Posts Categorized: Finland

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

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

Most Delicious, Sir

Lemon & Mint :: The Scandinavian Baker

The start of a new year is the perfect time to look back at some of the favourite recipes here at The Scandinavian Baker.

Finnish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns
The ultimate in Finnish baking.

There’s nothing quite like a slapped ear in Finland, I’ll be honest. They’re everywhere. Old people with slapped ears, children, students, and tourists… the Finns are dishing them out to anyone who asks and some who don’t. It’s a national pass time.

Korvapuusti :: The Scandinavian Baker

Jam drops
The perfect go-to recipe for a sweet fix.

Preserving food is big in Scandinavia, and it’s easy to understand why. The seemingly endless frost-gripped winter, devoid of light and anything fresh in the garden lends itself to storing delicious preserves made from the sun-drenched summer harvest and roadside foraging.

Jam Drops :: The Scandinavian Baker

Danish Pastries
My all time favourite treat.

Danish pastries are my weakness. I love them, always have. My Dad and I used to frequent our local Hot Bread store on Saturday mornings to buy said hot bread; usually a Vienna loaf or similar, scorched a little on the crust. We’d eat it piled high with paper thin slices of pastrami from the deli next door and I couldn’t imagine a better lunch at the age of eight. Pastries would also be bought for afternoon tea (or the ride home) – always apricot for me.

Sour Cherry Danish Pastry :: The Scandinavian Baker

Finnish Oven Pancake
No more flipping for you with this take on a breakfast favourite.

If you love pancakes for breakfast, but can’t be bothered with the pouring, flipping and repeating while your hungry relatives eye-ball you from the table, then this one is for you. It’s a one pan wonder and while its form may be unfamiliar it packs a punch of heart-warming pancakey comfort food flavour that will have you adding it to your regular repertoire.

Finnish Baked Pancake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Thanks so much for reading, sharing, baking and eating your way through the blog this last year.
Here’s to another year ahead of delicious and surprising treats from far off lands and those a little closer to home.

Enjoy, TSB x

Bowls :: The Scandinavian Baker

Everybody Loves a Doughnut

IMG_8308

Everybody loves a doughnut. And you just have to love something called a Munkki! These delights are one of the first things I seek out on a trip back to Finland. Sweet but not cloying, moist and light with the familiar Finnish bite from cardamom – an absolutely perfect adaptation of the fair-ground-hot cinnamon doughnut we loved as children; and still love today.

I admit I’m not a big deep fryer. I’ve always been a little nervous around the open flame of the stove at HQ combined with large pots of highly flammable liquids. I’ve often brushed off the occasional thought of buying a dedicated bench top deep fryer – own it and they will fry kind of mentality – you know what I mean. So I’ve not dabbled too much in the way of deep-fried delights.

To my surprise these treats have gone some way towards allaying my fears of the home-fry. In fact it was quite enjoyable to watch the little fluffy balls of dough burnish up to a delightful gold. Plus, it brought us one step closer to having bona fide munkki within reach sans 24 hour plane flight. Win!

Ingredients for Munkki :: The Scandinavian Baker 

The Pantry

14 grams of dried yeast (25 grams if using fresh yeast)

1 egg, lightly beaten

500 ml of warmed milk

250 grams of caster sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cardamom

1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds roughly crushed

100 grams of melted butter

800 grams of plain flour

250 grams of quark (substitute with smooth ricotta if quark is hard to locate)

2 heaped teaspoons of sea salt flakes

1.5 – 2 litres of canola oil for frying

Coating

200grams of caster sugar

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

Makes approximately 50. If you don’t need 50 doughnuts, (can’t imagine why) then halve the recipe, but keep the whole egg.

Munkki :: The Scandinavian Baker

Rahka Munkki

In your mixer, with the dough hook attached, combine the yeast, milk, sugar, salt and cardamom. Combine the quark, egg and melted butter and add to the mixture. Sift the flour and add to the mix in 4 – 5 lots allowing the flour to incorporate between each addition. Beat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough will be very soft.

