Et un jour en automne – Confiture de châtaignes

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Sunday 23 November 2014.

[And a day in autumn – Chestnut jam]

chestnut collection

There is one story. Of the made-up kind. The one I started to tell you – more than – a couple of weeks ago. And really, some of it is true.

It was a perfect autumn day. The first we’d had this year. That morning, I woke up early and made breakfast. As I was waiting for the kettle to boil – ground coffee in the french press, eggs boiling without a timer, the pink jumper that never leaves me these days – I thought about the chestnuts one of my friends found in Greenwich park earlier that week.

peeling chestnuts

We had breakfast in bed. With our coffee cups not-so-safely resting on a book, and perhaps, a few English muffin crumbs in the duvet.

And as K. left for work. I packed a not-so-neatly folded plastic bag in my purse. Warm boots. And wind-induced pink cheeks. Rode a driverless train. And before I knew it, I was gazing methodically up and down.

Up for leaves I would recognise. Down for almost-fluo green spiky balls.


I found a tree. And by any means, I think the squirrels found it first. And the worms too. A few chestnuts playing hide and seek in the grass. In the mud too.

But then, I spotted this trail of fallen treasures. And followed it.

A few hours later – hours made of this magical feel that only gathering can bring – the wrinkly plastic bag was then full with chestnuts. And I very well knew I would be making jam as soon as I got back home.

But the truth is that I now remember why I only make it every five years or so.


It’s a wonderland. Until you come home with that plastic-bag-full of chestnuts.

Yes, this is the other part of the story. The one that people-who-make-chestnut-jam never really tell you about.

The one in which you stand by the stove for hours. The one in which you burn your fingers and make your sink messy with chestnut skins. The one in which you pour the thick jam into glass jars that are too hot to touch.

But well, I can’t blame everyone else. Because once you get past the ultimate patience test and land three jar-ful of jam. You’ll be happy.

And forget about it all. Until the next time.

chestnut jam

Confiture de châtaignes
As I’ve just told you, making chesnut jam is messy. But damn, it’s amazing during those cold months, when nothing else but crêpes layered with it and a fat dollop of vanilla ice-cream will do.

If your chestnuts are anything like mine – home of little worms – a quick way to find out the intruders is to plunge the chestnuts in cold water. Any that floats is either empty or wormy (is that even a word?).
When it comes to cooking the jam, the amount of water you add needs to be enough to cook the chestnuts through. I don’t have a standard amount, and since you’ll be reducing the jam to 104°C, it doesn’t really matter as you’ll always be left with the same water content when you reach that teperature, regardless of whether 1 or 2L of water have been added (only the cooking time will be different – the more water, the longer).

Confiture de châtaignes

makes 3 x 300g jars

1 kg chestnuts, with the skin on

Start by scoring the chestnuts using a small knife. Then place under running cold water. Discard all the ones that float and place the rest in a large pan of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, and peel the hot chestnuts one by one.

750 g peeled chestnuts
3 vanilla pods
550 g granulated sugar

Place the peeled chestnuts in a large pan, along with the seeds from 3 vanilla pods. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft. Add the caster sugar and handblend until smooth.

Cook this paste over low heat until it reaches 104°C.

Pour into sterilised jars and screw the lids back on. Turn the jars upside-down and allow to cool down completely before refrigerating.

What are your favourite recipes to make with chestnut jam? I was thinking of making a loak cake, replacing half the sugar by the chestnut jam. More to follow… In the meantime, dearest chestnuts, see you in five years ;)


The sound of the forest – Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 13 August 2014.


gluten free chocolate cake bite

I wish you were here with me. Sat on the patio. There is a wooden table which I’ve slowly taken over: notes, drawings of mushrooms, a mug holding watercolour brushes, a mismatch of cameras, and a cup of coffee hotter than what I would normally fancy.

From where I sit, I can see the logs Karl brought from the little shelter down in the garden on the same wheelbarrow we used to collect the hay that his father – Svante – cut on the day we arrived. They’re neatly piled and possibly enough to keep the fire going for a good week.

gluten free chocolate cake

There is two pairs of rain boots – my new favourite, as they will take me anywhere.

And then, there is the forest. All around us.

This morning, we saw the same hare I fell in love with yesterday. Hopefully, he’ll stick around here a little longer. Svante told me he probably had his eyes on the apple tree that stands right in the middle of the garden.
But secretly, I think we’ve become some sort of wild friends.

Yes, right now, I wish you were here with me. Listening to the sound of the forest after a rainstorm.
It’s, perhaps, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. The lightest raindrops hitting the moss. The cracking branches. The birds’ songs, and the happy merry-go-round of bumblebees. The wind going through soaked leaves.


The house is quiet. Aside from an old timer ticking seconds like others tick boxes.

You see, I have a gluten-free chocolate cake in the oven – hopefully cold enough by the time the boys will come back from their fishing expedition. The kind where coffee gets boiled over a bonfire and knee-high neoprene boots make you belong to the river. The kind where, when Karl will be here, he’ll smell of burning wood and will have too many stories to share.

And just like the house smelled wonderful yesterday as I was baking kanelbullar. It now smells of chocolate. And rain.

gluten free chocolate cake slice

choc cake recipes

Now a few hours later, I went to pick – tiny – hallon [raspberries] by the pond. And all the times Karl told me to check for worms inside the berries finally made sense.

I cut myself a thick slice of the still-warm cake, fudgy around the rim and slighty gooey in the centre. And with a handful of my rather small bounty and a tall glass of filmjölk, it was just as delicious as I had hoped for.


Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

You could make this cake with ground almonds only, but I couldn’t resist to try the gluten-free oat flour I found at the supermarket a few days ago.
The process is very simple. Not unlike a classic fondant cake.

The eggs and sugar get whisked together for a few minutes, until the sugar has almost dissolved. Then the melted chocolate and butter get folded in. And finally the flours. A quick trip in the oven; and voilà!

Gluten-free chocolate fondant cake

200 g 70% dark chocolate
250 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
250 g caster sugar
50 g ground almonds
40 g GF self-raising oat flour
8 g sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and generously butter a 26cm cake tin.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter; either in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar for around 4 minutes, or until fluffy and almost doubled in size. You don’t want to overdo it, it’s just a matter of dissolving the sugar.

Fold in the chocolate mixture, mixing well. And finally add the ground almonds, oat flour and salt. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 24-28 minutes, until barely jiggling in the very centre of the cake.

Allow to cool down completely before slicing. Or scoop while warm, like I did.

Pommes de terre

MemoriesA story about , , Written on le Sunday 10 August 2014.


svante potatis

Tonight, we dug potatoes (but really, doesn’t their French name imply so much more: earth apples) from the ground.

They’re being boiled. And bacon and falukorv are being fried in a cast iron pan that has probably seen many and manier. Eggs are cooking.

And just like this pyttipanna will happen for dinner.