Tag Archives: Swedish food

Semlor (Swedish Cardamom Buns)

This week most of Europe has been shivering. We’ve been doing all we can to keep as far as possible from icy winds, and here in London, it’s been a bit of a waiting game. We wait for snow, then it arrives, then we shiver, then it melts a bit, then it gets colder, then it snows again.

Given how cold things are, it may seem a little bit strange to be thinking about Easter, but it occurred to me a few days ago that we were coming up for the start of Lent quite soon, and that means a raft of calorific goodies. Now do you see how thinking about things made with lots of butter, cream, eggs and sugar is not quite as strange as it first seems? And that made me think about a traditional Swedish item – the semla (pl. semlor).

Selmor are a Swedish specialty (so rather apt in the cold weather) eaten in the run up to “Fat Tuesday”. They are enriched sweet buns made with cardamom, which are then hollowed out, filled with marzipan and whipped cream. So as you can imagine, this is not at the lighter end of the culinary scale. And thus, they’re delicious.

I remember tucking into these when I lived in Sweden, and while I liked them, I probably didn’t track down the place in Stockholm that served the ultimate semla bun. So if you have any tips, these would be very welcome for my next visit.

With no trips to Scandinavia in the offing, there was just one thing for it – this year, I would actually turn try my hand at making semlor.

In fact, thinking back to the winter I spent in Sweden (many feet of snow…frozen sea…) brought a wry smile to my face. No matter how much snow there was, or how cold it got, life seemed to go on and things ticked along as usual. Contrast with here. There is a light air of panic on the streets of London at the moment, as people fear we will, at any moment, find ourselves under inches, nay, feet, of the white stuff. About three years ago, we had a dusting of snow that brought the city to a standstill – roads deserted, no buses, no underground. Admittedly that was an extreme, but today, when the flakes start to flutter from a heavy sky, there is always that little voice in your head saying – Psssst! Might be time to go home, you don’t want to be marooned at work! Lucky for me that I can walk to work (a brisk one hour, but doable!).

I mentioned that these buns are flavoured with cardamom, and I think that when it comes to spices, this is the only way to go. Lucky for me, as I happen to really like cardamom – and I think it’s a spice that is easily overlooked. I like the peppery lemon-like aroma and freshness that it brings to baked goods. So if you want your semlor to be authentic, stick with cardamom. I’m sure they are still delicious made with cinnamon or nutmeg, but I think the combination of cardamom works best with the marzipan.

There is also an interesting technique that you can do to fill the buns. Rather than just stuffing with marzipan, you use a fork to scoop out the insides. Then turn the insides into crumbs, add marzipan and some milk, then use your hands to mash it all together into a paste. Much easier for filling the buns, and it makes for a nice soft squishy marzipan filling. Yes, these are the sort of buns where the filling squirts out when you bite into them.

I’ve included a recipe below, but I have to give fair credit to Anna Brones, who write about her own attempt at making the family version of semlor as a guest on Kokblog (a great site, where foodie posts are paired with lovely illustrations of the cooking process). The original recipe is here, and when you read it, you will understand why I agree with Anna’s mother – “if you’re going to make something decadent, make something decadent. It has to be a real semla!” These were wise words to urge the use of real cream to fill these buns!

So…I made them, and I love them. The creamy-almond-cardamom combination is light and fresh, and they make a fantastic – and slightly naughty – treat with a cup of coffee on these chilly days. Now that I have, squirrel-like, stocked up on calorific food, all that remains is to see what the weather has in store for us. A couple of days of snow is fun, and London looks great on cold, clear days. But a little springtime warmth and a few daffodils peeking through the soil will be most welcome too.

To make semlor (makes 18 small or 10 large buns)

• 250ml milk
• 100 grams butter
• 2 teaspoons instant yeast
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 40g sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 egg
• 450g strong white flour

Put the milk in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the butter, and leave until the butter has melted. Mix well and allow to site until lukewarm.

Put all the ingredients, including the milk/butter mixture, into the bread machine tin and run the dough cycle.

When the dough is done, divide into portions (18 for smaller buns, 10 for larger buns). Roll into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth or cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Brush the buns with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven (200°C / 400°F) for 15 minutes (if necessary, turn the tray half-way through to ensure an even colour).

Once the buns are ready, place on a cooling tray and cover with a clean tea-towel (this catches the steam and makes the buns soft).

