Baking bread – a few thoughts and a recipe

Baking bread is difficult. Baking Bread takes too long time. Baking bread isn’t worth it when I can just go to the store and buy a loaf.

Ok. Let’s talk about this. Baking bread is about measuring, which you can easily do if you have a scale, and kneading which is also easy if you have a mixer (kneading by hand is hard I will admit). It doesn’t have to take a long time. Sure if you plan to make a sourdough loaf it will take time because you first have to cultivate the starter, but below I’m giving you a recipe for a sourdough-like bread with a shortcut.

Now, is it worth baking bread when you can very easily buy a good loaf at the store. YES! Maybe not every time you want bread, but once in a while it’s definitely worth it. As your bread bakes in the oven, your home will fill with a wonderful smell and as you cut the first slice of warm bread, butter it and taste it, you will agree, your family probably will too (if you decide to share it ūüėä). It was worth it.

So here is the recipe, adapted from Danish baker and chef, Claus Meyer.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg all-purpose flour
  • 200 gr whole wheat flour
  • 30 gr flake sea salt
  • 3.5 gr instant yeast
  • 3 1/3 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in the mixer bowl.
  2. Knead the dough on slow for 4 minutes, followed by 6 minutes on high.
  3. Cover the bowl and placed it in the fridge overnight.
  4. The next day, turn the dough onto a flour-dusted countertop and cut it into 3 equal parts.
  5. Shape each part into round loaves by turning the dough under itself a few times until the top is smooth and place each one on flour-dusted parchment paper.
  6. Lightly grease some food plastic wrap and use it to cover the loaves. Let them rise on the countertop for a couple of hours.
  7. When there is about 45 minutes left of the rising time, place a bake stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  8. Use a pizza peel or a flat cookie sheet to move the loaves from the countertop into the oven (with the parchment paper) and place them carefully on the pizza stone.
  9. Bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes but keep an eye on them to makes sure they don’t get too dark on the top.
  10. Let the loaves cool on a rack. Make sure you taste the bread while it’s still warm (but not hot).

Enjoy!

A recipe for crepes, aka Pandekager in Danish

In Denmark, we call crepes pandekager which means pancakes. As a child, my mom made them for us as dessert but sometimes also for dinner in which case she would leave out the sugar and make a savory filling instead.

The filling options are endless. For the sweet version, my preference would be my mom’s homemade jam and perhaps a little sprinkle of sugar.

Crepes are really easy to make. Have a try with the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 125 gr. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tsp cane sugar
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar (can leave out if you use the protein powder)
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • butter for the pan

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk everything together until you see no lumps of flour
  2. Let the batter rest, covered, in the fridge for 20-25 minutes
  3. Once ready, heat a non-stick pan and let a small pad of butter melt
  4. When the pan is hot, pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto the pan and spread it by tilting the pan (you may need to use more or less, depending on the size of your pan)
  5. Turn the pancake once you see the edges get brown and let it cook on the other side
  6. Continue until you have used all the batter. Melt more butter if needed after you make a few pancakes
  7. Serve warm with sugar, jam, berries, whipped cream, ice cream, Nutella, chocolate or whatever you’re in the mood for!

Enjoy!

A Uniquely Danish Story

These rolls are associated with a uniquely Danish holiday and tradition that originates back several centuries.

Stor Bededag (translated into English it would be Great Prayer Day or All Prayers Day) falls on the 4th Friday after Easter. The name comes from the fact that it was a consolidation of several minor holy days and it was first introduced in 1686. 

On Stor Bededag nobody was allowed to work. That included bakers and so they would bake these wheat rolls for everyone to buy the day before. On Stor Bededag, people would toast the rolls and eat them, usually just with butter. 

To this day, it is a holiday that is observed as a day off from work and by enjoying these kinds of wheat rolls. Actually many have made it a tradition to have them the evening before Stor Bededag, toasted and with butter.  

The rolls have a lovely taste of cardamom and to me it‚Äôs no wonder they have stood the test of time! 

When life gives you bananas, you make….

