Close your eyes as you tear apart a freshly baked kanelbullar or bite into a crunchy sweet serinakaker, and it’s almost like you can feel vivid puffs of reindeer breath on the back of your neck and hear the pounding of Viking feet returning to home soil after a session of pillaging. Scandinavia is a very special part of the world and I love its baking traditions as much as its modern reputation for über coolness in design circles.
Subtly aromatic with spices such as the long-ago Viking discoveries of saffron and cardamom, warming with cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, nutmeg, caraway and ginger, and so often comfortingly nutty and yeasty, Scandinavian baking offers a big, warm and deliciously edible hug. These recipes will take you on a quick but very satisfying bakery tour of Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Let’s start with sweet little serinakaker. These delightful almond butter biscuits are often included in the ‘Seven Sorts’ – the traditional array of cakes and cookies you’ll find on a Christmas table in Norway – but worth cooking and eating any day of the year.
Next stop is Sweden for some kladdkaka. The word ‘kladd’ means sticky, and this chocolate cake is possibly Sweden’s most popular for a very good and gooey reason. It’s rich, dense and deliberately undercooked so the centre stays nice and sticky.
Toscakake is a favourite in Denmark and Sweden. A buttery cake topped with a baked-on caramel-almond topping, it’s beautiful to behold and amazing to eat.
For one with lots of kid appeal (and as a treat for your inner child), I highly recommend skoleboller. These sweet cardamom-spiced buns, at home on afternoon tea tables all over Norway, have a luscious vanilla custard centre and a topping of glace icing and coconut. Kind of like an Aussie finger bun, but with custard.
Made with almonds and cinnamon, and perfect for dunking in a mug of coffee (and to make on 4 October – Sweden’s National Cinnamon Bun Day), kanelbullar are a wonderfully warming morning tea twist.
Finish the day with the very traditional Norwegian eplepai. Really an apple cake rather than an apple pie, but best served warm in scoops and eaten with eyes closed, picturing those reindeer and Vikings…
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Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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