Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pear Tart with Ginger and Vanilla Frangipane

My kitchen smells like a French pâtisserie right now, and it is not a bad thing. I have never been to Paris, but I know for a fact that I would eat my way though every little pastry shop if I had the chance.

This pear tart with ginger and vanilla frangipane makes a perfect transition from summer to fall. It is sweet and light with Asian pears, but at the same time rustic with its butter cookie type of crust and smooth almond pastry cream.

Our nearby Grosvenor Market had just gotten some Asian Pears from one of the local farms, and they looked so delicious, I knew I just had to bake something. Somehow locally grown produce always tastes better.

Before I made this tart, I had never heard about frangipane. I learned it's an almond pastry cream used in Italian and French pastries, which dates back to the mid-1600's. Then, it was more of a custard scented with almonds, but later became what we today enjoy as a cream made of almonds and butter. A fun fact, it was apparently named after an Italian noble man named Frangipane, who introduced almond scented gloves that were a big hit in the 1800's. Who would have thought?

This tart has a delicious twist to its frangipane - it uses fresh ginger, which pairs beautifully with the pears. (No pun intended.)

Now, let me tell you a few secrets when it comes to getting beautiful pie and tart crusts. When you have mixed all of the ingredients, make sure you wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for a half hour. Afterward, when you have rolled it (or pressed it) out in the form, put it in the freezer for a little while before you transfer it to the oven. This will help the dough to keep its shape in the heat. Another great thing is dried yellow peas or ceramic balls (see picture a little further down) that you put in the pie shell before you bake it. This will help the bottom of the pie to bake into an even layer, which looks beautiful when you slice the pie. When I make my high quiche, I even put tin foil around the edges to make sure they stay high and even.

This crust recipe is meant for a little larger form, but I only had a smaller sized one, so the crust ended up being a little thicker than I would have liked. Too much of the good stuff!

Serve this beauty with ice cream or whipped cream. I prefer the consistency of whipped cream to this tart, since the frangipane has such a fluffy and delicate texture.

Pear Tart with Ginger and Vanilla Frangipane
from the blog I huvudet på Elvaelva
300 g flour
90 g granulated sugar
200 g butter
2 eggs
1 large pinch baking powder
1 pinch salt
150 g almond flour
135 g granulated sugar
125 g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla sugar
3-4 pears

Almonds, sliced
2 tbsp apricot marmelade


For the pie crust: Cream the sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs and mix until it forms a smooth batter. 

Put plastic wrap around the dough, and let rest in the fridge for a half hour or more. Remove from the fridge and press the dough into a pie form or spring form pan. 

Preheat the oven to 355 degrees F. Put the pie form in the freezer for 5-10 minutes so that the dough hardens. Prick the pie crust with a fork, and add ceramic balls to make sure the crust bakes evenly. I usually put down some parchment paper before, since it will make it easier to remove the balls later. Let bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is almost done. Remove from the oven and let cool. 

Frangipane: Mix together sugar and butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until a loose batter. Add ginger after your own liking. I ended up using about a teaspoon.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Fill the pie crust with frangipane. Cut 5 mm thin pear slices, and arrange them on top, lightly pressing them down into the frangipane. 

Add the almond slices. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 395 degrees F and let bake for another 15 minutes. The tart should have a golden brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool.

To get that beautiful shiny top of the tart, slowly heat 2 tablespoons of apricot marmalade in a saucepan. Brush the pie with the melted marmalade. Now, isn't that beautiful! This is something that you can use to make fruit cakes or tarts look as shiny and delicious as the ones you see at bakeries.
Enjoy your baking!

Pärontarte med frangipane, ingefära och vanilj
från bloggen I huvudet på Elvaelva

5 dl vetemjöl

1 dl strösocker
200 gr smör
2 ägg
1 rejäl nypa bakpulver
1 nypa salt
en skvätt vatten
(ev. några nävar torkade gula ärtor)
3 dl mandelmjöl
1.5 dl strösocker
125 gr smör
2 ägg
1 tsk vaniljpulver
3-4 st smakrika päron
en näve mandelflarn
ev. ett par msk aprikos- eller apelsinmarmelad

Gör så här:

