hasselnotskaka

If you like hazelnuts, this one’s a good way to go. This Swedish filbert cake was simple and delicious, and not too sweet. I baked it for my partner’s birthday in November and we liked it so much that I baked it for Thanksgiving, too. It works nicely as an after-dinner dessert but I think it works well as a coffee cake, too. I recommend pairing it with a cup of good black coffee and a healthy dose of Scandinavian travel planning.

chokladkaka

This post is a bit belated! But as I’m baking a new cake this weekend, it seemed the perfect opportunity to finally write this post and turn it into A Weekend of Cake.

I’ve made this recipe twice, both times in the spring. Chokladkaka is a Swedish chocolate pound cake – a really fantastic chocolate cake when you want something that’s light and not too rich. I made my first with my friend Alex when she was visiting – we lined the pan with butter but forgot to line it with crumbs, so the outside ended up a bit burnt (though the inside was still delicious). The second time, I made it for a dinner with some friends, and remembered not to skip this step! Vanilla wafers aren’t terribly easy to find in Hungary, though, so I wound up lining it with flour (which worked passably well).

I served it up with whipped cream and strawberries the first time, and the second time went for vanilla ice cream and strawberries – both worked very well. I love chocolate cake, and I love that this is a chocolate cake I can eat without feeling like I’ll get a stomachache.

stockholm

The beginning of a new semester in Hungary has brought my baking to a standstill for the time being, but I have a holiday weekend coming up and there are certainly more baking posts on the way! In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos from my quick trip up to Stockholm a few weekends ago. Sweden was lovely and I can’t wait to visit it again!

I grabbed a tin of pepparkakor at the airport on the way home, but they didn’t last too long (before I ate them all). Even though I think of pepparkakor as more of a Christmas thing, it’s inspired me to hopefully try my hand at my own sometime soon…

pulla

Oslo, January 2012

A belated happy new year to all of you! I am back in Hungary now, but I welcomed the new year with friends in Copenhagen, which I followed up with a trip to Oslo. Winter has always been my favorite season; I love the cold fresh air and and the quiet calm outside and especially the snow. So when Oslo got its first good snow of the winter while I was there, I was thrilled to death. And then I did what I always do: I baked.

I was fortunate enough to make it to another Sunday evening meal with my friend Camilla and her family up in Bærum while I was in Norway, and her family had been so good to me on my last visit that I wanted to bake them something. I thumbed through The Book and settled on a recipe for cardamom coffeebread, dubbed pulla. Beatrice tells a tale about the name of this particular bread:

“Although this bread is the basic yeast coffeebread of all Scandinavia, the name I give it is Finnish because of my own bias. The Swedes call it vetebröd, Norwegians call it hvetebrød, the Danes call it hvedebrød, and the Icelandics call it hveitibrauð. All of these names mean ‘wheat bread.’
The Finns who settled in the early 1900s in our country brought this recipe with them. At that time the Finnish word for wheat was nisu rather than vehnä, the modern name. (The Finnish language has been ‘Finnicized’ since the early part of this century, and all words that were too ‘Swedish’ such as nisu have been changed to more correct Finnish.) But many American Finns still call this bread ‘nisu,’ and the debates become heated! Where I grew up, however, we called this bread ‘biscuit.’ . . . The name pulla, however, arises from the Swedish bollar, which is translated as ‘bun.’ But pulla is most often shaped into a braided loaf. All very confusing!”

This is a bread with many names.

We added one more name once we got up to Camilla’s family home – her father Fred misheard me when I tried to tell him it was hvetebrød, and he thought I said flettet brød, or “braided bread.” It is perhaps the most apt description of any of the names! It is indeed braided bread.

This is one of my favorite recipes out of the book thus far. It really bats it out of the park, in my opinion. I’ve become really comfortable with yeast doughs in the last few months, and this recipe bakes up into three really lovely soft loaves that you can pull apart with ease (but that hold together quite nicely if you’re trekking around on Oslo’s public transportation system with freshly baked bread in tow, as I was). And the cardamom is the perfect amount. I was happy to have friends to give loaves away to, or else I’d easily have scarfed them all down myself!

I’ll leave you with just a few photos of the trips to Copenhagen and Oslo. I can’t wait to go back.

mazarinkakor

These are billed as “Swedish chocolate-frosted almond bars,” and they live up to their name! I never tire of recipes with almond in them, and this one was a fairly simple one involving a base/crust, an almond filling, and a chocolate drizzle on top. Ojakangas recommends using a 13 x 9 inch rectangular pan, but my Hungarian kitchen is still somewhat lacking, so I used what I had on hand – a round baking dish, probably closer to 10 or 11 inches in diameter. Whether or not this had an effect on the end result, it’s hard to say, but I would like to try this recipe again in a pan more like the one Ojakangas uses. The bars were definitely delicious, but the base came out more crumbly and the filling more gooey than I expected. I’ll probably try it out for my family at Christmas – my parents’ kitchen is sure to have the size pan the recipe calls for!

chokladtarta

Baking for friends is truly one of my favorite things about baking recipes from this book, and this one was no exception. My friend Damien had a birthday earlier this month and I promised to bake him a proper birthday cake when he got home from tour. He picked out the chokladtarta, a nutty chocolate layer cake with layers of cream filling and a chocolate glaze over top. This is easily the most involved (and decadent) recipe I’ve baked from the book so far.

The recipe gives you a list of choices of nuts for your cake layers; I had walnuts and almonds on hand but in the end decided to go for the walnuts. The cake layers are prepared first, then the cream “filling” (which goes between your cake layers) and lastly the dark chocolate glaze is made and drizzled over the top of the cake. My wonderful friend Brad helped out with the glaze and a few supplies (I’ve just moved house and my new kitchen isn’t quite set up yet).

The resulting cake was extremely rich but super delicious, and enjoyed by Damien + friends at a local open mic night last night. After an amazing Thanksgiving weekend, it was a night I was very grateful to be with friends. Happy belated, D.