A Rocky Road Less Travelled

Rocky Road :: The Scandinavian Baker
Rocky Road, like trick-or-treating on Halloween, can be polarising. Some love it, others loathe it. I love both, and as a child I was desperate to try anything that was rocky road related; and hit the neighbourhood streets with my pals dressed as ghouls to replicate The E.T.-esque American-style trick or treating I’d witnessed at the cinema in the 80s. What an adventure.

Unfortunately for us, we were often met with perplexed expressions and whatever fruit was lying around in our neighbour’s kitchen. It wasn’t a ‘thing’ here.

Times have changed, and love it or loathe it, trick-or-treating is fast becoming the norm in the neighbourhoods of Australia.

This year I’m making up for those lost nights of October 31st and whipping up a treat that is sure to please even the scariest 8-year-old ghoul, and maybe their parents.

Singaporean Rocky Road :: The Scandinavian Baker

Two Rocky Roads from far away places

If you can’t bear the sickly sweet commercial marshmallow and cheap chocolate that is often found in store-bought rocky road, take the path less travelled and make the road your own.

My tribute to some of the flavours we’ve enjoyed travelling over the last year takes its form as Scandinavian Tundra and Singaporean Rocky Road.

Rocky Road :: The Scandinavian Baker

Scandinavian: Features dark chocolate with toasted almonds, spiced marshmallow, mulled wine jelly, gingerbread crumb and cardamom dusted pearl sugar.

The Pantry 

Chocolate: 400 grams (dark) 200 grams (milk)
1 half portion of Home Made Marshmallow
with mixed spices including ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper (recipe below)
Mulled Wine Jelly with cinnamon quills, cloves, star anise and cardamom seeds (recipe below)
Toasted almonds (chopped)
Gingerbread crumbs
Pearl sugar
Ground cardamom

Singaporean
: Features milk chocolate with crystallised ginger, roasted & salted peanut and chilli marshmallow, pandan and coconut cream sago pearls, coconut ganache, dried pineapple and toasted coconut flakes.

The Pantry 

Chocolate: 200 grams (white), 400 grams (milk)
1 half portion of Home Made Marshmallow
with roasted, salted peanuts (chopped) and dried chilli flakes (recipe below)
1 small can of coconut cream
Pandan essence (available from Asian food stores – often likened to Asia’s version of vanilla)
100 grams of dried sago pearls
Crystallised ginger
Dried pineapple
Toasted coconut flakes

Begin by preparing the fillings for the rocky road. You may wish to start this recipe a day in advance. One bonus of this recipe is all the extras can be used on their own for delicious treats and deserts.

Mulled Wine :: The Scandinavian Baker

Mulled Wine Jelly

One bottle of bold red wine
One vanilla pod (split)
3-4 star anise pods
7-8 cloves
2 cinnamon quills
10 cardamom seeds, crushed
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 slices of orange
1/2 a teaspoon of orange zest
Juice from half a freshly squeezed orange
1 packet of gelatine leaves

Combine all ingredients, except the gelatine leaves, in a medium sized saucepan and warm over a medium heat. Bring to a boil and the reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes until slightly reduced.

Once reduced, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little while you soak the gelatine leaves in water. Follow the instructions as a guide for the type of gelatine you have. Once softened, squeeze out the excess water from the leaves and add them to the wine mixture. Stir to dissolve. Transfer the liquid to a mould and allow to set in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight. Once set, cut into cubes ready for the Rocky Road.

 

Mulled Wine Jelly :: The Scandinavian Baker

Marshmallow

500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon liquid glucose
2 tablespoons gelatine powder
2 x 200 ml of water
2 eggwhites
1/2 cup (75g) cornflour combined with 1/2 cup of icing sugar

Line a baking dish with plastic wrap. Dust inside of pan with a mix of icing sugar and cornflour.

Combine the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 200ml of water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. If you have a sugar thermometer, take it off the boil when it reaches 130°C.

Place another 200ml of water into a small bowl and sprinkle over the powdered gelatine, then stand for 10 minutes. Stir the gelatine mixture until well combined and then add it into the sugar syrup.

Home-made Marshmallow :: The Scandinavian Baker

Beat eggwhites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Continue to beat while you gradually add the sugar syrup mixture, then beat for a further 10 minutes until mixture thickens and becomes glossy.