Pajskal: Knåda ihop socker och smör i en bunke, sikta i mjöl, bakpulver och salt. Knäck ner äggen och blanda runt allting till en jämn deg. Vira lite plastfolie runt degen och ställ i kylen att vila en halvtimme eller mer. Kavla sedan ut degen och tryck ner i en låg pajform(gärna en variant med avtagbar kant).
Sätt ugnen på 180°. Ställ pajformen i frysen 5-10 minuter så degen stelnar . Nagga sedan pajskalet med en gaffel och häll ner några nävar torkade gula ärtor (detta gör att pajskalet håller sig på plats i ugnen, och inte rasar ihop eller bubblar upp). Sätt in i ugnen i ca. 20 minuter tills skalet är nästan färdiggräddat. Ta ut och låt svalna.
Frangipane: Knåda ihop strösocker och smör i en bunke, häll sedan ner resten av ingredienserna. Blanda ihop till en lös smet och smaksätt med så mycket ingefära du önskar.
Paj: Sätt ugnen på 150°. Bred ut frangipane-krämen i pajskalet. Skär 5 mm tunna skivor av frukten, lägg på i ett fint mönster ovanpå och tryck till lite så de hamnar en bit ner i krämen. Strö över mandelflarn (tips: så fort jag bakar någonting som innehåller någon form av nötter så brukar jag även dekorera med dem – det gör det enklare för nötallergiker att snabbt se vad de kan och inte kan äta) och sätt sedan in pajen i ugnen. Förgrädda i ca. 30 minuter. Höj sedan värmen till 200° och låt pajen stå ytterligare 10-15 minuter tills krämen börjar sätta sig och få lite gyllenbrun färg på ytan. Ta ut pajen och låt den svalna.
Tips: Vill du få lite glansig yta på din gräddade paj? Ta då några matskedar aprikos- eller apelsinmarmelad och värm försiktigt på spisen. Pensla sedan pajtäcket med den smälta marmeladen.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Aron's Birthday Cakes

Yesterday was my nephew Aron's 9th birthday, and I surprised him by making a LEGO themed cake and a m&m cake. This is a kid who absolutely loves Legos, so you can imagine how excited he was when he saw it!

Since we're still in Sweden, I don't have access to all of my baking gear I normally use when making fondant cakes. The good thing is that you can get far by improvising and using regular kitchen utensils. However, I owe a huge thanks to my awesome hubby for shipping the Lego mold that I purchased from Amazon a couple of weeks back, all the way to Sweden, just so I could get it in time for making the cake. Not having to shape the big blocks by hand saved me a lot of time. The rest of the cake was a whole other story. It involved a small pairing knife and going to bed at 5 am in the morning.

This was the second themed birthday cake I have ever made, and it was so much fun. I found a lot of inspiration online, and just had fun with it! I'm one of those parents who love to use my kids as an excuse to play with their playdough, and working with fondant is just about the same.

The m&m cake was also a lot of fun to put together. I have been wanting to try it ever since I saw it on Pinterest, and was amazed at how easy it was to make. All you need is a straw, some glue and a bag of m&m's. And a cake, of course! Glue the m&ms on to the straw (leaving some empty space at both ends), stick it in to the cake, and place the empty bag on top. 

The cake had a gooey chocolate base made from two milk chocolate kladdkakas and a layer of strawberry mousse in between. I didn't use any frosting on the sides of the cake, instead I melted some chocolate and brushed some on each chocolate finger to make sure they would stick. The tastiest kind of glue there is, if you ask me.


The kids all loved the surprise, and I had so much fun making it. Once again, Happy 9th birthday, sweet Aron!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Swedish Cinnamon Roll Braid

There's something really simple, homey and absolutely delicious about a cinnamon roll. It has always played an important role in Swedish fika culture, and now we're not talking about the American Cinnabon version with all that heavy frosting (even though they are delish!), but her modest Swedish cousin, the kanelbulle.

So, what makes the Swedish cinnamon roll different from the American one? Well, I'm glad you asked! Kanelbullen is a little less sweet, it uses freshly ground cardamom in the dough, and has pearl sugar as a topping instead of frosting. It is also baked at a higher heat for a shorter time, which gives it a light crust on top that is so incredibly satisfying.

The boys and I are visiting family in Sweden right now, and since I am in the land of fika, I felt inspired to bake something Swedish. I had never made a cinnamon roll braid before, but always thought they looked pretty, so I gave it a go. Even though they might look complicated, they are actually a lot quicker to make than individual rolls.

There are so many recipes for Swedish cinnamon buns, but I found one that sounded a little extra yummy. It uses sirap in the dough and filling. Sirap, also known as golden syrup, has the consistency of molasses, but tastes more like a caramel maple syrup. You can find it at your local IKEA, in the food market section. I would say you could maybe substitute maple syrup for sirap, but it's a little runnier in it's consistency and I'm not sure how that would play out. Besides, you're probably due for another IKEA round anyway!

