smell of roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Whole rye berries barely held together with a sour rye dough. And linseeds dotted throughout.
The very same that created the obsession I have for rågbröd.

danskt ragbrod

Danish rye bread #1
Adapted from Baktips.

As I’ve told you earlier, I’m not coming today with a perfect recipe. More of the first part of a long study. Eventually, I’d love to be able to make a danskt rågbröd that’s packed with more rye berries than dough, feels moist yet crunchy and has lovely dark-brown undertone.

Today’s experiment was delicious. In fact, I could only take a picture a few days after I’d baked it and right before it had been devoured.
I’m not quite happy with how light the crumb came but I made the very stupid decision to bake mine at 150°C (a wrong educated guess as I assumed the baking would be the same as for a filmjölksbröd – my favourite! but I digress) – so I think I’ll definitely have to try the same recipe again with a higher temperature and perhaps a longer baking time as since then, I’ve read tales of breads baked for as long as twelve hours.

PS. Maman si tu lis cet article, je pense que tu aimerais ce pain!

Danish rye bread #1

Makes one loaf.

For the soaker:

215 g cracked rye
100 g sunflower seeds
20 g linseeds
200 g water
50 g sourdough

For the dough:

All of the soaker (above)
100 g sourdough
170 g water
10 g fresh yeast
130 g pumpkin seeds
10 g salt
160 g plain flour
40 g rågsikt or rye flour

On the night before the day you’re planning to bake your bread, combine all the ingredients for the soaker; cover losely with clingfilm and allow to rest overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, butter and line a 1.5L loaf tin with baking paper.

Add the remaining ingredients (making sure to dissolve the yeast into the water, as the dough doesn’t get kneaded) to the soaker and mix well until smooth. Depending on your flour you might need to add a little more water (or less). The dough will have the consistence of a runny batter, almost like a cake batter with oats inside.

Scrape the dough into the prepared loaf tin and proof at room temperature for 2 hours.

About an hour into the proofing, preheat your oven to 250°C (and now, it will differ from what I did – bake at 150°C, which was silly and really, don’t do it! – I’m leaving the original baking instructions even though I haven’t tried for myself).

After 2 hours, brush the top of your loaf with water and bake at 250°C for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 50 minutes or until dark-brown and a probe inserted into the centre of the loaf reads 98°C.

As soon as the loaf comes out from the oven, place inside a plastic bag or wrap in clingfilm and let it cool down for at least 6 hours before cutting the loaf into thin slices. My topping of choice is butter, flaky sea salt and radis!

The recipe.

As this is a straightforward dough and all I want to highlight for personal reference is the ratio of ingredients, the percentages shown below are not bakers’ percentages, but composition percentages.
I had to add an extra 70g of water (in reference to the recipe linked above) as the finished dough seemed on the drier side. And I also left out the raisins (might want them next time) and walnuts – as I didn’t have any at home then.

Danish rye bread #1, overall formula

Weight IngredientPercentages
215gcracked rye18%
100gsunflower seeds8%
20glinseeds2%
370gwater31%
150gsourdough12%
10gfresh yeast1%
130gpumpkin seeds11%
10gsalt1%
160gplain flour13%
40grågsikt3%
Total
1205g

Just a few numbers for keepsake:
– 25% flour
– 18% cracked rye
– 12% sourdough
– 19% seeds (without linseeds)
– 2% linseeds

The ingredients.

The recipe calls for ingredients that might be slightly hard to come across outside of Scandinavia (really, I have no idea, let me know in the comments if you’ve ever seen it), like rågsikt [sifted rye flour], which is a flour blend made of 60% wheat flour and 40% finely milled and sifted rye flour.
I used the ICA eco rågsikt and also ICA vetemjöl in place in plain flour.

In case you don’t have any rågsikt available near you, I suggest using 100% rye flour – something I’m planning on trying next time I make this recipe.

The timing.

With the addition of yeast, this recipe is almost instant (if you don’t account for the soaker).

Day minus 3: Two or three days before you want to bake, take out your sourdough from the fridge (if that’s where you keep it, in case you feed it/bake everyday, then jump to the next step!) and feed it twice a day at 12 hour-intervals.

Day 1 (evening): Mix the ingredients for the soaker. Let to rest at room temperature overnight.

Day 2 (morning):
– Add the remaining ingredients and scrape the batter into a 1.5L loaf tin.
– Fermentation = at room temperature, for around 2 hours.
– Brush the top of the loaf with water.
– Bake.

Notes.

– I need to find the “right” baking settings for this bread as I’d like its crumb to be darker and also perhaps slightly chewier. Maybe increase the amount of rye berries, add malt extract?
– As mentioned above, I’d like to try this recipe again using rye flour instead of rågsikt. And raisins too!

Ressources.

– A video, which shows the texture of the finished dough and the process of making rugbrød in Denmark. I might try the recipe next time too – if you wanna join me in #chasingrugbrød!

The table of Danish rye bread elements.

– About rye (wikipedia).

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