Remove half the mixture and place into a separate bowl. Once split, start the mixer again and add the Scandinavian spices and beat until combined.  To the second bowl add the Singaporean themed ingredients of peanuts and dried chilli flakes.

Spread both mixtures into trays and refrigerate for an hour until set.  Cut marshmallow into squares and roll each in the sugar cornflour mixture. Stand for 1 hour to dry. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Home-made Marshmallow :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

Pandan and Coconut Sago

This one is simple. Cook the sago per the instructions on the packet, substituting the same amount water with half the can of coconut cream. Normally you would add some sugar to the mix, but the rocky road may be sweet enough for you. If in doubt you can add tablespoon of caster sugar to the sago while cooking. Add a few drops of Pandan essence to achieve a vibrant tropical green colour and delicate flavour.  Once cooked, allow to cool before using.

Pandan & Coconut Sago :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

Preparing the Rocky Road

Assemble your themed ingredients. You’ll need two baking dishes lined with plastic film or non-stick baking paper. Scatter the cubes of jelly, chopped almonds and spiced marshmallow into the first tray. In the second tray, scatter the peanut and chili marshmallow and pieces of crystallised ginger.

Rocky Road :: The Scandinavian Baker

Melting the chocolate

400 gram of dark + 200 grams of milk for the Scandinavian
400 grams of milk for the Singaporean

If your microwave has a chocolate setting, live like it’s the future and use this method. Otherwise break the chocolate into pieces and place into a heat proof bowls and melt over a pot of simmering water. Stir gently until the chocolate is melted. Repeat the process with the remaining chocolate types.

Coconut Ganache

To make the coconut ganache, heat the remaining coconut cream in heat proof bowl, when warmed add the white chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Scandinavian Rocky Road :: The Scandinavian Baker

Assembly

Pour the melted dark chocolate over the mulled wine jelly, almonds and marshmallow.

Home-made marshmallow tends to melt a little when exposed to the warm chocolate, but it will reform when you let the Rocky Road set.

Sprinkle the chocolate with the gingerbread crumbs and pearl sugar, dust with ground cardamom and put the mix aside to set.

Repeat the process for the Singaporean Rock Road.

Pour the melted milk chocolate over the marshmallow and ginger. Scatter the pandan sago and drizzle over the coconut ganache. Finish with the toasted coconut and dried pineapple.  If you like things spicy thrown a few extra chilli flakes on top and put aside to set.

Place the Rocky Roads into the fridge to set. Once chilled, cut into bars and wrap in small cellophane bags, ready for the little ghouls and goblins to come knocking.

Rocky Road :: The Scandinavian Baker

Foundation marshmallow recipe adapted from one by Valli Little.

Gingernut biscuits & the taste of home

Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker

A lovely friend of mine bought her first apartment this week and what better way to help make a house feel like home than with a freshly-baked spice-laden ginger nut biscuits.

We all know that feeling; aching back and frazzled mind after weeks of packing, cleaning, waiting, moving, unpacking, panicking and collapsing on to the sofa surrounded by boxes and the realisation you hate all your old stuff.

All you need is visitors to bring you delicious food and an offer to move a book shelf into place. And then to be left alone to devour the remaining biscuits. In that case, I’m your man.

Old-fashioned Gingernut Biscuits (or cookies for the rest of you)

Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry
2 cups of plain flour
120 grams of unsalted butter (soft-ish, but not quite room temperature)
1/2 cup of golden caster sugar
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
3 teaspoons of molasses
1 egg
3 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of raw sugar crystals for dusting

Sugar & Spice Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker 

Preheat oven to 180c.

You can make this recipe totally by hand if you prefer, but I’m more inclined to throw the lot into the KitchenAid and be done with it. I’m impatient and would rather the machinery manage the tedious combining of butter to flour.

Combine the all the dry ingredients (excluding the raw sugar crystals) in a mixing bowl and mix on low speed until well combined.   

Add the butter all at once and on low speed mix until it is well rubbed into the flour and resembles damp sand.

Spices Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker

Beat the molasses and egg together to combine and add to the mixture. Once combined increase speed a little and mix until a stiff dough begins to form. Once you have your mixture rattling around in a ball, you’re done.

Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker

Take a teaspoon sized piece of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten against your palm and place one side down into the raw sugar crystals, and repeat. Gently flatten the raw biscuits a little more with the prongs of a fork.

Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker

Bake for 20 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. They won’t colour deeply, so don’t be tempted to overbake or they’ll become a little too rock-like on the teeth. Allow to cool for 10 mins on the tray before moving to a cooling rack. Package up along with your furniture moving muscles and deliver the taste of home to anyone who needs it.

They appeared to do the job with resounding praise: ‘This is how biscuits are supposed to taste’.

Gingernut Cookies :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

 

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Just because Christmas is over (phew) doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating, right? Down here in the Southern Hemisphere it’s hot and bright and the heartily-warm comfort-food style Christmas desserts sometimes just don’t cut it on a breezy summer afternoon; we turn to our summer favourite, Pavlova… with a twist.

Classics and favourites exist like fairytales, we love them and bring them out time and time again to the delight of our wide-eyed guests. But once in a while a slight nudge in an unexpected direction reignites the passion and is as welcome as that summer breeze after a hot December day. It’s certainly clear that Pavlova is by far the fairest of them all, but who wants fair all the time!

I’ve posted about Pav before and this recipe is based on the classic. All that is required is a tweak, to the sugar and the vinegar. The addition of the golden brown sugar and dark vinegar transforms this classic from snow white to wicked queen but still maintains all the goodness.

Begin with the basic Pavlova recipe based on Stephanie Alexander’s from The Cook’s Companion.

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

4 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
200 grams of golden caster sugar combined with 50 grams of light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
A few drops of pure vanilla

 The Topping

250ml of thickened cream (for whipping)
250 grams of strawberries, hulled and roughly sliced
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
1/2 cup each of raspberries and blueberries

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat your oven to 180c. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Add the golden sugar a little at a time and beat until shiny and stiff (and no longer gritty). Add the vanilla, balsamic vinegar and cornflour and gently fold into the mixture until combined.

Transfer the glossy and wickedly-tinted meringue onto a prepared baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Gently flatten the mound a little and smooth out the sides. Don’t worry too much about the look of it at this point as you’ll invert this one after cooking.

Place into the oven and reduce the temperature to 150c and bake for 30 minutes. Then reduce again to 120c and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Switch off the oven and allow the meringue to cool completely. I often bake it the night before the party and leave it in the oven overnight.

Two hours before you’re planning to serve, place the chopped strawberries, additional sugar and balsamic vinegar into a bowl and mix well to coat. Allow the fruit to steep in the vinegar mixture for at least 2 hours, longer if you have the time. This magically transforms the berries into a new taste sensation and transforms the vinegar into a delicious syrup.

Assembly required

Whip the cream to soft peaks and dollop onto the meringue base. Arrange the marinated strawberries on top, followed by the other berries. Drizzle the reserved vinegar syrup over the fruit for a delightful twist on the original.

If it’s terribly hot, pop the Pav back into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Enjoy with an evening breeze and a dip in the nearest pool.

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta, Sea Salt… and a ridiculous amount of herbs.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta with Sea Salt… and a ridiculous amount of herbs. 

I was recently reminded of a much loved favourite. I used to bake it for all manner of parties with such success it started receiving invitations itself, and disappointed looks if it didn’t appear. Oh you brought cake instead… I’m sure it’ll be fine… 

It has been part of the repertoire for so long I can’t remember where it originated from. What I do know for sure is that it has certainly evolved into the mouth-watering punch in the mouth flavour-bomb  it is today.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Last week an old friend asked me for the recipe and the on-line discussion thread developed with calls of glee from others at the same party (5 years ago!) at the memory of this now legendary delight.

For the life of me I can’t remember why I stopped making this extraordinarily simple but delightful dish.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta with Sea Salt… and a ridiculous amount of herbs. 

The Fridge

1kg of fresh ricotta – from the deli not from a tub – tub cheese is way too soft for success
Sea salt crystals
Dried chili flakes to taste (trust me, err on the side of too much as the cheese will mellow the heat)
A few generous slugs of extra virgin olive oil
Great big bunches of oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme*

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat the oven to 200c. Line a loaf tin and press the ricotta into the tin. Bake for 20 minutes until firm and the edges have the slightest hint of gold.

Allow the cheese to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes, in which time it will become firmer.

Meanwhile in a shallow baking tray make a bed of half of the herbs and dress with a little olive oil and set aside.

Once cool enough to handle, cut the loaf in half and invert onto the green bed of waiting herbs.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Separate the halves slightly and drizzle with olive oil. Liberally sprinkle the crystalline flakes of salt over the two slabs. Don’t be shy, ricotta can handle the salt.