You know where I’m going, right? You buy a bunch of bananas which end up not getting eaten before they turn brown at which point nobody wants to eat them. What to do? You make banana bread of course!

For those of you with kids, this banana bread makes for a great after-school snack. It’s made with only whole wheat flour (can’t tell), a reduced amount of sugar and some added protein.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 230 gr. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 150 gr. chocolate chips
  • 4 or 5 medium sized bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 150 gr. brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350¬įF.
  2. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, oil, sugar, and eggs.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Stir this into the banana mixture and mix thoroughly to make sure the ingredients are fully combined.
  5. With the help of a spatula, pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for about 50 to 60 minutes. Test to make sure it’s done by inserting a thin knife or a long toothpick into the center. It must come out without any wet batter. If the bread is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes of the baking time. 
  7. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. This banana bread can easily be frozen.

Enjoy!

Soda bread, a sign of spring

Making Soda Bread reminds me that spring is around the corner. Spring is definitely something to look forward to with more outdoor time which this year may give us more together time too, as things will have it.

I didn’t grow up with Soda Bread but I love it and it does remind me of the delicious raisin bread my mom sometimes got my sister and I as a treat when we were kids. ¬†

For this bread I use Irish-style whole meal flour which is a whole grain flour. It makes the bread more dense and more filling. I also add caraway seeds, giving it a distinct flavor that goes so well with the sweetness of the raisins.  

Enjoy this bread with brunch or as a snack in-between meals. It also makes for an easy after-school snack. You can freeze it and take up a slice or two when anyone is in the mood.

Ready to order yours? Check it out here.

A classic (and sticky) Danish cake

Brunsviger is a popular Danish Cake. The name is hard to translate. “Brun” is brown in Danish but I’m not sure how I would convey “sviger” in English. Many claim that it originated on the Danish island of Funen (the same island where Hans Christian Andersen was born) but nobody knows for sure. What the records do show is that the cake is quite old, meaning the recipe first appeared in 1873!

Brunsviger

But enough about the history of this cake. Now to the good stuff – how it tastes! I don’t think I’ve ever met a Dane who hasn’t tasted Brunsviger. Its sticky, gooey topping is what makes it special. Because I love the traditional Danish spices of cinnamon and cardamom, I did add a pinch of cardamom to the cake itself and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the topping. That isn’t the traditional way but it’s good! Brunsviger is often used as a birthday pastry by being made into a cake man/boy or cake woman/girl depending on whose birthday itself. For those occasions, it is decorated with candy, making it look very festive.

It’s an easy cake to make so I hope you will try it. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 50 gr butter
  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp dry instant yeast
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • pinch of cardamom (optional)
  • 275 gr all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 200 gr butter
  • 200 gr brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Directions

Warm the milk. Add the butter and let it melt. Pour into bowl for a stand mixer or any other bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl along with the egg. Knead the dough in the mixer or with a wooden spoon until smooth. It will be a bit sticky.

Line a square baking pan/brownie pan with parchment paper. Spread the dough onto the parchment paper with wet fingers. Let it rise, covered, on the countertop for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

While the dough is rising, make the topping by melting the butter and brown sugar in a pot while stirring. Once melted, add the cinnamon, if using, and mix well. Let it cool.

Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Stir the topping again before pouring it over the cake.

Bake the cake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool on a rack before slicing.

Happy baking!

A delicious breakfast roll

I bake rolls quite often because it’s such an easy thing to have on hand for breakfast during the week. Usually I make a double portion so I have enough to put some in the freezer. When we want them for breakfast, I’ll take a few out of the freezer the night before and warm them up in the morning.

The rolls I made this morning are made with some whole grain flour, carrots, cranberries (without added sugar) and walnuts. Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and a little bit of allspice enhance the flavors of these ingredients and make the rolls smell soooo good! Check out the recipe below.