The recipe I used makes 40-50 buns or 4 large cinnamon roll braids, so you can definitely cut it in half and still end up with plenty of fika. Or you can make the whole recipe and keep three in the freezer for unexpected guests!

Here's a little tutorial on how to make the braid.

If using the recipe as it is, making 4 braids, you will have to cut the dough in half. Once you've done that, roll it out into a rectangle. Spread half of that delicious filling on top.

Cut the rectangle in half.

Roll the first half in toward the middle, while making sure the edge ends up under the roll. Transfer it onto a lined baking sheet.

Using a pair of scissors, make 1/4 inch wide cuts, without cutting all the way through the bottom.

Push the cut pieces to the side, alternating left and right.

Repeat all of the steps for the second roll.

Brush the braids with a whisked egg, and sprinkle the pearl sugar and almond slices on top. Let rise under a towel for 45 minutes, and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

And this is the result!

I wish you could smell all of the wonderful warm cinnamon in this picture...

Have a wonderful weekend, friends, and happy baking!

Makes 40-50 buns or 4 braids
17 fl oz milk
50 g fresh or 12 g dry yeast
45 grams sugar 
100 ml light sirap
1 tsp grind cardamom 
800-900 g flour
150 gram butter
1 tsp salt
200 gram butter
90 g sugar
100 ml sirap
s1/3 cup shredded almond paste
vanilla sugar
4-5 tbsp. cinnamon

1 egg, beaten
Pearl sugar
sliced almonds

  1. Heat the milk to 99 degrees F. Mix some of the milk with the crumbled yeast and pour the rest of the milk into the mixture. (If using dry yeast, follow the instructions on the package.) Add salt, sugar, cardamom, sirap, and lastly flour. Mix well.
  2. Divide the butter into small cubes and add to the dough. Add more flour if needed.
  3. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. In the meantime, make the filling and set aside.
  4. Put the dough on a work surface and knead it for a few minutes, then divide it in two. Roll the dough into a rectangle and spread half of the filling on top.
  5. Roll the rectangle in toward the middle and move to a covered baking sheet.
  6. Using scissors, cut the roll into 1/2 inch slices, but make sure you leave some space at the bottom, so you don't cut all the way though. Pull the pieces to the sides, every other right and left. 
  7. Brush the braids with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar and sliced almond. Let rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

från bloggen Ur Min Kokbok
Ca 40-50 
5 dl mjölk
50 g jäst
0,5 dl socker
1 dl ljus sirap
1 tsk stött kardemumma
13-15 dl vetemjöl
150 gram smör
1 tsk salt
200 gram smör
1 dl socker
1 dl sirap
riven mandelmassa ( ca 0,5 dl riven, lite efter behag)
4-5 msk kanel

1 vispat ägg
Skivade mandlar
1. Värm mjölken till 37 grader. Blanda lite av mjölken med jästen och häll sedan i resten av mjölken. Tillsätt salt, socker, sirap och till sist mjöl. Blanda väl, den kommer vara kletig! 
2. TIllsätt smöret i kuber och låt bearbetas i maskin i ca 10 min, tillsätt mer mjöl om det behövs (det kan se omöjligt ut till en början, men låt maskinen jobba och smöret kommer arbetas in tillslut. Degen blir nu otroligt lätt att arbeta med och man behöver inte tillsätta så mycket mjöl). 
3. Jäs i 1 h. Under tiden blandar du fyllningen, jag brukar köra allt i en mixer så det blandas ordentligt.
4. Ta upp degen ur bunken och knåda några minuter. Dela i 2 delar. Kavla ut en rektangel, ca ½ cm tjock. Bred på hälften av fyllningen. Dela rektangeln på mitten.
4. Rulla ihop rektanglarna och lägg dem brett isär på en plåt med bakplåtspapper.
5. Klipp rullarna i centimetertjocka skivor men spara ca 1 cm nedtill så att de sitter ihop. Dra bitarna åt sidan, varannan höger och varannan vänster. Dra ut dem en bit till så att bitarna ligger lutade bakåt.
6. Pensla längderna med uppvispat ägg och strö över sötmandel. Låt dem jäsa under bakduk i ca 30 min. Sätt ugnen på 200 grader.
7. Grädda längderna längst ner i ugnen i 25–30 min. Låt dem svalna på plåten.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Gooey Mint Chocolate Birthday Surprise

My hubby's birthday was a few weeks ago, and the boys and I had a special surprise waiting for him when he came home from work - his favorite chocolate dessert! It's a Swedish cake called kladdkaka, which translates to "gooey cake", and is a version of a molten chocolate cake. I grew up with this chocolaty goodness, and we would make it for birthday parties, whenever we had guests over, or just on a regular Friday night. As a matter of fact, I would even dare to say that there's a 90% chance that this is one of the things you will be served at any Swedish birthday party. And since we're a chocolate loving family, this easy recipe has become a staple at our house.

