Cinnamon bread – sweet, soft and slightly sticky

Cinnamon bread

Cinnamon bread

Cinnamon bread

Danes have a special love affair with cinnamon. If you cycle around Copenhagen in the early hours of the morning and pass by a bakery, you will most likely be enveloped by a sweet, perfumed cinnamon smell inviting you to buy a warm cinnamon bun or a cinnamon bread fresh out of the oven. It is a real Danish classic and we eat so much cinnamon that it caused major uproar when the European Union tried to limit the amount of cinnamon allowed in baked goods a few years ago. Luckily for us it did not succeed and we can now enjoy our cinnamon breads were saved.

I, of course, have my favourite bakery where I go to get my cinnamon fix, but I prefer baking cinnamon bread myself. It is dead easy, will make your entire home smell amazing, and it means that you don’t have to get up on a Sunday morning and go to the bakery. A distinct advantage on a rainy and windy weekend.

Cinnamon bread
Enough for a two liter loaf tin

Dough:
½ package of fresh yeast
2 deciliter of milk
75g butter + ekstra for the tin
50g cane sugar
A pinch of salt
2 eggs
½ a vanilla pod
500-550g wheat flour

Filling:
125g softened butter
175g cane sugar
3tbsp cinnamon

Icing:
100g icing sugar
2-3tbsp water

Cut the butter into cubes. Heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted and the mixture is lukewarm.

Cinnamon bread

Add the yeast and stir until it dissolves and then add salt and sugar. Transfer to a stand mixer, add 2/3 of the four, eggs and the seeds of the vanilla pod. Mix and add more flour as required. Knead the dough for at least ten minutes until it is very smooth and soft. You get the best results by kneading it on a stand mixer, but you can do it by hand as well.

Cinnamon bread

Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. This takes around 1-1½ hours.

Kanelbrød3

Meanwhile make the filling by mixing butter, sugar and cinnamon until soft. Grease a two liter loaf tin well with butter.

When the dough has risen transfer it to a surface covered with flour and shape into a rectangle about 30×40 cm. Spread the filling evenly over the dough.

Cinnamon bread

Roll the dough firmly, turn the edges in underneath and place the cinnamon bread in the greased tin.

Cinnamon bread

With a pair of scissors cut deep into the bread from the top in a zigzag pattern and let the bread rise for 30 minutes.

Cinnamon bread

Turn on the oven at 180 degrees Celsius and bake the cinnamon bread for 30-40 minutes. If it starts getting too dark, cover it for the last 10-15 minutes of the baking time. Let the bread cool down in the tin for a bit and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool down completely.

Cinnamon bread

Make the icing by mixing icing sugar with water and then spread the icing over the bread.

Cinnamon bread

Serve the cinnamon bread in thick slices. It will keep for a day or two if covered up well, but it tastes best freshly baked.

Cinnamon bread

Brilliant blackcurrant buns

Brilliant blackcurrant buns

In all of Scandinavia we are very big on different varieties of cinnamon buns – kanelsnegle in Danish (literally cinnamon snails – they taste better than they sound), kanelboller in Norwegian (just plain old “cinnamon buns”) and kanelsnurrar (cinnamon swirls), but unlike us Danes and our Norwegian cousins, our Swedish neighbours have had the brilliant idea of adding other kinds of sweet filling than just cinnamon. The result is pretty amazing – and as some of you might know, Danes don’t like to admit that the Swedes can do anything right, so this is a lot coming from me.

A blackcurrant bun quite simply consists of a buttery yeast dough filled with blackcurrants and marzipan either rolled up or braided and then baked . In Sweden they usually make this kind of sweet buns with blueberries as they have so many in autumn, but I like the mix of sour and sweet of blackcurrant better.

If you think the braiding looks hard, you can roll the buns instead, but it really isn’t that hard – except to explain it in writing. Luckily there is a great youtube video to show you how.

Blackcurrant buns
Makes 20 small or 12 big buns

Dough:
800-900g wheat flour
2 eggs
100g softened butter
50g caster sugar
25g fresh yeast
2 teaspoons cardamom
4dl full fat milk
A pinch of salt

Filling:
150g blackcurrants
150g marzipan
100g butter
75g caster sugar
1 tablespoon water

In addition:
1 egg for brushing
A handful of nib sugar – a Scandinavian kind of coarse sugar that doesn’t melt with heat. If you get it then don’t worry. It looks pretty, but it is not essential to the taste.