For the filling:

• 200g marzipan, grated
• 200ml milk
• insides of the buns
• 200ml double cream

Cut “lids” from the tops of the buns. Use a small fork to scoop out the inside of the buns. Put the insides into a bowl, and crumble with your fingers. Add the milk and marzipan, and work to a smooth paste. You can use a spoon, but it’s easier and more fun just to get in there with your hands. When smooth, fill the buns with the almond paste.

Whip the cream until stiff, then use to top the buns – either with a spoon, or use a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle. Use as little or as much as you like, but I would err on the generous side.

Place the “lids” back on top of the buns, then dust lightly with icing sugar.

Worth making?  While this recipe looks like a lot of work, if you’ve got a bread machine, it actually takes almost no time at all. You can also easily make the buns on day, and then fill them on the next. So on balance, easy to make and very, very delicious!

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{5} Lussekatter

On the fifth day of Christmas…this cook began to make…Swedish saffron buns! (Sing it to the theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas – it works!)

Lussekatter are typically eaten in Sweden for St Lucia on 13 December. This is a celebration of light in the middle of winter, with processions and candles. The dubious highlight (to an outsider at least) is the rather alarming scene of a culture that sends a  girl out in public with lit candles in her hair, but I guess there’s enough snow out there in case you detect the aroma of singed hair…

Pyrotechnics to one side, these saffron buns, however, are great.

In fact, it’s fair to say that they engage all the senses. First of all, they do look pretty – attractive shape, and the amazing colour, bright yellow tinged with golden brown. When you break the bread, you are struck by the vivid yellow colour of the dough, practically neon – it really is daffodil bright. As they bake, the kitchen is filled with the sweet aroma of saffron and yeast. Once they are baked, the buns are light and soft, and they have a lovely rich, buttery flavour highlighting the aroma of saffron. And as for sound…I guess you hear people making mmmmm noise as they eat them? So…all five senses duly engaged!

While I have not basis for saying this, I can see how lussekatter became so popular at this time of the year – they promise sunshine and the coming of spring. I mean, look just how yellow the dough is! But in the meantime, they make for a tasty snack to enjoy while it’s warm indoors and chilly outside.

To make lussekatter (makes 12):

• 1/2 teaspoon saffron threats (0.5g)
• 80g sugar
• 250ml milk

• 2 eggs (1 1/2 for the dough, 1/2 for glazing)
• 85g butter
• 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
• 450g flour

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the dough:

Start with the saffron – place on a plate and bake in a warm over for 1-2 minutes until the strands are dry. Mix the saffron with a tablespoon of the sugar, and grind until fine.

Next, bring the milk to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the saffron sugar mixture, stir, and leave to sit until the milk is lukewarm – it will will take on a glorious sunny yellow colour.

[If using a bread machine] Put 1 1/2 of the eggs and the rest of the ingredients (apart from the sultanas) into the bread machine, add the milk mixture, and run the dough cycle.

[If making by hand] In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour. Add the sugar, yeast and salt and mix well. Add the milk and 1 1/2 of the eggs, and knead well (around 10 minutes) until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.

To shape and bake the buns:

Knock back the dough and divide into 12 portions. Roll each into a long thin sausage, and then form into a reverse “S” shape. Place the buns onto a greased baking sheet, cover with a damp teatowel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. In the meantime, heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

When the buns are risen, brush with the reserved beaten egg, and place a sultana or raisin in the middle of the swirls. Bake for around 15 minutes – the buns should just be developing golden-brown patches, but the yellow colour should still dominate.

Worth making? This recipe might look a little complex, but it’s actually a breeze – just think of an enriched bread with saffron added! The flavour and aroma really make it worth the effort – the lussekatter are fantastic if eaten while still warm with a cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine.

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Dammsugare

Dammsugare. It’s Swedish for “vacuum cleaner”.

Really, over in Sweden, in old Stockholm town, they really do have a cake named after a household appliance.

Unsurprisingly, there are a couple of theories about how these things came to have such a curious name. The first (and probably more likely to be right) is that these cakes resemble the cylinders of old vacuum cleaners. The alternative is to do with what actually goes into them – no, not dust, but you do use cake crumbs. So…the story goes that these little fellows were created as a way of using up cake crumbs at the end of the day – they “vacuumed” them up, in a manner of speaking.


