June 26, 2012

Celebrating today

My lovely colleagues put on a beautiful morning tea for my birthday. Wasn't too bad after all being at work today. The Pavlova was absolutely delicious!

June 18, 2012

On Capital Hill

Parliament house

"Why the hell would you go to Canberra for a romantic weekend?"

Yes, my colleague does have a point. Why would you want to spend a cozy weekend in our nation's capital?  

Why not I say! Here are some of my top reasons:

- It's quiet.

- The air smells good.

- You can rent a segway. Wiiiii!

- There's hardly any traffic.

- There are lots of museums.

- They have Koko Black. I repeat they have Koko Black. End of discussion.

- You can actually spot a real Australian bird or two. And no offense to the imposter Sydneysider the Indian Myna bird, I saw a hawk, huge green parrots (Swift Parrots methinks), Cockatoos and Galah's. I haven´t seen that much colour since I left Perth, it was doing my head in!

- Oh, and I forgot to mention that the drive is straight down the highway from Sydney. Easy as.

Rhubarb and strawberry pancakes at Urban Food:


Hot chocolate at Koko Black:
Canberra Coco Black 3

Goodies from the Old Bus Depot undercover markets:



June 5, 2012

Classic Swedish Cinnamon Buns


It's the most popular and well known variety of Swedish baked goods, and I've been meaning to write about them for a while now. But whether I make these or not always depends on two things. Time... and fresh yeast. A few days ago I found myself with both so here goes. Lets talk about Cinnamon Buns.

You may have had some some kind of Australian sweet bun with icing (and more often than not sultanas). You've probably heard of or had American sticky cinnamon buns.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns my friends are none of these.They're no nonsense, soft sweet bread buns that have been filled with butter, sugar and cinnamon, often topped with pearl sugar. Of course you can use other fillings, but I´m talking the classic version here.

The buns are usually presented in scrolls, knots or vega style. Today I present you with the knotted version.

If you can't get your mitts on fresh yeast don't ask me how to subsitute it, because I really don't know.

Here's how you make them:

Classic Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Makes 48

130 g butter (salted or unsalted doesn't matter)
500 ml milk
50 g fresh yeast
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
100 ml sugar
2tsp cardamom seeds, ground in mortar and pestle
About 875 g plain flour

100 g butter, softened
75 ml sugar
2 tbsp good quality strong cinnamon (cassia)

1. Melt butter in a saucepan on the stove. Add milk and warm  until luke warm (37 degrees). You'll know it's lukewarm if you dip your little finger into the mixture and it is the same temperature as your finger.

2. In a bowl crumble the yeast and add the milk and butter mixture. Stir until dissolved with a wooden spoon.

3. Add sugar, salt, cardamom and almost all of the flour. Add the flour bit by bit until the dough is plyable but not overworked. Save some flour for later.

4. Let the dough rest in the bowl under a clean towel (away from drafts and aircon) for 30 minutes until doubled in size. 

5. Turn the oven  (conventional) to 225-250 degrees celsius. Mix softened butter, cinnamon and sugar to a paste.

6. Sprinkle some of the flour on a clean table or baking table. Knead the dough very gently and then divide in 2.
  7. Using a rolling pin, lightly shape the dough into two 25x50 cm slabs.

8. Spread half the filling over one half of a slab and then repeat with the other slab.

kanel pa bulle

9. Fold each slab together.


10. Cut your two slabs into into 2cm strips. Twist each strip.

bulle twisted

11. Make  each strip into a knot and place on a large baking sheet covered with baking paper. Leave the buns to leaven under a clean cloth for 30 minutes.

bullar plat 3use

12. Lightly whisk 1 egg and baste each bun with eggwash. Sprinkle pearl sugar on top of each bun.

13. Bake for 5-8 minutes in the middle of the oven.

14. Let cool under dry clean teatowels. Don't leave them out for too long!

15. Enjoy with a glass of milk. Best eaten within a day of making or freeze as soon as buns have cooled.

bullar och mjölk

June 4, 2012

The case of the Cinnamon imposter


"Do you know the difference between Cinnamon and Cassia"?

The question from the shop assistant takes me a bit by surprise. It shakes me out of my reverie amongst the spice shelves at Herbies in Rozelle, the one stop shop for all things spicy.

"Eh... Yes", I mutter, wanting to add a droll "doh".

Of course I know the difference between Cassia and Cinnamon. I'm pretty sure Cassia is like a Cinnamon imposter. A fake, less fragrant stepsister of Cinnamon.

How wrong I am.

I soon find out that in Europe most Cinnamon sold is actually Cassia. In Sweden Mexican and Indian cinnamon is also common. It's no wonder it's confusing.

Swedish journo Lisa Förare Winbladh writes that there are about 50 cinnamon related species of trees in the world but only one true type cinnamon - Ceylon Cinnamon. Discovered by the Dutch in Sri Lanka it is very delicate and mild. I sniff it at Herbies and to me the fancy cinnamon is the one that smells like the imposter. Delicate indeed. More like barely smells like anything at all.

At Herbies they tell me that it's not really suitable for baking and can be ruined by cooking. I later find out it is best suited in desserts or perchance with an apple compote.

Lisa Förare Winbladh writes that what we actually know and love as Cinnamon is almost always the stronger, more robust Cassia or other cinnamon varieties.
Growing up in Sweden I have fond memories of this lovely spice. Sprinkled over rice porridge for Christmas, in gingerbread, cakes and last but not least the Swedish Classic Cinnamon Buns.

I leave Herbies with a bag of Bakers Cassia and some high quality Cardamom seeds. When I try the cinnamon out a bit later I conclude that it's some of the best "Cinnamon" aka Cassia I've ever used.

 If you're a fan of this subtle and comforting spice I highly recommend Lisa Förare Winblad's article about cinnamon and cassia . You can read it in Swedish on her blog.