Instructions
Start by making the dough. Heat the milk until finger warm and stir in the fresh yeast. Add salt, sugar, eggs, cardemom and half of the flour. Mix well. Cut the butter into cubes and add together with enough flour to make a soft dough – it usually takes around 800-900 grams of flour. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes on a stand mixer or at least 20 minutes by hand – think of it as saving you a trip to the gym to train your arms. At the end the dough should be smooth and very soft. Let it rise until it has doubled in size – takes about 1½ hours.

While the dough is rising, make the filling. Place the blackcurrants in a pot with the water. Bring it to a boil and let it gently simmer stirring occasionally, until it has thickened. Take it off the heat, add sugar and let it cool down. Taste it and add a bit more of sugar if you think it is too sour. Grate the marzipan and mix thoroughly with the butter. Add to the fruit and mix well.
Brilliant blackcurrant buns

When the dough has risen roll it out in a rectangle measuring around 40×65 cm. Spread the filling over the entire surface in an even layer.

Brilliant blackcurrant buns

Fold one third in towards the middle and then fold another third across so you end up having three layers of dough on top of each other. Cut the dough into strips around 2cm broad.

Brilliant blackcurrant buns

Explaining how the knead the blackcurrant buns is pretty hard. After about four or five tries that were complete nonsense, I figured it simpler to let a little video show you how. Mine don’t look exactly like the ones in the video – I think everybody ends up developing their own technique.

Place the buns on baking paper with lots of space between them and let them rise for an hour covered with a damp cloth.

Whisk the egg together and brush the blackcurrant buns. If you can get your hands on nip sugar then sprinkle each bun generously.

Brilliant blackcurrant buns

Bake the buns for 10-12 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius – or until golden.

Solbærsnurrer, færdigbagt, september 2013

The blackcurrant buns are best while fresh and warm out of the oven, but they keep for a few days in an airtight container.

Brilliant blackcurrant buns

Delicious raspberry slices

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter as they are called in Danish are a classic in the pastry shops and bakeries in Denmark. They were invented in the 18th century and consist of a two thin cakes – usually made from shortcrust pastry – put together with raspberry jam and then iced. The mother of the painter Anna Anker popularized them in the 19th century when she was the proprietor of the famous Brøndums Hotel in Skagen in northern Denmark, where painters and poets used the gather. The story goes that the novelist H. C. Andersen would travel all the way to Brøndums Hotel to eat these particular raspberry slices – they were that good.

I remember as a child when my grandmother used to make them for me – I would sit on her kitchen table and eagerly wait for the icing to dry. To my childish and impatient mind it always seemed to take forever, but it was worth the wait. The crispy pastry, the sweet yet slightly sour raspberry jam and the thick layer of icing on top was perfection to me and my sweet tooth, and today I think it makes for a very nice treat for a cup of tea.

This variation is raspberry slices is made gluten free with oats and not wheat flour, but if you want to make them exactly like the classic then replace the pastry in the recipe with shortcrust pastry and cut half a portion into rectangles.

Raspberry slices
Makes 6-8 slices

300g oatmeal
150g butter
75g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 egg yolk

Raspberry jam
200g raspberries (frozen are fine)
125g caster sugar
Maybe a a squeeze of lemon juice
– or a glass of good quality raspberry jam

Also
150g icing sugar
Sprinkles or freeze-dried raspberries

Start by blending the oatmeal as fine as possible until it turns into relatively fine flour. Mix with icing sugar, vanilla and the butter. Work in the butter with the dry ingredients until the consistency is like course breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and mix until it turns into a pretty firm dough. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Roll the pastry thinly out as a rectangle and cut the pastry into smaller rectangles. I personally like a bit of a rustic look so I just cut them out by rule of thumb – something like 5cmx10cm.

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Place the pastry on baking paper and bake for 15-20 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius or until they are lightly golden. Let them cool down completely.

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Now for the jam. Place raspberries, sugar and a tiny splash of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and let it gently simmer while stirring regularly until it turns quite thick. It takes about 20-30 minutes. Taste the jam and if needed add a bit of lemon juice so the jam isn’t too sweet.

When the jam is cold spread a medium thick layer on one half of the pastries and place the other half on top.

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Make the icing from icing sugar mixed with a bit of water. Spread over the raspberry slices and sprinkle with freeze-dried berries or colourful sprinkles.

The raspberry slices should be kept in an airtight container and will keep for at least 2-3 days.