Origins aside, these are a real Swedish classic.

The “crumb” filling is a mixture of plain cake mixed with softened butter, cocoa and punsch. That’s punsch, not punch. It’s a Swedish liqueur made from Batavia arrack, which is sweet and flavoured with spices. If you can find it, use it, but otherwise, a glug of rum or spiced rum would do the trick. I am sure that the filling is probably sweeter if you use punsch rather than just rum, but the next stage will make that consideration one for purists only. For the filling is then wrapped in marzipan, and each end dipped in chocolate. Even the most ardent marzipan lover would have to admit that the stuff is darned sweet, so you’re not really going to be missing a little sweetness that you would have had from punsch rather than Caribbean dark rum.

What is great about these treats is that there is no baking required – if you’ve got to make them in a hurry, you can be done within the hour. It’s also good fun to make with kids, who will adore the mixing, the mess and the lurid green of the marzipan, although you might want to skip the booze.

And as for the green colour – I quite like them to be a lurid shade of green. I skipped the usual natural food colourings that I tend to favour and went for bright green. I don’t think they would have the same retro charm is they were a muted shade of delicate pistachio. These were shocking minty-green and all the better for it.

So there you go – you can make them in less than an hour, no real baking needed, and they look pretty. Great to enjoy with coffee as part of a morning fika…and for those sniggering, fika is the Swedish term for morning coffee. Perfectly innocent after all, eh?

To make dammsugare (makes around 10):

For the filling:

• 250g cake crumbs (e.g. vanilla sponge)
• 75g unsalted butter, softened
• 20g unsweetened cocoa powder
• 40ml punsch or rum

To decorate:

• 300g marzipan
• few drops green food colouring
• 200g dark chocolate

To make the filling:

Put everything into a bowl and mix well until you have a soft dough. It will be a little sticky and slightly crumbly. Form into 10-12 rolls.

To decorate:

Add some food colouring to the marzipan and knead well until evenly coloured. Sprinkle a worktop with icing sugar, and roll the marzipan into a long strip 2-3mm thick (you might find this easier in two or three batches).

Use the marzipan to cover the portions of dough – get a good seal on the underside, and pinch the end closed. Roll the marzipan-coated dough on the worktop to get a smooth finish. Keep going until all the dough pieces are covered.

Next, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler, and dip the ends of each dammsugare into the chocolate. If you want them to look professional with glossy chocolate, you can either temper the chocolate, or take the easy option – skip the tempering, and put the dipped dammsugare on a plate in the fridge to harden.

Worth making? Yes, they are quick, easy, fun and charmingly retro. Give ’em a try!

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Dream a little dream…

As you may have worked out by now, I have a bit of a thing for Scandinavian food, so I have turned my hand to making a Swedish specialty called drömmar (droo-mar).

The name translates as “dreams”. As you would expect from something with that sort of name, they are very light, melting little morsels. You’ve probably got a little bit of Mama Cass going around you head by now…

Now, the lightness really is their star quality.

These are really quite simple biscuits – just butter, sugar, flour and a dash of vanilla. The magic comes from what you add to make them rise. Not normal baking powder, but ammonium carbonate. This difference matters – it doesn’t just give baked goods a little lift, it releases a lot of gas so things get very puffy indeed. It was a bit of a saga to find this stuff, so I was quite excited to finally try making a cookie that I associate with my time living in Stockholm.

However, this magic powder has a downside. It stinks to high heaven!

I found this our pretty quickly. I made the dough – a breeze, took no more than five minutes (helpfully no need to bother chilling the dough) – shaped the biscuits, and put them into the oven. Boy did they rise!

Then…when I opened the oven to remove them, as expected, there was a horrid pong of, well, ammonia fumes that filled the kitchen for a moment. All I can say is that I am very, very glad I attempted this on a bright, breezy summer day, as all the windows were open and so the stink was quickly dispersed.

Having experienced the stink issue, but with the house once again fresh-smelling (i.e. not of ammonia), the cookies were ready.

They look good and strangely (given the earlier experience) they actually have a pleasant butter-with-a-hint-of-vanilla aroma. And they taste very good. Like shortbread, but with a very airy texture. You can see from the picture below that there are massive air pockets in the cookies, so they really are light as a feather – when you pick them us, they just don’t weigh anything. Most odd. Quite dreamy indeed.