Follow with the chilli flakes and the rest of the herbs. Douse with olive oil and return to the oven to bake for a further 30-40 minutes.

After 15 minutes baste the cheese with the sizzling herb infused oil. Repeat every 10 minutes until the blanket of herbs are soaked and scorched and the cheese is a deep burnished gold.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving – just ever so slightly warm.

Sit back and let the praise wash over you between greedy mouthfuls.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker
* All available at Scarborough Fair (see what I did there)

Blood Orange, Chiffon and a glass of Campari

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

I was strolling through our local produce market the other day and was delighted to see that the blood oranges had arrived and were in plentiful supply.  A bitter-sweet few weeks of red-orange blush wondrousness that I look forward to each year. If you’ve never tasted blood orange juice you’re in for a treat, it is at once refreshing, sweet and bitter; nature’s original aperitif – part orange, part chinotto, part sunset.

Blood Oranges :: The Scandinavian Baker

I’m an unyielding fan of Campari – in fact I drank so much of it on a summer holiday in Rome that just the scent of it, and blood oranges, instantly transport me back to the heat, bustle and noise of the city.

Now, an orange chiffon cake is a classic, and you know I can’t resist missing with a classic. The addition of the blood oranges and the Campari takes this cake from much loved faded Polaroid memories of afternoon tea on the patio with Grandma, to an equally pleasing afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the Seven Hills of Rome.

So, squash those fears of sponges, ungreased tins, inverted half-baked eggy disasters waiting to happen; embrace a touch of Roman Holiday and thrust your hand into the waiting mouth that is the Chiffon.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

6 large eggs plus one additional egg white

225 grams plain flour

300 grams of golden caster sugar (reserve 50g for the egg whites)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zest from two blood oranges – or 1 garden variety orange

125 ml of canola or sunflower oil

200 ml of freshly squeezed blood orange juice (reserve 20 ml for the icing)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 Angel Food cake tin – ungreased and unlined (trust me; you do actually need this type of tin. Preferably one with feet attached to the rim. Although you’ll see in my case I threw caution to the wind and relied on just the spout – rebel)

Edible Flowers :: The Scandinavian Baker

Icing

250 grams of icing sugar

125 grams of melted butter

20 ml of blood orange juice

20 ml of Campari

Blood Oranges :: The Scandinavian Baker

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake

Preheat oven to 170c.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites (plus the extra one) into a large metal mixing bowl and set aside.

Combine the sifted flour, 250 grams of the sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest in your stand mixer bowl. Add the wet ingredients, juice, yolks, oil at once and mix on a medium speed until smooth and well combined.

Switch bowls, and beaters, and whisk the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks begin to form. Add the sugar in a steady stream and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Take a couple of large spoonfuls of the meringue and beat it into the cake batter. Don’t worry about folding at this point. This primes the batter to take the rest of the meringue mixture.

Gently combine the remaining egg white mixture in two or three batches. Mix until just combined and the cloud like wisps of white have mixed with the sunset pink of the batter.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Gently pour the batter into an unprepared Angel Food cake tin – I stress, unprepared, No lining, no greasing. Trust me on this; you need the cake to stick. Once the cake is cooked you’ll need to invert it to complete the baking process and a greased tin will mock you as you scrape up your deflated dreams and sponge up from the floor.

Bake for 55 minutes until golden and enormous.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

As soon as you remove the cake (take a deep breath) invert it and rest it upside down until completely cool. Give yourself a moment to bask in your success.

Once cool, run a sharp knife around the edge and the spout and invert the cake on to your serving plate. It may require a slight tap.

Don’t worry too much if you’ve left a little of the crumb behind in the tin. Icing covers all sins.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

The icing

Melt the butter and add the sifted icing sugar. Whisk vigorously, or use a hand beater if you’re worried it will split. Add the Campari and enough of the blood orange juice to form a smooth flowing consistency. Gently pour your blush coloured icing over the top of the cake allowing it to run down the sides and middle hole as you see fit, it will set as it cools.  Decorate with edible flowers and pour yourself a Campari over ice with a dash of any remaining juice. Then sit back and think of Audrey Hepburn.

Blood Orange Chiffon Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Original Chiffon Cake recipe from Joy of Baking. 