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Raspberry slices or hindbærsnitter - a classic Danish sweet treat

Strawberry tart – a taste of summer

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

I always use some of the wonderfully sweet summer strawberries we have in Denmark during June, July and the beginning of August for a strawberry tart with chocolate, almonds and a thick vanilla custard. It is probably my favourite summer treat and is perfect both as a sweet accompaniment for an afternoon cup of coffee or as a beautiful centerpiece dessert at a dinner party.

I will not lie, this is a relatively time consuming tart as you have make the shortcrust pastry, the almond filling and the vanilla custard, but all the components themselves are relatively easy to make. And when you take the first bite of your homemade strawberry tart and taste the crispy pastry with its dense almond filling combined with the silky, vanilla perfumed custard, the slightly bitter chocolate and the sweet ripe strawberries then you know exactly what summer heaven tastes like.

Strawberry tart
For 6 people

Half a portion of shortcrust pastry
500g strawberries (preferably organic)
75g dark chocolate (70%)
4 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly (or any other sweet red jelly)

Almond filling
150g marzipan
100g soft butter
100g golden cane sugar
2 eggs
50 wheat flour
The seeds of half a fat, good quality vanilla pod

Custard
3 egg yolkes
2dl fullfat milk
50g golden cane sugar
The seeds of the other half of the vanilla pod
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 sheets of gelatin (4 grams in total)

Start by making the shortcrust pastry. When it has been in the freezer then pre-bake it for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius until slightly golden.

Meanwhile make the almond filling. Knead the marzipan with sugar and vanilla and add the butter little by little until the mix is homogeneous. Mix in the eggs in one at a time and then finally add the flour. If the mass starts to split then add a bit of the flour between the eggs.

Pour the almond filling into the pre-baked tart shell.

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

Bake the tart for another 15-20 minutes until the filling has set and is golden. Chop the chocolate very fine and divide on the hot tarte filling so it melts. If it doesn’t spread on its own then help it along with a spoon until the filling is covered.

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

For the custard start by soaking the gelatin in lots of cold water for ten minutes (or follow instructions on the package). Mix the rest of the ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring it to a boil while continually whisking. Let is gently boil for a couple of minutes until it has thickened quite a bit.

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

Remove the pot from the stove. Squeeze most of the water from the gelatin and then melt it in a pan over low heat with the little water still clinging to it. Mix carefully into the still warm custard. Cover it with clingfilm and let it cool down completely. The custard should be very thick, but that is the intention.

Put the custard on the cold tart with filling. Hull and half the strawberries and arrange them neatly on top of the cusard. Melt the redcurrant jelly in a saucepan over low heat and brush it evenly onto the strawberries.

Serve the tart for some very lucky guest!
Jordbærtærte, færdig1, august 2013

Easy shortcrust pastry for sweet tarts

Shortcrust pastry with rhubarb filling

Shortcrust pastry with an almond filling and caramelized nuts

In my world there are very few things that trump a freshly baked tart with crispy and flaky shortcrust pastry that melts on your tongue. Many people believe that it is hard to make shortcrust pastry and opt for the store-bought version, but making it yourself is actually quite straightforward, and the homemade version that doesn’t contain additives and is made with real butter tastes so much better than anything you can buy.

The key to success is to handle the pastry as little as possible and to cool it down before you bake it. It also helps using a pie dish with a loose bottom which makes it easier to transfer the pie to your serving plate. I personally love the pie dishes from Circulon as they are practically indestructible – trust me, I have tried! You can buy them here.

For most of the year I fill my pies with seasonal fruit, and in Denmark we are pretty lucky in this respect – in spring rhubarb is abundant, summer arrives with lots of sweet and ripe berries, and in autumn we have more plums, pears and apples than we can possibly eat. Wintertime calls for comfort and coziness and here a velvety chocolate filling is the perfect antidote to the long and dark Scandinavian winters.

Sweet shortcrust pastry
For two pie dishes 20cm in diameter

250g wheat flour
165g cold butter
1 medium egg
3 tablespoons of icing sugar
A pinch of salt
The seeds of half a vanilla pod

Cut the butter into cubes and mix with flour, icing sugar and salt. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until it reaches a consistency like breadcrumbs. This is best done with an electric mixer, but can also be done by hand. Just remember to work as fast as possible so the butter doesn’t begin to melt.