Allow to rise for 30 minutes. If it’s a cool day, below 20 degrees, give the dough another 15 minutes.

Once risen, take tablespoon-fulls of the dough and roll into small balls. The task is made much easier by coating the spoon and your hands with a little oil. Leave the balls to rise for another 15 minutes.

Munkki :: The Scandinavian Baker

Heat your oil to 180 degrees Celsius. Test the heat by dropping some stale bread into the oil. If the bread crisps up nicely, without scorching to a crisp, you’re ready to fry!

Gently place each ball into the oil and allow to cook, part way through a gentle nudge will flip them over to cook on the other side. Once ready remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain for a moment. Immediately place the doughnuts into a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and coat well. Move to a plate to cool. And repeat.

The result is something you have to taste to believe. The addition of the quark gives these doughnuts a moist springiness that leaves you wanting more.

Freshly ground cardamom :: The Scandinavian Baker

What more could you want form a doughnut; except another doughnut, or possibly this totally delicious variation.

Munkki filled with orange curd :: The Scandinavian Baker

Blood Orange Curd Filled Doughnuts

Proceed as above with the Munkki. Once cooked, don’t roll in the sugar and allow to cool completely.

The Pantry

 4 egg yolks

75 grams of unsalted butter

1/2 cup of caster sugar

Juice and rind of three blood oranges (100 mls)

Icing sugar for dusting

Combine the sugar, egg yolks, butter and the juice and rind of the blood oranges in a small saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. Bring to a simmer while stirring and cook for a few minutes until think and the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. And there you have it. Allow the curd to cool and transfer to a piping bag.

Back to the Munkki. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle attachment pipe a small amount of the curd into each doughnut.

Roll each doughnut in icing sugar and prepare to be mobbed by hungry fans desperate to have just one more.

Hauki print by Marimekko :: The Scandinavian Baker

Traversing the Spice Routes

 

It’s been a whirlwind tour for us so far.

From the arctic north in Finland to the hot summer sun of Istanbul – across to the Swiss/German borderlands and back to the capital of Scandinavian food, Stockholm; all the while searching for the best ingredients, recipes and inspiration to share on The Scandinavian Baker.

Freshly baked bread :: The Scandinavian Baker

We’ve been lucky to share in the preparation of food for celebrations and long-anticipated reunions with old friends and family. And even luckier to sample the extraordinary flavours of five destinations so far.

From traditional home-made baking and contemporary takes on family favourites to vibrant street food this tour has so far proved a student-exchange for the tastebuds.

While I’m tasting rather than baking, please share the journey with me and the Finn and visit me on the official The Scandinavian Baker Facebook page and Instagram feed #thescandinavianbakerabroad to stay up to date on our fresh and delicious discoveries along the way.

Sweet Turkish street food :: The Scandinavian Baker Sweet Turkish street food :: The Scandinavian Baker Fresh redcurrants :: The Scandinavian Baker Plums for Zwetchgenkuchen :: The Scandinavian Baker

And stay tuned for The Scandinavian Baker’s food lover’s guide to Stockholm. Oh the wonders they will see…

The Baker Abroad – Scandinavian Summer

Finnair in Flight :: The Scandinavian Baker
We’re on the road. We’ve packed up the rolling pin and apron and are travelling around Scandinavia soaking in as much of the midnight sun as we can. While there hasn’t been much time for baking there has been plenty of time for tasting the traditional and delicious baked treats that are served up from cafes to kitchen tables right across Finland.
Korvapuusti :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

First stop Helsinki, one of my all-time favourite cities. From the moment you step off the plane, with its accents of Marimekko design, all number of Finnish delights are waiting.

 

Helsinki :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

You cant beat the tastes and smells of the market stalls overloaded with fresh berries, open air grills serving hot smoked salmon and tiny buttery summer potatoes and bakers windows filled with more varieties of bread and pastries than you can count. It’s a vibrant city that celebrates its local flavours, all with a dash of bright Marimekko colour.