My oldest son, Jacob, loves to help out in the kitchen, and William, my youngest, loves to get messy, so this was a great baking adventure for them. I love finding recipes that are kid friendly, that only uses a handful of ingredients, and doesn't take too much time to make. The best part was seeing how excited they were to make something for daddy!

A good thing about this specific recipe, is that it doesn't use any active ingredient such as baking powder or baking soda, so you can stir until the cows come home without it having affect on how it turns out! And as you can imagine, there was a whole lot of stirring going on.

I've made a lot of kladdkakas over the years, and I've tried different versions of it; traditional, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, chocolate raspberry, a dulce de leche version etc. Sometimes I'll stick with the traditional recipe and serve it with vanilla sugar whipped cream and a raspberry sauce, just to make it a little more fun. The bottom line is, you can't go wrong with this one if you love chocolate.

This time we made a mint chocolate version, because it's one of Matt's favorites. The recipe calls for After Eight, but you can also use Andes Mints or something similar. Just don't be intimidated by the amount of mint used, it's not going to be overpowering! Even the kids loved every bite of it.

The boys made sure we quality tested the chocolate. Because, I mean, we wouldn't want to use bad chocolate. I just had to make sure there was still some left to use in the cake. Luckily, there was!

The boys where so proud to present the cake to daddy, and of course he was so impressed and loved the surprise!

Personally, I think kladdkaka is best served with vanilla bean ice cream or with whipped cream, but some like it plain Jane. I usually go with ice cream, especially in the winter time, when I like to bake the cake in small ramekins and serve the chocolate cake warm.
Look at that fudgey goodness! Now you have something to bake Friday night to celebrate that another work week is over!

After Eight Gooey Chocolate Cake
from the magazine Hembakat

150 g butter
270 g sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsp. cacao
105 g flour
1 pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla sugar*

8 After Eight pieces

Mint chocolate glaze
25 After Eight pieces
powdered sugar

*If you can't get your hands on vanilla sugar, just substitute with confectioners sugar and add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. 
  2. Pour the batter into a buttered 9" spring form pan.
  3. Chop up 8 After Eights and put them in the batter.
  4. Bake in on the center rack for about 25-30 minutes. Make sure it's not too wobbly when you take it out. Let cool in the pan.
  5. For the mint chocolate glaze: Melt 25 pieces of After Eights over a water bath.
  6. Pour the chocolate over the cooled cake and let harden in the fridge. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Lyxig After Eightkladdkaka
från tidningen Hembakat

150 g smör
3 dl strösocker
3 ägg
3 msk kakao
1 ¾ dl vetemjöl
1 nypa salt
2 tsk vaniljsocker

ca 8 plattor After Eight

ca 25 plattor After Eight

Gör så här

1. Sätt ugnen på 180 grader. Smält smöret i en kastrull. Tillsätt resten av ingredienserna och blanda snabbt ihop allt till en slät smet.
2. Häll smeten i en smord och bröad springform, 23–24 cm i diameter (bröa gärna formen med kokos i stället för ströbröd).
3. Skär ca 8 After Eight-plattor på mitten och stick ner dem i smeten.
4. Grädda kakan mitt i ugnen i 25–30 min beroende på hur kladdig du vill ha den. Låt den svalna i formen.
5. Mintchokladglasyr: Smält ca 25 After Eight-plattor över vattenbad.
6. Bred ut mintchokladkrämen över kakan och låt den stelna i kylen. Pudra över lite florsocker före servering. Servera gärna med vispgrädde eller glass.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mini Almond Tarts with Lemon Mascarpone Mousse

A few weeks back, I celebrated six years of living in the US. It's been six amazing, eventful years and I'm so happy to be able to call this country my home. In honor of both Independence Day, and my Americaversary, I thought something red, white and blue was in order.
These little tarts are so light, acidic, and summery. The shells are made out of a cookie almond crust, and are filled with a home made lemon curd, that has been mixed with mascarpone and crème fraiche. Lemon curd is easily one of my favorite fillings to use in cakes and tarts. Lemon, sugar and butter - what's not to love?