When life gives you lemonades

Lemonade Marmalade :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Finn recently returned from a trip to visit his Dad in the deep heart of the desert. On his return revealed a two kilogram bag of home-grown fruit from his Dad’s garden.

It’s harsh environment, but even in the driest and hottest of climates life prevails and can, if you’re lucky, provide a bounty. Behold… Lemonades.

The Lemonade is a hybrid southern-hemisphere citrus born from combining the navel orange with a lemon – add some  water, bit of Aussie sun and ding-dong , the bells of St Clements!

The fruit resembles a large lime, but ripens to a classic lemon yellow with the unique sweet taste somewhere between mild low-acid lemon and an orange. The best of both and a perfect choice for marmalade.

Lemonade Fruit :: The Scandinavian Baker
Lemonade Marmalade

The Pantry

2kg of Lemonades, washed and sliced into half-moons
2kg of sugar – white for a lighter result, raw for a much deeper desert sunset
Juice and seeds of one large lemon
8-10 jars, washed and dried, labels removed

Wash the fruit and slice into half-moons. Combine with the lemon juice (reserving the seeds) in a heavy-based large saucepan and warm through over a medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil as the juice is released from the fruit. Cook gently for 15 to 20 minutes.

Sliced Lemons :: The Scandinavian Baker

One of the issues with hybrid fruit is they often are seedless and with then need some extra assistance activating the pectin needed to set the jam. Take the reserved lemon seeds and gently boil them in a small saucepan with 100ml of water. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes and then add this liquid to the marmalade mixture.

Add the sugar all at once and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved. As soon as the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and bring the mixture to a vigorous boil. Don’t be afraid of this part, the marmalade must boil like the clappers for 20 minutes or so to transform itself from insipid sugar-juice to golden breakfast conserve.

While you wait, place a small side plate into the freezer.

Lemonade Marmalade :: The Scandinavian Baker

Once I was making marmalade from a gorgeous grapefruit tree that grew in the garden of an apartment we once rented. The landlord despised the bitter fruit so it was left for us to eat (breakfast), cook (marmalade), and drink (gin, soda and juice) the fruit away as we saw fit. As the jam was boiling away I placed a plate into the freezer with the perplexed Finn looking on. After some time trying to decipher my actions he asked why I’d done that.

I responded, it’s an old wives’ tale – place a plate in the freezer and you’re guaranteed you jam will set. I proceeded to fabricate the story further claiming it hailed from a time when you’d make jam in the winter and place a plate out into the cold as an offering of good will and no good baker/ jam-maker worth their salt would dare break the tradition.  I managed to keep that up for a good while, with a straight face, before revealing the truth. It’s all in the telling.

In fact the cold plate will help you tell if your jam has reached its setting point.

After boiling for 20 minutes, remove the plate and carefully drop a few blobs of the marmalade onto the surface. Give it a few seconds to cool and push your finger through the marmalade. If it wrinkles you’re done. If it stays runny continue to boil for a few more minutes and try again.

Lemonade Marmalade :: The Scandinavian Baker

Jars

Turn off the marmalade and allow to cool slightly. To prepare the jars I take the cheats option I learnt from Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat. Fill each jar half way with warm water, pop into the microwave and blitz for 5-10 minutes until the water boils and sterilises the jar. Carefully tip out the water and voila – jars ready for filling.  To sterilise the lids, boil in a small saucepan for five minutes.

Failing that you can pop your jars and lids into a low oven 120c and heat for 40 minutes.

Use a jug to fill each jar as close to the top as possible and carefully close the lid. As each jar cools the pop of the lid seals will ring out though the kitchen.

It’s best to let the marmalade settle for a couple of weeks before eating, but I can never wait that long. Guaranteed the half-filled left over jar will be pride of place on the breakfast table the next day, proudly offering up its desert bounty.

Home Made Lemonade Marmalade :: The Scandinavian Baker

Everything’s bigger in Dallas

 

Dallas Pulla :: The Scandinavian Baker

Dallas Pulla

It was a revelation the day I discovered that seemingly unending varieties of Pulla exist across Scandinavia. With the slightest tweak to a recipe a flick of the wrist this simple, delicate bun transforms into an array of wonderful delights.

OK, this may sound a little over the top – but trust me, once you’ve been to Dallas (aka Flavour Town) you’ll never be able to Pulla yourself away (wow – that was corny even for me – but seriously *grabbing your arm with wild abandon* this is the stuff).