 

Marimekko & Unikko :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

This past week marked Midsummer and we celebrated in Oulu (the capital of northern Scandinavia) with a birthday, surprise wedding and of course some delicious baking under the endless light of the midnight sun. One of the things I love most about returning to Finland during the holiday season is the crowded houses filled with family, stories and so much food. All this paired with late evening walks in the forest and foraging for berries and birch leaves for the sauna. We were treated with home-made pulla, karjalan piiraka and the show-stopper, Summer Sitruuna Tortuu.

 

Summer Sitruuna Torttu :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

When it’s time to celebrate in Finland, nothing beats the sponge cake. Often overlooked for something showier, it’s the perfect base to showcase the flavours of summer on a lighter than air cake. This particular version has been making an appearance and family gatherings and my brother-in-law’s birthday for years and holds a special place in the hearts of the family, and now in mine. It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity, dressed with creamy lemon icing, praline and foraged summer flowers.

 

The Pantry

3 large eggs

75 grams of caster sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of flour, sifted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 

The rules are simple with a sponge. Treat it kindly and it will reward you. Also resist the urge to open the oven to peek at your creation. The eggs are the raising agent, but if you’re worried you can add a teaspoon of baking powder to help it along.

 

The Icing

150grams of quark or cream cheese

75 grams of icing sugar (or more to taste)

Rind of one lemon 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

 

The Praline

75 grams of caster sugar

35 grams of toasted hazelnuts

 

Summer Sitruuna Tortuu

Preheat the over to 175c. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until very light and fluffy, and considerably larger. The batter should be quite thick.

Gently fold in the sifted flour and baking powder (if using) by hand with a whisk or spatula, trying to keep as much air in as possible. Gently scrape the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin and bake 30-40 minutes. You can safely check at 30 minutes, but not before or the cake will fall. Once cooked and cooled slightly, remove to a rack to cool completely before icing.

 

The Icing

Beat the quark, lemon zest and juice and sugar together until light and creamy.

This cake is meant to be served in layers. Gently slice the cake horizontally into the three layers and spread the icing mixture onto each layer, reserving half for the top and sides.

 

The Praline

Sprinkle the nuts onto a lined baking tray. Gently heat the sugar in a heavy saucepan until it melts and begins to turn a deep golden colour. Avoid stirring too much as crystals will form. Once golden like the midnight sun pour over the nuts and allow to cool. Once cool and hard, shatter the praline and sprinkle over the iced cake.

 

Decorate with foraged edible flowers, we used viola petals, and it’s ready to kick off the celebration.

Happy birthday, happy holidays and Hauska Juhanuusta!

 

Summer flowers :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Baker & Merchant

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

A year or so ago, months of dreaming, planning, talking and tinkering all came together and  a bunch of us set out to make our mark in the big wide world with the help of the interwebs.

It’s been an amazing romp so far, so what better reason to throw a party and celebrate The Scandinavian Baker’s first birthday (hooray) and the anniversary of the local hand-made homewares venture Maker & Merchant. Happy birthday team! It’s The Baker & Merchant mash-up. (Sheer brilliance)

Maker and Merchant

It’s also the 50th anniversary of the iconic and instantly recognisable Finnish design classic, Marimekko’s Unikko – the poppy flower.

In 1964, the story goes that Marimekko designer Maija Isola defied founder Armi Ratia’s decree that never again would Marimekko produce a floral pattern. (That went well) On the back of that red- rag-to-a-bull moment Isola gave life to the design that would forever define the style of the company by painting the famous Unikko pattern in bold pink, red and black on white. The pattern has been in production ever since. What a way to arrive!

Marimekko Unikko Fabric :: The Scandinavian Baker

So it’s been a month of celebrations with even more to come. With a few milestones reached and in honour of the poppy it’s the perfect time to bake a celebration cake that’s close to my heart and pair it with a drink that tastes like it’s your birthday!

So make yourself comfy on your Maker and Merchant cushion and give three cheers to captains of industry!

