Posts Categorized: Travel

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.

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

The Taste of Picnics: Coconut and Raspberry Jam (Iced VoVo) Cake

Iced VoVo Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

When you’re travelling abroad the strangest things pop into your mind. A fragrance or flavour sends you right back home on a one way ticket to nostalgia-ville without a moment’s warning.

I’m a big fan of taking home grown treats with me as travel presents; and biscuits from my childhood weigh heavily in my suitcase.

Enter the Iced VoVo. Tooth-achingly sweet pink-fluffy-delight that still stands proud amongst the increasing competition of the biscuit aisle. What better treat to combine into cake!?

Iced Vo Vo :: The Scandinavian Baker

Coconut and Raspberry Jam (Iced VoVo) Cake.

The greatest thing about a French butter cake is its diversity and ability to hold its own against any flavouring you’d care to throw at it. Dense, yellow and buttery it’s a favourite staple for me and always goes down a treat at a picnic.

This version combines punchy raspberry jam, coconut, malted milk and pink in a homage to the much loved but rarely admitted to Iced VoVo – a total stand-out Aussie classic.

The Pantry

225 grams of unsalted butter

350 grams of golden caster sugar

350 grams of plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon of baking powder

225 ml of milk

2 tablespoons of malted milk powder

4 large eggs

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 a cup of raspberry jam

Shredded coconut

Iced Vo Vo :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat oven to 180c.

Grease and line three 20 cm tins. (Definitely take the extra time to line the tins for this one)

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until very pale and light. Reduce the speed of the beater and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. If the mixture looks like it is splitting add a little flour to help bind it back together. Sift together the salt, flour and baking powder and add to the batter alternately with the milk. Once combined add the vanilla and mix well.

Spilt the batter between you cake tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You may need to adjust the time if you are using on y two cake tins. The cakes are ready when risen and golden and slightly shrinking away from the edges of the tin.

Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes in their tins before removing. In the meantime prepare the icing.

Iced VoVo Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Icing

500 grams of icing mixture (mixture, not pure sugar for this one – trust me)

250 grams of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

Two teaspoons of salt flakes (not a typo – it’s the salt that really brings this together)

2-3 drops of pink food colouring

Place the butter and salt into a mixing bowl and beat on a slow speed until smooth. Gradually add the sifted icing mixture, a quarter at a time until combined. Increase the speed and beat on medium high for 5-7 minutes until very pale and fluffy. Add the food colouring one drop at a time until you have the desired colour. I use food grade gel colours. The result is intense and they won’t water down the mixture too much like liquid food colour can.

Once ready place the first cake layer on to a cake stand, securing with a dab of icing beneath to stop it from slipping. Spread a generous layer of the jam on top of the first cake. Place the next layer on top and repeat. To avoid huge chunks of cake and crumbs coming loose when you ice it, spread a thin layer of icing on the cake and place in the fridge for half an hour to set. This creates a base coat to better take the icing.

Once set slather with the rest of the pink fluffy icing, smoothing the top and sides. Once complete gently coat with the coconut and return to the fridge for half an hour to set.

When you’re ready to take that trip down memory lane and dive in to the nostalgia of an Iced VoVo, take out of the fridge and serve at room temperature. And try to resist more than one slice.

Iced VoVo Cake :: 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…