To start you’ll need the basic Pulla recipe found here. The only difference is when I have the time I like to let this dough slowly rise for as long as I can. Allow the dough to get started for half an hour or so and then whack it into the fridge for five or six hours or even overnight – the cold won’t stop the fermentation, just slow it.

When you’re ready to roll, let the dough warm up a little as it will be easier to handle.  While it’s warming up get started on the filling.

Dallas Pulla Ingredients :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

250 grams of Quark cheese at room temperature

100 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup of caster sugar

1 egg

¼ cup of custard powder (or you can use plain cornflour with an extra dash of vanilla extract)

Dash of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

An additional egg and dash of milk for egg wash

Icing

3/4 cup of icing sugar

Dash of warm water

Pearl sugar (optional)

Dallas Pulla Ingredients :: The Scandinavian Baker

Firstly make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature – it’s the same method as for a cheesecake, if the ingredients are too cold it’s more challenging to end up with smooth custard.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat together until well combined and smooth.

Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, at least 40cm wide by 30cm tall. Keep the thickness around a centimetre. Evenly spread the custard mixture over the dough leaving a clean edge of about 1.5 cm along the edge closest to you, reserving a quarter  of the mixture to top the buns at the end.

Dallas Pulla waiting to be baked :: The Scandinavian Baker

Brush the clean edge with a little warm water and gently roll the dough into a sausage and seal with the damp edge. Using a sawing action (to avoid squashing the rolls) cut the dough into 5cm lengths.

The buns will need to rise again before baking. Place the buns flat side down onto a baking tray with enough room to comfortably double in size and not touch. Spoon the extra custard on top of the buns and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 200c. Once ready gently brush with the egg wash and place into the oven. Bake for 20 mins and then increase the temperature by 10c for another 5-10 minutes and bake until golden.

Dallas Pulla :: The Scandinavian Baker

Remove the buns and allow to cool for 15 minutes while you prepare the icing.

Combine the icing sugar and water to make a smooth paste the consistency of honey. Liberally drizzle the icing over the buns while still warm. Sprinkle with pearl sugar. Wait as long as you can to resist trying one – I lasted about 3 minutes.

Enjoy

Dallas Pulla :: The Scandinavian Baker

Hot Cross French Toast

Hot Cross French Toast :: The Scandinavian Baker

Good Friday was always a day when our family stuck with tradition – fish for dinner and buns for breakfast. Until the now near constant supply of hot cross buns became too much for me to resist, these pillowy sweet buns had only one day to shine.

These days of course, HCBs are so easy to get hold of they’ve become a weekly-shop staple according to the big retailers. So why not give them the reception they deserve with a twist this Easter.

This recipe makes enough for 2-3 people and will transform your buns into exquisitely light and fluffy pillows of Eastery goodness (too much? Um, no)

Hot Cross French Toast :: The Scandinavian Baker

Hot Cross French Toast

The Pantry

3 hot cross buns, cut in half (super delicious Hot Cross Bun recipe here)

300 mls of milk

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom

Pinch of salt flakes

Knob of unsalted butter for frying

Hot Cross French Toast :: The Scandinavian Baker
The Topping 

1 tablespoon of caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom

Hot Cross French Toast :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

Cut the buns in half and set aside. Gently beat the eggs until combined, add the milk and spices and stir to mix. Pour the mixture into a large shallow dish and place the buns cut side down. Allow the buns to sit for a few minutes, absorbing as much liquid as they can. Gently turn the buns to coat the other side.

Hot Cross French Toast :: The Scandinavian Baker
Once most of the mixture has been absorbed, heat a frying pan and gently melt the butter over a medium heat until frothy. Gently place the buns cut side down in to the pan and fry for a few minutes until golden. Turn and fry on the other side.

Hot Cross French Toast :: The Scandinavian Baker
Remove from the pan and allow to cool for a minute or so, while you mix the sugar and spices together. Sprinkle this mixture over the buns and serve with some fresh autumn or spring fruit.

Happy Easter x

October Sun Plum :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

3.14 and Peach Pie

Peach Pie :: The Scandinavian Baker

It’s March the 14th – International Pi-e day 3.14.15 (at least it is in countries that read the date in that format). But hey, I love a food themed day so I’m marking the occasion with the best the last days of a sub-tropical summer have to offer – Peaches, and lots of em!