I had been wanting to use these mini tart molds for a while, but hadn't really known what to make with them. They used to be my Grandmother's, who was known for her amazing banana bread and seven kinds of cookies, and given to my mother, who then gave them to me. These, and my grandmother's midcentury coffee can in a bright pink, orange and purple pattern (think early flower power), are among my favorite things. But then again, so are baking and drinking coffee.

Okay, I'll be honest. It was a pain to get these crusts out of the shells. I did butter the molds before using them, as the recipe calls for, but still I had to run a small knife around the edges to loosen the cookies. If there's one thing I've learned about baking, it's patience, patience, and patience. At least I can say that it was worth all of the hard work!

This recipe calls for pomegranate and lemon peel as a garnish, but since I was feeling particularly patriotic I decided to skip the lemon and add a blueberry on each tart. Happy belated birthday, America!

Almond Tarts with Lemon Mascarpone Mousse
from the magazine Hembakat

100 g butter, room temp
68 g sugar
1 eggyolk
250 g flour
50 g almond flour

250 g mascarpone, room temp
200 g crème fraiche, room temp
200 g lemon curd, room temp

½ pomegranate, seeds
1 tbs finely grated lemon peel

  1. Whip the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stirr in the egg yolk.
  2. Sift the flour and almond flour into the butter mixture. Sikta ned vetemjöl och mandelmjöl i smeten. Work it into a dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 395°F. Coat the cookie molds with melted butter.
  4. Form the dough into a long roll and divide it into 20 pieces. Press the dough into the molds.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes. Loosen the cookies from the molds while still warm.
  6. Filling: Whip together mascarpone, crème fraiche and lemon curd. It's important that they are at room temperature and that you don't whip it too hard.
  7. Fill the cookies with the mousse and decorate with pomegranate seeds and lemon peel before serving. 

Lemon Curd
from Leila Lindholm

135 g sugar               
50 g butter
1 tbsp. corn starch                
2 egg yolks

  1. Wash and dry the lemons. Boil the lemon juice from two of the lemons and the rind from all three, together with the sugar and butter. Strain the liquid to get rid of the rind.                   
  2. Mix the corn starch with the lemon juice from the third lemon, and stir into the liquid.
  3. Whip the eggs and stir them in to the liquid. Put the saucepan back on the heat, and let it simmer until the lemon curd starts to thicken.                    
  4. Pour the lemon curd into a bowl, and let cool before refrigerating.


Mandelmusslor med Citronmousse
från tidningen Hembakat

100 g smör, rumsvarmt
¾ dl strösocker
1 äggula
2 ½ dl vetemjöl
50 g mandelmjöl

250 g mascarpone, rumsvarm
2 dl crème fraiche, rumsvarm
2 dl lemon curd, rumsvarm

½ granatäpple, kärnorna
1 msk finrivet citronskal

Gör så här:
  1. Vispa smör och socker pösigt. Rör i äggulan.
  2. Sikta ned vetemjöl och mandelmjöl i smeten. Arbeta ihop till en deg. Låt degen vila i kylskåp i minst 1 tim.
  3. Sätt ugnen på 200 grader. Pensla 20 veckade mandelmusselformar med smält smör.
  4. Gör en rulle av degen och skär den i 20 bitar. Tryck ut bitarna i formarna.
  5. Grädda kakorna mitt i ugnen i ca 8 min. Lossa dem försiktigt medan de fortfarande är varma.
  6. Fyllning: Vispa försiktigt ihop mascarpone, crème fraiche och lemon curd. Det är viktigt att ingredienserna är rumstempererade och att du inte vispar för hårt.
  7. Fyll formarna med moussen och dekorera med granatäppelkärnor och citronskal precis innan serveringen.

Lemon Curd
från Leila Lindholm
ekologiska citroner
1,5 dl strösocker
50 g smör
1 msk maizena
ekologiska ägg
2 ekologiska äggulor
Gör så här:
  1. Tvätta tre citroner noga och torka. Koka upp citronsaft från två av citronerna samt rivet skal från alla tre, ihop med strösocker och smör. Sila sedan av vätskan.
  2. Blanda ut maizena med saften från din tredje citron och rör ner detta i vätskan.
  3. Vispa samman äggen och rör ner dem i vätskan, ställ tillbaka på spisen och sjud tills citronkrämen tjocknar.
  4. Häll över din lemon curd i en ren skål och låt svalna.