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake

When I was a child there were no Women’s Weekly birthday cakes in the shape of a glistening pool or furry yellow bear for me. My Mum was never the willing baker; driven more by necessity than desire. And while at times I longed for the brightly-coloured butter-cream-whipped delights that graced my friends’ birthday parties, nothing ever beat the Poppy Seed Cake sitting pride of place at the centre of the table – wide-eyed children waiting patiently for a slice twice the size of anyone’s hand.

Blue Poppy Seeds :: The Scandinavian Baker

I cut my bakers teeth on this cake and it’s been there for every celebration throughout my life. It’s travelled with me and been baked in kitchens far and wide. It’s comfort, fond memory and tradition rolled into one extraordinary looking cake.  Now the blackened tin from my childhood (strictly reserved for this cake only) and the recipe committed to memory lives with me and I couldn’t be happier.

The Pantry

2 cups of raw sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups of canola oil
3 cups plain flour
1½ teaspoons of bi-carbonate of soda
1 can of evaporated milk (375 mls)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Poppy seeds (approx  ¾ cups)
One Angel Food cake tin with the narrow spout in the centre. (This part is essential. The cake won’t work in a regular round cake tin.)

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Into your mixer place the sugar and eggs and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until well combined, lighter and doubled in size. Gradually add the oil in a steady stream and beat until well blended.

Sift the flour and bi-carb soda together. Add to the mixture, alternating with the evaporated milk, (at least four intervals). Folding together gently with a wooden spoon until combined.  Add the vanilla essence and mix in gently.

Add the poppy seeds, and mix well into the mixture until well dispersed.

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Pour into a well greased Angel Food tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45- 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. The cake may burn a little on the top, but this is characteristic of the style of cake.

Allow to cool for about 15- 20 minutes in the tin and then remove.

This cake is spectacular to look at, and best made the day before. Something magical happens when it rests overnight, transforming the texture and flavour from ordinary cake into a rich and surprising delight. It will keep for up to one week, but that’s unlikely. It’s hard to stop at a single piece, so be warned.

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

While you’re patiently waiting for the cake to bake, why not start the party early with this delightful treat; dedicated to the lovely ladies celebrating over at Maker and Merchant.

Pomegranate and Basil Fizz (makes 1 – although that seems mean, so make enough for at least 2)

Pomegranate and Basil Fizz

The Pantry

Half a fresh pomegranate
2 nips of gin or vodka
1 tablespoon of simple syrup (or a teaspoon golden syrup if you’re too lazy to make the simple syrup yourself)
5 purple basil leaves (although green will also work splendidly)
Dash of soda water
Squeeze of lemon
Ice

Pomegranate & Basil Fizz

Cut the pomegranate in half and over a bowl using the end of a wooden spoon beat the skin to remove the seeds. With any luck the ruby jewels will fall into the bowl and not all over the floor.

If you’re making the simple syrup, place equal amounts of sugar and water into a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Voila! Keep it on hand in the fridge for instant cheer.

Place the seeds, ice, basil, gin, lemon juice and syrup into a cocktail shaker (Put on the soundtrack to 80s film classic Cocktail) Shake it like a Polaroid picture and you’re ready. Pour in to a glass of your choice and top with a dash of soda water, a slice of lemon and a couple of extra basil leaves.

Raise a glass and toast your achievements. Because everyone has something to celebrate.

Home Grown Pomegranate :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

Almost Bread and Butter Pudding

Bun and Butter Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Crumb and the Restless

I think I’ve hit my limit. It’s hard to admit, but could five delicious bunly months almost be too much? Even the fact that there are two posts about this topic is astonishing in itself.

From the commencement of the 2014 season (in December 2013) at my local multi-national provedore, to the heady days of Easter and quick-fire discounting at the checkout I’ve had my share of Hot Cross Buns.

But it’s May and the buns have now returned to the little piece of heaven they’re baked in for another year… Except they haven’t.

My local is still stocking them 3ft high on entry. Even the competitor down the road has continued the supply, albeit sans cross and now labeled and fruity and convenient breakfast buns – but I see through their charade.

