Chocolate knots

A fresh take on the Swedish cinnamon bun, without the cinnamon.

The Scandi Kitchen – Bronte Aurell

Makes 16

Ingredients:
13 g dried yeast or 25 g fresh yeast *(see below)
250 ml whole milk, heated to 36–37°C
80 g butter, melted and cooled slightly
40 g caster sugar
400–500 g white strong flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
flaked almonds, to decorate

Filling:
50g butter (softened)
75g light brown sugar
4 large heaped tbsp hazelnut spread
1 tsp plain flour

Syrup:
3 tablespoons golden syrup and 6 tablespoons water, heated in a saucepan
2 baking sheets, greased and lined with baking parchment

 

*If using fresh yeast, add the warm milk to a mixing bowl and add the yeast; stir until dissolved, then pour into the bowl of the food mixer.

Method:

Pour the warm milk into a bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and whisk together. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to become bubbly. Pour into the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start the machine and add the cooled, melted butter. Allow to combine with the yeast for 1 minute or so, then add the sugar. Allow to combine for 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, weigh out 400 g of the flour, add the salt and mix together. Start adding the flour into the milk mixture, bit by bit. Add half the beaten egg.

Keep kneading for 5 minutes. You may need to add more flour – you want the mixture to end up a bit sticky, but not so much that it sticks to your finger if you poke it. It is better not to add too much flour as this will result in dry buns. You can always add more later.

Once mixed, leave the dough in a bowl and cover with a dish towel or clingfilm. Allow to rise for around 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Dust a table top with flour and turn out the dough. Using your hands, knead the dough and work in more flour if needed. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 40 x 50 cm rectangle.

To make the filling, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Using a spatula, spread the butter evenly over the rolled-out dough.

Fold half the dough on top of the other, lengthways (you will end up with a 20 x 50-cm rectangle). Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut 16 widthways strips of dough. Carefully take one strip and twist it a few times, then roll into a ‘knot’, carefully ensuring both ends are under or inside the bun so they do not spring open during baking. Place each bun on the baking sheet and leave to prove under a dish towel for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C Gas 6.

Brush each bun lightly with the remaining beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes. Watch the buns as they bake: they can go dark very quickly and you may also need to move the buns around in the oven if they are not baking evenly. When golden, remove from the oven and immediately place a damp clean dish towel on top for a few minutes to prevent the buns from going dry. Brush the warm syrup lightly over the buns and decorate with flaked almonds.

 

Real Swedish meatballs

There are as many recipes for meatballs in Scandinavia as there are cooks. Recipes vary regionally, too, both in ingredients and sizing. Sadly, nowadays a lot of people buy meatballs instead of making them. The homemade version is so very wholesome and worth the effort. Serve with creamy mashed potato.

The Scandi Kitchen – Bronte Aurell

Serves 6

For the meatballs:
30 g porridge oats or breadcrumbs
150 ml meat stock (chicken works well, too)
400 g minced beef
250 g minced pork (minimum 10% fat)
1 UK medium egg
2 1⁄2 tablespoons plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper
a dash of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
1 small onion, grated
butter and oil, for frying
mashed potato, to serve

For the stirred lingonberries:
250 g frozen lingonberries (available in some speciality food stores and online)
100 g caster sugar

Cream gravy:
meat stock
1 tablespoon plain flour
a good glug of single cream
salt and ground black pepper

Method:

If using oats, soak them in the meat or chicken stock for 5 minutes.

Mix the minced meat with a good pinch of salt for a couple of minutes in a food processor to ensure it’s blended thoroughly.

Add the eggs, flour, spices and Worcestershire or soy sauce to another bowl and mix with the soaked oats or breadcrumbs and grated onion, then add this to the meat mixture. You’ll have a sticky, but moldable, mixture. Leave the mixture to rest for 20–25 minutes before using.

Heat up a frying pan with a small knob of butter or oil and shape one small meatball. Fry it until done and then taste it. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and fry another meatball to test it until you get it just right.

Shape the individual meatballs in your hands – it helps if your hands are damp. Each meatball should be around 2.5 cm/1 in. in diameter, or larger if you haven’t got time.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan with a dash of oil and carefully add a few meatballs – make sure there is plenty of room for you to swivel the pan round and help turn them so they get a uniform round shape and do not stick. You’ll most likely need to do this in several batches. Cooking time is usually around 5 minutes per batch. Keep in a warm oven until needed.

When your meatballs are done, keep the pan on a medium heat. Ensure you have enough fat in there, if not, add a knob of butter to the pan. Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk, then add a splash of stock and whisk again as you bring to the boil. Keep adding stock until you have a good creamy gravy, then add a good dollop of single cream and season well with salt and pepper. The colour of the gravy should be very light brown.

To prepare the stirred lingonberries (rårörda lingon) simply add the caster sugar and stir. Leave for a while and then stir again, until the sugar dissolves and the berries have defrosted. Store leftover stirred lingonberries in the fridge.

Serve with mashed potatoes.