This delightful recipe is adapted from one of my favourite American cooks – Joy the Baker. When it comes to pie, hers are tried and true and a slice of little ole American heaven.

You may have missed Pi day – but at The Scandinavian Baker HQ every day is pie day, so get baking!

Summer Peaches :: The Scandinavian Baker

Peach Pie

The Pastry

2 1/2 cups of plain flour

2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

225 grams of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ice cold water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (this adds an amazing tang to the pastry)

Summer Peaches Peach Pie :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Filling

1.5 kg of ripe yellow (kissed-by-the-sun) peaches (6-7 large)

1/2 cup of golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (what the? – yep, coriander, it’s super tasty)

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1 tablespoons of corn flour

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 egg, beaten and 1 teaspoon of water, for egg wash

2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, combined.

Makes one 23 cm pie

Peach Pie :: The Scandinavian Baker

Throw the flour, butter and sugar and salt in to your food processor and blitz to combine. Add the cold butter and blitz again until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Combine the water and vinegar and gradually add until the pastry begins to come together and forms a ball.

Turn the pastry out onto the bench and gently kneed into a ball. It will be quite soft and smooth. Cut in half and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.

Slice those sun-kissed peaches and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon juice. Whisk together the sugar, spices and  two flours and pour the mixture over the peaches. Gently toss with a wooden spoon to cover. Place bowl of fruit in the fridge to rest while you roll the pastry out. The flour mixture will absorb the peach juices as they bake and transform your pie into one any classic small-town American diner would be proud of.

Peach Pie :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

On a floured surface roll out the first pastry disk to slightly larger than your pie dish. It may crack a little around the edge; gently persevere until you have your round pastry.

Gently lift the pastry into your pie dish and press into place leaving the overhang – you’ll need this to join the top o the bottom. Pop this one into the fridge to rest.

Repeat this process with the second disk. Once ready, place the fruit filling into the waiting pie dish and gently place the top disk of pastry on top. Using your thumb or a fork, crimp the edges together to form a seal.

Using a sharp knife, make five slits in the top of the pie to allow any steam to escape. Trim the remaining pasty from around the edge.

Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash and then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes at 200c and then reduce the oven temp to 185c for 55 more minutes. The pie will be ready when the crust is a dark golden brown

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours before serving with far too much double cream. How delicious is Maths!?

IMG_8869

A classic loaf for all occasions

Finnish Pulla :: The Scandinavian Baker

This recipe for a simple tea loaf is based on the foundation of all Finnish Pulla recipes. From here you can add spices, jams, icing, custards or fruit to make endless varieties of this delightful afternoon tea staple;  but this original, lightly sweetened golden loaf is a simple delight to make and share with friends over a cup of tea, or more traditionally, ultra-strong black coffee.

You can start this in the morning ready for afternoon tea. If there is any left, day-old Pulla is ideal for Bread and Butter Pudding.

Rising Dough :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry 

250ml tepid milk
100 grams of raw caster sugar
2 packets of instant/dry yeast
1 egg
125 grams of soft unsalted butter
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom (plus a small amount of seeds, crushed roughly for texture and extra punch)
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
650 grams of plain flour

Use the dough hook tool on your mixer. Combine milk, sugar and yeast in your mixing bowl. Allow to activate for 5 minutes. Add the softened butter, egg, cardamom, cinnamon and salt and combine. With the mixer on low gradually add the flour until combined. Once the dough comes together you can kneed by hand until you reach a soft elastic dough, although I use the mixer to do this with equal results – approximately 5 minutes in my mixer.

Once smooth and elastic, allow to rest for a couple of hours until at least doubled in size.

Rising Pulla Dough :: The Scandinavian Baker

Divide the dough into three portions and roll into long sausages about 40 cm in length. Once you have the three lengths, place them side by side on your baking sheet and gently press the ends of the three together to join. Beginning with the left, gently plait the pieces of dough together, gently joining at the end. Once you’re finished fold the joins underneath the main loaf.

Finnish Pulla :: The Scandinavian Baker

Brush with beaten egg and dust with pearl sugar and set aside to rise for another 30 mins to rise. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool and serve just warm. I love it with slightly salted butter, an extra dust of ground cardamom and a cup of the darkest Finnish coffee on the side.

Nothing beats a classic.

Finnish Pulla :: The Scandinavian Baker