I’m beginning to suspect they have made the jump… to everyday food.

So why not take advantage? Why suffer when your heart’s desire is there for the taking – well, for me it’s beginning to feel a little stale (see what I did there). Sure I can stretch to four months, but now I need a break so I can experience the joy of devouring hot cross buns anew in the scorching heat of January next year.

So I’m farewelling the buns with the proper send-off they deserve – almost bread and butter pudding, with a twist.

Bun and Butter Pudding

Ingredients for Bun and Butter Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

I’m using the buns from my previous post, but this recipe works splendidly with slightly stale korvapuusti, pulla, brioche or your everyday sandwich bread.  A surprisingly stunning version can also be made with stale rye bread, molasses and cinnamon – deliciously peculiar.

The Pantry

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

¾ of a cup of caster sugar

600 mls of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ a teaspoon each of cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg

Pinch of salt

6 stale hot cross buns, split in two

25 grams of butter

Lingonberry or other jam of your choice

Bun and Butter Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

Beat the eggs and extra yolk with the sugar, salt and spices, but not too vigorously to avoid too many bubbles. Incorporate the milk and vanilla and set aside.

Split the buns in half and butter each side liberally and dot with the jam. Place the buns butter side up I to a baking dish.

Gently pour in the custard mixture covering the buns and allow to sit for 5 minutes to allow the buns to absorb some of the liquid.

Bun and Butter Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

Place the baking dish into a larger baking tin filled with enough hot water to reach two thirds of the way up the dish.

Bake at 160c for 40-45 minutes until the custard is set and the buns a burnished gold.

Best served warm, but is equally delicious cold the next day for a sneaky mid-morning snack.

If you like things a little zesty, grate some lemon zest in to the custard mix before baking for a surprising addition.

Oh and happy May-ster?

Bun and Butter Pudding :: The Scandinavian Baker

Follow The Scandinavian Baker on Instagram for previews, sneak peeks and surprise finds. Stay up to date with fresh posts on The Scandinavian Baker’s Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Hot Cross Panic

Hot Cross Buns :: The Scandinavian Baker

The week leading up to Good Friday stirs a animalistic panic somewhere deep in my subconscious.

It’s the fear that I’ve squandered the weeks of plenty, where Hot Cross Buns were stacked 6ft high at the entrance to every supermarket.

The (now four) months of bunly-goodness have quickly come to an end and caught all of us by surprise. All we have left on the holiday food horizon are Anzac biscuits and then we’re cast adrift on a barren sea until the return of fruit mince pies in October.

Candied Peel :: The Scandinavian Baker

As you know a big part of my motivation for baking arose from an enduring desire to eat tasty baked treats I couldn’t find in bakeries at home.  And while the buns are plentiful for a quarter of the year here, I found myself living in Finland where the mention of a Hot Cross Bun evoked a reaction of perplexed staring, as if I’d strung three unrelated words together. (You’d think the Finns could relate to that).

While I’m not taking the credit for introducing HCBs to Central Finland…  this recipe clearly contributed to something…

Ingredients for Hot Cross Buns :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

700 grams of plain flour, sifted
55 grams of (¼ cup) raw caster sugar
2 packets of dried yeast (14 gm)
1 teaspoon of allspice, cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger
1 teaspoon of salt
250 grams of (1½ cups) sultanas
100 grams of candied mixed peel
Rind of one lemon
300 mls of milk
100 grams of unsalted butter
1 egg

Spice :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Glaze
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
¼ tsp mixed spice

The Crosses
50 g flour
¼ cup water

Spices :: The Scandinavian Baker

Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, spices, sultanas, mixed peel and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.

Gently warm the milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts and mixture is tepid – don’t let it get too hot as this will kill the yeast. Add the egg to milk mixture and whisk to combine.

Make a well in the centre of flour mixture, add the milk mixture all at once and stir. You can either kneed by hand for 10 minutes if you’re feeling virtuous or mix on speed 2 for 5 mins in your stand mixer.

Leave the dough in the bowl to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until at least doubled in size.