When just baked, drömmar are crisp and light, but left overnight, they become a little softer. Either way is delicious, but which you prefer is up to you. Every Swedish mormor or farmor (grandmother) will have their own recipe, so this is just one version. There are others out there, and I make no claims that this is the only way to make them!!!

Biscuits made, I did a little research on this stinky but effective raising agent. Ammonium carbonate was originally known by the more poetic name salt of hartshorn, and was apparently derived from the horns of the male red deer (!). If you’re worried this might be cruel, I’m happy to note the antlers appear in the spring and are naturally shed each year, and in any event, these days you buy the chemical powder in stores. It inevitably features in German and Nordic baking, given that these are the areas in which the red deer might be found wandering in the forest, and in a lot of recipes, nothing else will really do if you want the requisite lightness. If you’re a curious Londoner, and don’t have deer roaming in the back garden, then you can buy it here.

The only limit on using this raising agent is that you need the stinky stuff to be expelled from the biscuits during baking – so it’s fine for small cookies, but you wouldn’t want to use it for a large cake. And just a couple of wise words to conclude – don’t eat the raw dough, as it tastes nasty until you bake it, and in case you are wondering – all the chemical stuff turns to gas, so there is nothing left in the cookies once they have been baked, and they are just sweet-smelling and tasty. And don’t we all like a bit of culinary alchemy?

If you’re still not happy using ammonium carbonate or just can’t find the stuff, use baking powder. You’ll get some lift, not as much as with the real thing, but still tasty.

So…relax, stick on a bit of Mama Cass, make a cup of tea and enjoy a couple of drömmar. Happy baking!

To make drömmar (makes 30-35):

• 200g unsalted butter
• 170g caster sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon ammonium carbonate
• 250g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°C). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Fold in the vanilla and ammonium carbonate.

Work the flour into the mixture until you have a soft dough.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. Place on the baking sheet (don’t flatten them), leaving at least 5cm (2 inches) between them.

Put the cookies into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. The balls will flatten down and then puff up, but will stay very pale.

Worth making? I was dubious about using ammonium carbonate in baking, but actually the outcome was great. The biscuits are lighter than anything I have ever made before, and there is of course the novelty factor of the stinky baking process. The mixture is ready in about 5 minutes, and can be made in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. As they say in Sweden – lycka till!

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Dillpotatis (Swedish Dill Potatoes)

Amidst all the world cup hysteria, a lot of people have overlooked Saturday’s royal wedding in Sweden. Crown Princess Victoria married her gym instructor – a modern fairytale. In honour of that, a Swedish-inspired dish today…

In the world of potato salads, there are those who like them to be creamy, those that like them sharp and acidic, and those that like them to be fresh and herby. I fall into the last category, as I like potato salad to be quite light, and something that lends itself to a summer picnic.

Why potatoes, why now? Because Jersey Royals are currently in British shops. These are early potatoes, which come only from the island of Jersey. They crop early, and have a rich, earthy taste – one of the flavours that signals summer is (almost) here. For those not in the UK, I am sorry to say that we benefit from virtually the entire crop, so you will have to keen an eye out for them next time you are visiting. For cooking, you can just scrape off the skin (I don’t bother), boil briefly, and they are delicious with a little butter and some chopped parsley. While they are a little more expensive than normal new potatoes, in my opinion, they are very much worth it.

However, this year I thought I would try something a little different with the little haul I picked up at the market, so I have made my take on the classic Swedish dillpotatis (literally “dill potatoes”). The Royal nature of these spuds also fits in with the Swedish wedding, so it’s clearly some sort of sign. For a potato salad, it is quite light, with just a little oil to allow the flavours of a few spices to come out and keep the dish moist. There is quite a lot of dill in here compared to others I have seen, but I think the freshness and aniseed flavours help keep the dish very “summery”. This is something that I came up with through trial and error based on what I ate in Sweden, and I think I have done quite well in producing something that showcases all of the ingredients. The tumeric works well with the spring onions, and its earthiness rounds out the flavour of the potatoes. It also makes the dish a vibrant neon yellow colour, which looks great and is all-natural.

For the potatoes:

• 500g potatoes (Jersey Royals or baby potatoes)
• 4 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• pinch of salt
• 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 25g dill, chopped (one generous handful of leaves, after you have removed the tough stalks)

If you feel the need, scrape the skins off the potatoes (don’t peel). It should come off quite easily if you use a table knife. Boil the potatoes until soft, then drain and allow to cool.