Shortcrust pastry

Carefully whisk the egg and add it to the butter and flour mix. Mix together fast, kneading the pastry as little as possible. It should just stick together. If you do it with a machine then let it run until the pastry is just about homogeneous and the press the pastry into a ball with your hands.

Shortcrust pastry

Cover the shortcrust pastry in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. When the pastry has rested, roll it out with a bit more flour. Butter a 20 cm in diameter pie dish with a loose bottom making sure there is butter in every nook and cranny, and press the pastry into the dish. Be sure that there aren’t any air trapped between the bottom of the dish and the pastry.

Prick the pastry with a fork to allow air bubble to escape. Cover the dish in cling film and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking it.

Shortcrust pastry

If the filling for the pie needs to be baked then pre-bake the pastry for 10-12 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius or until it is a light golden colour, then add the filling and bake until the pie is done.

If the filling doesn’t require baking then bake the pastry for approximately 25 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius or until it is golden and crispy. Let it cool off completely before adding the filling.

Shortcrust pastry

This blog post contains an affiliate link which means that I get a small amount of money if you buy a pie dish – it is not something that makes be rich in any way, but it helps to cover some of the expenses connected with running Sofie’s Pantry.

Grandma’s sweet buttermilk horns

Kærnemælkshorn, færdige2, maj 2013 Kærnemælkshorn, færdige1, maj 2013

My grandmother was a keen cook. She was always in her kitchen baking and basting, pickling and poaching. She was every good at using seasonal ingredients and throughout her life she collected recipes from newspapers, magazine friends and family. When she passed away a few years ago I inherited her treasure-trove of recipes and whenever I need a recipe for a classic dish I always look take out her fabulous collection which she meticulously kept in a little black box on index cards neatly written in her small handwriting – it has never failed me yet.

A week ago I was sitting in a small Copenhagen cafe with a friend. They had a tray with freshly baked ”kærnemælkshorn” – buttermilk horns – on the counter, and I simply had to have one. They took me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen and sitting on her kitchen table looking at her rolling out the dough for my favourite treat. Later in a nostalgic mood I took out my black box of recipes and voilá – a recipe for buttermilk horns from 1961, thank you grandma!

Buttermilk horns are an old school Danish classic and a real treat, somewhere between a pastry and a bun. They are made from a buttery yeast dough with buttermilk – don’t worry they don’t taste like buttermilk – rolled around a creamy almond filling and finally sprinkled with sugar and chopped almonds just before they are baked. They make a delicious afternoon treat for tea or a wicked breakfast on a special Sunday morning.

Grandma’s sweet buttermilk horns
Makes 20-24 buttermilk horns

Dough:
300g butter
500g wheat flour
50g caster sugar
2 dl buttermilk
10g fresh yeast
A pinch of salt

Almond filling:
10g butter
100g caster sugar
100g marzipan (at least 60% almonds)

Additionally:
An egg for brushing
A handful of finely chopped almonds
A handful of nib sugar

Start by making the dough. Mix together flour, salt and sugar and work in the butter until the texture is like coarse breadcrumbs. Lightly heat the buttermilk until it is a little warm and mix with the yeast. Pour the liquid into the butter and flour mix and quickly mix together until it is just smooth. Do not knead the dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge, preferably overnight but at least 5-6 hours.

Grandma's sweet buttermilk horns

For the almond filling, knead the marzipan with the sugar and then work in the butter until the texture is smooth. The almond filling can be made in advance and kept in the fridge.

Divide the dough in two. Roll each into a circle using a bit of flour, so the dough does not stick. Each circle should have a diameter of around 35-40 cm. Cut each circle into ten or twelve triangles.

Grandma's sweet buttermilk horns

Place a large teaspoon of almond cream on each triangle and roll them up starting at the broadest end. Make sure to fasten the ends securely so the buttermilk horns do not come apart in the oven.

Grandma's sweet buttermilk horns

Brush the horns with egg and sprinkle them with finely chopped almonds and sugar.

Grandma's sweet buttermilk horns

Bake for 18-22 minutes at a 180 degrees Celsius.Keep an eye on them during the last third of the baking time so they do not get too dark.

The buttermilk horns are best served fresh out of the oven, but they also taste great when they are cold – if you like you can reheat them in the oven for a few minutes just before serving. They are also great to freeze and this way you always have a treat for unexpected company. Simply wrap the unbaked horns carefully in plastic or put them in an airtight container. Bake from frozen at a 180 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes.

Kærnemælkshorn, færdige, maj 2013