Hot Cross Buns :: The Scandinavian Baker

This dough is fairly forgiving and I like to let it rise longer up to 90 mins to give a lighter texture.

Knock back the dough and cut into 16 equal pieces. Gently knead each piece into a ball, place each into a lightly greased 22cm-square cake pan – just touching one another. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.

The Crosses

Preheat oven to 220C.

Combine 50 grams of flour and ¼ cup water and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Pipe lines down each row to form crosses.

Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200C and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden. (They’re ready when they sound hollow when tapped).

The Glaze

While the buns are still hot combine spices and sugar with ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Brush glaze over still hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Hot Cross Buns :: The Scandinavian Baker

These buns are delicious with lashings of salty butter and sweet lingonberry jam.

Enjoy and rest easy that the annual bun panic can now be quietened in your restless subconscious.

Hyvää Pääsiäistä  - Happy Easter

Hot Cross Buns :: The Scandinavian Baker

Jam, cream and austerity

Laskiaispulla or Semla  :: The Scandinavian Baker

For a long time I thought nothing could beat the classic Finnish Pulla. The somewhere between light and dense, cardamom laced, delicately sweet ubiquitous bread that is a staple in Finnish households, and eaten daily by me when in Finland.

Once I’d lived in Scandinavia, however, I discovered a smorgasbord of delightful variations, some appearing only once a year. And as you know I’m somewhat obsessed with holiday food – I was sold.

Enter the Laskiaispulla – the pulla for Shrove Tuesday. Push those common pancakes aside – Lent has a new King. Also known as Semla in Swedish, vastlakukkel in Estonian or fastelavnsbolle in Danish and Norwegian this little bun loved across the still icy Spring shores of the Baltic.

What better way to toast the season of going without than by stuffing your face with a jam and cream filled taste explosion.

The recipe below is for half the usual batch – even I can’t devour 32 buns, but if you’ve got a big group of hungry pilgrims popping around to feast one last time before Easter by all means double it.

Ingredients for Laskiaispulla or Semla  :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

1 packet of instant yeast
1/2 a cup of Milk – warmed to body temperature
1/2 cup of golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
50 grams of unsalted butter – softened
3 cups of plain flour – sifted
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom

Laskiaispulla or Semla  :: The Scandinavian Baker

For Decoration

Flaked or ground almonds – or a combination
Pearl sugar
Extra egg for glaze

Toppings

Lingonberry Jam
Cream – for whipping
icing sugar

Combine the yeast, sugar, salt, cardamom, milk, butter and beaten egg in your mixing bowl. Using the standard mixing blade switch on and gradually add 1 cup of flour until the mixture in smooth. Switch to the dough hook and incorporate the rest of the flour.

Kneed in your mixer for 5 minutes or turn out onto a floured surface and knead by had for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover and allow to rise for up to two hours  or until at least doubled in size.

Once risen turn out and divide into 16 equal portions. Gently roll each portion into a ball and place on a lined baking tray to rise again.

While waiting, make a list of thing you think you should give up for Lent… (not compulsory – the dough will still rise if you skip this step)

Gently brush the risen dough with an egg wash and sprinkle the almonds or pearl sugar onto the rolls.

Bake at 190c for12-15 minutes until lightly golden. Ding – rolls become buns. Allow the buns to cool before adorning with the jam and cream.

Laskiaispulla or Semla  :: The Scandinavian Baker

To Serve

Slice the top of each bun and spread a layer of jam on the bottom half, top with cream and pop the top back on. Dust with icing sugar and you’ve a got a perfect last supper on your hands.

Laskiaispulla or Semla  :: The Scandinavian Baker

Options

A delicious alternative is to fill the buns with almond paste – this can be made by processing blanched almonds,  a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and a dash of cream until it comes together to form a paste. It’s worth a try.

These buns are hard to put down; cute, perfectly proportioned and undeniably moreish – I’ve eaten three just writing this post.

A solemn and hungry Lent to all.

Laskiaispulla or Semla  :: The Scandinavian Baker