In a saucepan, heat the spring onions in one tablespoon of oil until soft. Add the salt, pepper and turmeric and cook for around 30 seconds. Add the spring onion mixture, the dill and 2 tablespoons of oil to the potatoes. Toss so that the potatoes are evenly coated. Chill before serving to allow the flavours and colour to develop.

Worth making? This makes a nice alternative to potatoes covered in mayonnaise. I particularly like the colour – the potatoes are golden, and the oil takes on a shocking neon colour which looks great on a white plate. You can also adapt it easily depending on what is in the cupboard – paprika, cumin, black onion seeds…

Final thought – congrats to the happy couple. They look great together and are clearly in love. A happy future together!

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On Location: Nordic Bakery (Soho, London)

I recently went to a Swedish café, but left broken-hearted when I didn’t have the Scandinavian love-fest I expected (see here).

Why was I so traumatised, you ask? I am a bit of a Swedophile. I lived there, loved it and still have very close Swedish friends. So after not finding cinnamon buns last time, I did a bit of digging and this brought me to the Nordic Bakery near Piccadilly Circus. Surely this place would have what I want? I arranged to meet a friend there, and I went on my merry way. To say that I went there with hopes and dreams on a cinnamon theme would be pretty accurate.

I arrived at the bakery in Golden Square (fab name, nice square full of flowers in the middle of pretty buildings) and I saw Nordic – and the words “Cinnamon Buns” were written in white Helvetica letters. Joy!

As I got there early, I sat down and ordered a rye bread with cheese and gherkin, a cinnamon bun and a coffee. To be accurate, the buns in Nordic are not the Swedish type (kanelbullar) that I had searched for, but the Finnish variety (korvapuusti). I didn’t care. I ordered anyway, and anticipated the sweet, slightly sticky cinnamon-cardamom-yeasty goodness. It arrived, still slightly warm, and I started to pick little bits off. And it was just great. I did get a couple of odd looks from the two Finnish ladies at the next table, but I think they recognised that I appreciated the baked goods on offer. The buns are yeast-risen, with many layers of thin dough and cinnamon paste. It was rich and aromatic, with little moments of fresh cardamom zing. Super, super, super.

My companion arrived, with another friend who was due to move to Paris the next day. I was glad that her final day in London was bathed in glorious sunshine, so she would remember the place at its very best.

We picked out some goodies but in view of the spectacular weather we decamped to the grass on Golden Square. As you can see, the interior of Nordic is great – chic, minimalist black tables and bare wood walls, cutlery and crockery from various Nordic designers. Really, a hundred times better than Fika. However, the lure of the sun was too much to resist. We took our selection outside: more cinnamon buns, rye bread, tosca cake (a moist honey-almond creation), cream cheese and pineapple buns (using yeasty dough rather than puff pastry) and a whole-wheat rice pastry. Each of them was, in turn, delicious, and the coffee was good. We liked that everything was fresh, well-made and delicious, and not overly sweet. Our soon-to-leave-us French friend even tried the cinnamon bun, and declared that this might just have cured her of her previous dislike of the spice which she attributed to Cinnabon’s ubiquity in the US. A triumph!

So…would I go back? 100% yes. In fact…eh….I’ve actally been there again since (twice in less than a week, am I an addict?). It is a lovely, relaxed place in a very busy neighbouhood, which just oozes that Scandinavian relaxed-but–hip vibe. Plus great cinnamon buns. This is what I wanted. I am glad I found it.

The Nordic Bakery, 14 Golden Square, London W1F 9JG. Tel: 020 3230 1077. Tube: Piccadilly Circus

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On Location: Fika (Shoreditch, London)

Fika means a Swedish coffee break, usually involving a little snack. I know this, because I used to live there. I loved living in Stockholm – lovely coffee bars, and great cakes and snacks. When looking for a place to meet my friend K a couple of days ago, I discovered Fika, a Swedish café/bar/grill with a roof terrace on Brick Lane. While we didn’t make it there in the end, I decided that I really did have to go. Yesterday, I did just that.

Book in hand and with a vague appointment to meet a friend there if she was able to come, I jumped on the tube and headed over to Fika. How would it be? Could I look forward to tucking into a range of Nordic goodies? On the way over, I had ideas kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) and dillpotatis (potato salad with dill) in my mind.

