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Spice up with saffron – Lussekatter

19 Dec

As regular readers know, we have a strong Swedish thread through the blog (not least due to co-author Caroline being Swedish). Back in October, I spent a few hours in the Peters’ Yard bakery – a wonderful experience. I was lucky enough to meet the man behind their fabulous recipes Jan Hedh was in Edinburgh to talk about his new book Swedish Breads and Pastries which I recommend for the serious baker.

Now, I know you are all frantically busy, but you might just want to try this recipe when you have some time. Easier still, pop into the bakery and try them.

You’ll need to set the raisins to soak a few hours in advance. Saffron is best used in moderation, you might just want to use a few strands the first time you make the recipe.

Jan Hedh’s Saffron Buns/Lussekatter

(makes 20 buns)

Saffron Buns (s-shaped buns on the right of the picture). Courtesy of Peters' Yard
Saffron Buns (on the right)

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Who lives there? Making a gingerbread house

15 Dec
Three houses, waiting for a lick of icing. And a sweet or two.

Three houses, waiting for a lick of icing. And a sweet or two.

The ultimate Christmas decoration to me isn’t a Christmas tree but a gingerbread house. I remember listening outside the kitchen as a child while my mother swore and burned herself on the caramel used to put the house together. As soon as she was finished, the caramel hardened and her hands wrapped in towels and ice, it was my turn. My turn to make the gingerbread house mine with sticky icing and colourful sweets.

I’ve only made one gingerbread house since I came to Scotland but that was a corker of a house. Ever so pretty, it was. This year, rather missing the practice, I invited friends to join me. Here are our creations and a recipe so you can make your own.

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The best bakery in Edinburgh? Peter’s Yard

7 Oct
Peter's Yard Cafe and Bakery

Peter's Yard Cafe and Bakery

For those of you based in Edinburgh, you’ll have probably come across Peter’s Yard Cafe and Bakery when walking through the Meadows or coming through the new Quarter mile development. It’s a sleek glass building with a distinctly Swedish feel to it. Inside, there is plenty of wood, comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere. Peter’s Yard opened in 2007 and its reputation grows with every month. Just recently, master baker Dan Leppard writing in the Times, placed the bakery in the top 10 of small bakeries in Britain.  I was keen to find out more.

Preparing Baguettes at Peter's Yard

Preparing Baguettes at Peter's Yard

One morning recently, I arrived at 7 am to watch head baker Georgie Crisp at work. Georgie is passionate about what she does. She admits that getting in to work at 4 am does rather affect her social life, but being head baker more than makes up for it – it is simply her dream job. After completing a general catering course, she started to explore breadmaking. On a two-week stage with Mark Lazenby at Cinnamon Twist in Helmsley, she realised she had found her passion.

Much of bread making is in the preparation, you need to plan and make ahead. Georgie has several different sour dough “mothers” in unprepossessing buckets ready to add to the bread flour. Each need careful feeding each day to ensure it keeps alive.  Sour dough starters are used in all the rye-based recipes. For other breads including baguettes, fresh yeast is used. The baguette dough is made 12 hours before it is needed and placed into a special proving cabinet to gently grow over night.

There is a large French-made cooker with different ovens set at pre-programmed, tried and tested temperatures ready to accommodate a particular recipe. The bread is steamed as it cooks helping a good crust form – Georgie leaves the door of the oven open for a few minutes at the end of the baguettes’ cooking time to make it just that bit crisper. I was very taken with the special “roller blanket” which ensures you can deftly put your bread into the oven without using a peel.

Placing the baguettes on the roller blanket

Placing the baguettes on the roller blanket

In short time that I am in the kitchen, Georgie makes baguettes, foccacia, sweet buns with vanilla filling, cardamom buns and pizza dough and up until 2pm she will make an amazing range of items  including crispbreads (now those you can order online).

Georgie Crisp, Head Baker

Georgie Crisp, Head Baker

George and I agree that baking is magical.

Georgie is certainly a magician and Peter’s Yard probably the best bakery in Edinburgh. Visit soon won’t you? And please leave me at least one bun …

Making Cardamom Buns

The best seller, and my personal favourite, is the cardamom bun. For me, cardamom is the spice that really sums up Swedish cooking  and in this recipe it is the star ingredient. It’s a long, tricky process to make the bun. A basic dough is made and left to rest,  butter, sugar and spice is added and kneaded again. The dough is folded and  threaded through a machine (rather like a laundry press) to make it thinner and thinner, and is folded and thread through again. A filling of cinnamon, butter, treacle and syrup is spread over the dough. Then Georgie cuts it into strips each weighing 85 grammes and deftly twists the pieces before being rolled into a spiral. After another short rest period, they’re baked.

Adding the cardamom bun filling

Spreading the filling on the cardamom dough

Twisting the dough into shape

Twisting the dough into shape

Proving the Cardamom Buns

Proving the Cardamom Buns

The famous Peter's Yard Cardamom Bun

The famous Peter's Yard Cardamom Bun

Peter’s Yard Coffee House and Bakery
Quartermile, 27 Simpson Loan
Edinburgh EH3 9GG

0131-228 58 76
info@petersyard.com
twitter.com/petersyard

Photographs by Brendan MacNeill except exterior shot. A very big thank you for Peter’s Yard inviting me into the kitchen.

A Swedish favourite: crayfish party at Joseph Pearce, Edinburgh

31 Aug
Green dill, red crayfish and golden snaps. Life is good.

Green dill, red crayfish and golden snaps. Life is good.

Crayfish. Some countries go mad for these little critters. They are eaten all over the world but they are eaten with particular fervour and ceremony in Sweden. The Swedes  lure crayfish out of the murky waters they favour to pop them into boiling dill-flavoured liquor and transform them from brown-black wall flowers to bright red belles of the ball. It is my immense pleasure to announce that a traditional crayfish party can now be experienced in Edinburgh.

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The Swedish Trilogy, 3: Crispbread

27 Jul
Crunchy and tasty artisan crispbread

Crunchy and tasty artisan crispbread

There’s more to bread than fluffy white stuff. My Swedish heritage means that I have very particular ideas about what makes good bread. White toasting bread isn’t it. Toasting bread in general, isn’t it. I accept a baguette, can deal with foccacia and adore pumpernickel. I hunt high and low for sturdy rye bread, a sweet and sticky syrup loaf and proper crispbread.  Not Ryvita. Real crispbread.

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The Swedish Trilogy, 2: Snaps

22 Jul
Working up an appetite and a thirst

Working up an appetite and a thirst

Midsummer. On the terrace sit 15 people, tired from dancing around the maypole, eating a traditional Swedish buffet (you know it as a smörgåsbord). There’s cheerful talk and much praising of the various dishes. Almost everyone has a glass of beer or cider at their elbow. Suddenly one of the hosts lifts a shot glass and suggests a song. Everyone bursts out in cheerful singing before raising their shot glasses and taking a hearty swig. Swig taken, the glass is lowered and eye contact is made with the other diners. Eating and chatting resumes. Continue reading

The Swedish Trilogy, 1: Coffee

13 Jul
Coffee should be dark and bitter.
Coffee should be dark and bitter.

It’s early on a summer’s morning and I have just ordered an Americano in a rather nice cafe in a suburb of Stockholm. The barista makes a double espresso, pours it into a cup and tops it up with filter coffee. The result is extremely strong and packed with caffeine. There’s a good reason for why I don’t send it back.

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