Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns and A Visit to the Swedish Embassy

Yesterday morning I trotted off to the Swedish embassy, with my Swedish pal, for breakfast……as you do. I was invited to learn more about Swedish food and the distributers here in the UK – take a look at ScandiKitchen. It’s the kind of invitation that you just can’t turn down.

The embassy is a stones throw (perhaps a David and Goliath stones throw if I am being honest) from Oxford street. With the blue flags with yellow crosses flying in the wind outside we bounded in to meet Mr Ambassador himself.

 

The breakfast spread was breathtaking with so much choice and variety of delicious looking and tasting Swedish foods. A wide range of smoked salmon, fresh salmon, herrings pickled in all manner of things, soft cheeses, hard cheeses, eggs, pate, breads, biscuits as well as porridges, yogurts, waffles, jams. It was definitely ‘kid in a candy store moment’.

The drinks accompany breakfast used all manner of tasty berries – apparently in Sweden alone there are over 25 varieties of edible berries. I sampled lingonberry drink, rosehip, Swedish berry smoothie, Swedish style drinking yoghurt, blueberry soup.

Hidden by one of the windows were the pastries and my eye was immediately drawn to the ubiquitous Swedish cinnamon buns. I have been meaning to make some recently so thought it would be a perfect match with this blog post to make some and include the recipe so you too can make yourself at home. Whilst they are perfect eaten warm, straight out of the oven, you can also freeze them. Once defrosted just place them in a warm oven for a few minutes to heat through.

Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

Makes around 20

To make the dough

750g plain all purpose flour

100g caster sugar

pinch of salt

2 tsp ground cardamom

350ml milk

120g unsalted butter

14g easy bake yeast

sprinkling on top of each bun of pearl sugar *

1 egg, beaten

 

for the filling

110g soft unsalted butter

90g light brown sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon powder

 

  1. First you need to make the dough. In a large bowl sieve the flour and then add the caster sugar, cardamom powder and salt.
  2. In a pan gently heat the butter and when it is melted add the milk, keeping on a very low heat (you want it luke warm and not hot), and fresh yeast and stir so that the yeast is well mixed. Take off the heat and make a whole in the centre of the flour and add the wet ingredients. Gently stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. Once the dough has come together use your hands to bind it firmly so that it is soft and does not stick to your hands as much. Take out of the bowl and place on a cold, clean work surface with a sprinkling of flour and knead for around 8 minutes. The dough will become very pliable and if it is still a little sticky just add a little flour until you can comfortably knead it.
  4. Transfer it to a lightly greased mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm and a tea towel. Leave in a warm, dark place for an hour so that it can double in size.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling by combing all the ingredients above together to make a smooth paste.
  6. I tend to make these in two batches as you need to properly spread out your buns or else they will merge into each other.
  7. Using half the dough (cover the remaining dough and leave in a warm dark place) roll it out into a rectangle to a few mm in thickness. Place half the filling on the dough and using the longer side of the dough gently roll. Make incisions through the dough using a serrated knife so that you end up with around 10 buns. Place on baking paper in an oven tray with the cut side of the bun facing upwards or in individual cake holders. Brush each bun with the beaten egg and scatter each bun with the pearl sugar. Leave to one side whilst your oven heats up.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C/450°F and when it has reached this heat reduce it to 190˚C/350˚F and place the buns in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your next batch using up the remainder of the filling and repeat.
  9. Eat straight away warm, or you can store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for a couple of months. If freeze, thaw thoroughly and then heat up in a warm oven for a few minutes before eating.

*you could also use demerara sugar or chopped walnuts or pecan. 

 

 


Pastry Heaven

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Every so often an invitation turns up that you simply cannot refuse.  I was very fortunate to receive one of these golden tickets recently. It involved what promised to be, and indeed was, a truly memorable occasion, on a balmy September afternoon at the stunning location that is the  French Ambassador’s residence in London.

The event was a ‘Charity Champagne Afternoon Tea’, with all the money raised from the tickets and raffle going to support the  Ashinaga Scholarship in Japan, a wonderful cause that supports children who lost their parents in the earthquake and tsunami with their studies.

The tea was no ordinary tea however. It was more ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in its manifestation than an English afternoon cream tea. The reason being was that it was meticulously prepared by London’s finest pastry chefs and chocolatiers. The roster included Lauduree, The Lanesborough, The Wolseley, The Langham, Claridges, The Arts Club, Inamo, Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons, Melt, Roux Fine Dining, Valrhona and Rococo Chocolates. In short, it was foodie heaven and an enormous privilege.

The sun shone and guests spilled out onto the lawns of the embassy. It had a wonderful Great-Gatsby-esqe feel , indeed I would not have been surprised had Jay Gatsby sauntered across the lawn with a macaroon in hand.

I had to share with you some of the pastries that had been prepared for the occasion.

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These stunning creations were prepared by Nick Patterson, Head Pastry Chef at Claridges. I loved the way they were presented, with the little pink lights reflecting through a glass platform.

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The ‘Japanese flag’ inspired pastries were eagerly devoured.

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Laurent Couchaux, principle chocolatier from Rococo Chocolates created these wonderful chocolates. You can see which ones I was eating.

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These chocolate mousses went down a treat.

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These chocolate dainties were going like hot cakes!

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Special thanks go to the organisers: Fabien Ecuvillon, Consultant Chef and Founder of Pastry Network, Miho Nozawa, Dana Arce and Sachiko Bush. A truly memorable event.