Fika has a pretty slick website, with a philosophy based around simple, fresh food. So far, so good. I turned up, and the place looked promising. The owners have gone for the pared-down Scandinavian shabby-chic minimalist look, with a few ironic twists (reindeer skulls decked out with pearls, astroturf cut into the shape of a reindeer). I checked my watch – it was 3.30pm, so time for coffee and a much-anticipated cinnamon bun.

Except…they didn’t have any cinnamon buns.

I was almost ready to turn around and walk out. What is the point in a Swedish cafe without cinnamon buns? I ordered my coffee and settled for what was euphemistically called a summer berry tart (in May – why?). This might have been alright if it had been cooked properly, but the middle was borderline raw and unpleasantly doughy. It had been heated slightly, I suspect in part to hide the fact it probably wasn’t quite cooked. This cake was not difficult or elaborate, so it pretty bad to flunk on something so simple. This place would last about five minutes on the streets of Södermalm in its current form.

Would I go back? No. Perhaps the mains and savoury dishes are better, perhaps it’s the coolest place on Earth when it gets busy, but frankly, I don’t really care. It’s cute enough as a place for a drink, but from what I had, there are other places on Brick Lane serving great coffee and (in my view) better food, so it’s not as if you need to settle.

Fika, 161a Brick Lane, London E1 6SB. Tel: 020 7613 2013. Tube: Shoreditch High Street.

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Swedish Limpa Bread

I’ve blogged about the freezing winter weather we had recently, but I can honestly say that it was nothing compared to the average Swedish winter I lived through a few years ago when I lived in Stockholm. That was much colder, but I think the real difference was the fact that Swedes embraced the cold weather as a fact of life, and were both prepared for it and got on with things. So we’ve just passed Easter and it’s still freezing…

So the point of all this is that when I was in Stockholm (a beautiful city which I really recommend visiting), I also developed a real soft spot for Swedish food. I like the simple savoury salads with dill, fresh vegetables in summer, wonderful dairy produce (such as filmjölk, a type of thin yoghurt) and their cinnamon-cardamom buns. On of my favourites was a bread called limpa which is made with rye, syrup and sometimes filmjölk, as well as spices. Even with the syrup, this bread still works very well for savoury open sandwiches or as a companion to a spicy soup. Making it is also a pleasure – once you’ve put the orange peel and crushed spices in a bowl, the aroma is wonderfully fresh. Plus, this is a nice chance to post about something other than sweets and cakes.

For the limpa loaf:

• 220g  plain flour
• 60g rye flour
• 1 package dry yeast
• 1 tablespoon dark sugar
• 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds
• pinch ground star anise
• 125ml water
• 60ml low-fat yoghurt yogurt
• 3 tablespoons black treacle or molasses
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Mix the flours, yeast, sugar, orange peel, salt, crushed seeds and star anise in a large bowl.

Add the water, yoghurt, butter and three spoons of treacle to a saucepan and cook until the butter melts. Add the coffee granules and stir well.

Now pour the warm liquid into the dry ingredients, and start to combine. The mixture will can be very sticky, so if this happens, add more flour to get the mixture but we do not want a ball to form – if this happens, you added too much flour and the loaf will be dry. Knead for around 7-8 minutes until elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in it, covering with a damp teacloth. Leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until almost doubled in size.

Next, punch down the dough, roll out to a rectangle in a floured surface, and then roll up the dough like a swiss role. Tuck the ends underneath the roll, and place into a lightly oiled bread tin. Leave the loaf somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size.

In the meantime, set the oven to 175°C. Once the loaf has risen, bake for 40-45 minutes. If you want to, after 20 minutes,  brush to top of the loaf with diluted treacle (50-50 treacle and water), and repeat 10 minutes later.

Once the loaf is cooked, allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Worth making again? This is not the sort of loaf that you would have for everyday use (for example, it doesn’t work too well in a bread machine), but it is nice from time to time when you have a spare morning and don’t mind coming back to it. I probably do this three or four times per year. The taste is quite unusual – the spices and orange make it aromatic, and there is a sweetness to it that isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I find it goes well with cheese in sandwiches. Or go the whole hog and make a smörgås (Swedish open sandwich) with cheese, dill and pickles.

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