Breakfast roll with carrots, cranberries and walnuts

Ingredients

  • 6 3/4 oz milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 tsp flake salt
  • 100 gr whole wheat flour or other whole grain flour
  • 350 gr unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 10 gr dry instant yeast
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of ground allspice
  • 50 gr butter, softened
  • 1 egg combined with 1 Tbsp of water for brushing the rolls

Directions

Whisk together milk, eggs and sugar in a stand mixer. Add shredded carrot, cranberries, walnuts, salt and whole grain flour. Let it sit for a few minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, yeast and spices. Work in the butter until it’s crumbly.

Slowly add the flour/butter mixture to the other mixture using a stand mixer. Knead the dough until well combined. It will be sticky.

Let the dough rise, covered in a bowl on the countertop for about 1 hour.

Shape 12 rolls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cover them with cling wrap and let them rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Towards the end of the rise time, turn the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the rolls with the whisked egg and water. Bake them for about 15-18 minutes.

Happy baking!

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Fastelavn – a Danish celebration

As a child I used to look forward to Fastelavn because it was a day filled with fun and goodies, similar to Halloween. But unlike Halloween, Fastelavn always falls on a Sunday, between February 1st and March 7th, and always 7 weeks before Easter.

My friends and I, like most children in Denmark, would dress up in costumes, walk door to door in our neighborhood and sing a song when people opened their doors asking for treats or else…..

This year Fastelavn will look differently, just like our Halloween last year was different in the way we had to celebrate. But no matter what, people will still enjoy the special pastries that are traditionally served around the time of Fastelavn. Fastelavnsboller, as they are called, are sweet rolls with fillings such a jam, vanilla cream or whipped cream.

Fastelavn falls on the same day as Valentine’s Day this year and I think Fastelavnsboller are the perfect, indulgent treat to mark the day of love! ‚̧ԳŹ I offer two kinds – one filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam, another filled with vanilla cream and chocolate. If you’d like to place an order, click here.

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Nothing like fresh homemade rolls

There really isn’t anything as good as coming home to the wonderful smell of homemade rolls! On second thought, eating those rolls is THE BEST.

My sister and I still talk about the memories we have of coming home from school, smelling the rolls that our mom had just baked for our afternoon snack, which we enjoyed all together while talking about our day. That is “hygge” for you.

Today, at my house, was a day that called for homemade chocolate rolls. And they were just coming out of the oven as my son and husband returned from their hike.

I want to share the recipe in case you feel inspired to bake them yourself. They are made with both cinnamon and cardamom which make them extra tasty. Check out the recipe below.

Chocolate Rolls with cinnamon and cardamom

Ingredients

  • 6 3/4 oz milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 125 gr whole wheat flour
  • 300 gr unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 10 gr dry instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp flake salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 100 gr butter
  • 125 gr dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg for brushing the rolls

Directions

Warm the milk until it’s lukewarm. Add the eggs and sugar. Whisk to combine.

Mix the flours, salt, cinnamon and cardamom in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour until the butter is pea sized.

Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. Knead the dough until well combined, either in the mixer or on flour-dusted countertop. Then fold in the chopped chocolate.

Let the dough rise, covered in a bowl on the countertop for about 1 hour.

Shape 12 rolls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cover them with cling wrap and let them rise for another hour.

Towards the end of the rise time, turn the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the rolls with the whisked egg and bake them for about 15 minutes.

Happy baking!

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Danish Æbleskiver

Æbleskiver are mainly served at Christmas time in Denmark. They are made of a pancake-like batter, baked in a special on the stove.

If you translate the word “√¶bleskiver” directly into English it would be “apple slices”. But √¶bleskiver are round and do not contain apple (at least most modern versions don’t). They do, however, offer lots of flavor with cardamom as the main spice and a little bit of beer in the batter.

The recipe has slight variations, but the recipe I use is a family treasure that shall never be changed. Once my mom offered us √¶bleskiver from different recipe, which we quickly rejected, and it was agreed that we will always stay with the “old” version.

My mom usually serves them with her own homemade blackberry jam and some powdered sugar for dipping. I do the same although I often make a mixed berry jam instead. But that’s all I change. And of course, there is the warm spiced drink called gl√łgg which we usually serve to accompany the treats. It warms you up and easily fills you with the Christmas spirit.

I love traditions, especially at Christmas!