Semlor|Semla

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So it’s Shrove Tuesday, which here in the UK is celebrated with pancakes, generally something which I have absolutely no objection to whatsoever.  It was pancake day on one of our first dates, so my husband and I always mark it- usually with some crepes stuffed with spinach, ham and cheese, slathered with more cheese before baking.  Sweet ones to follow, of course. 

But in Sweden, the tradition is to eat semlor on ‘fettisdagen’ or Fat Tuesday.  Originally, these buns were really quite simple and based very much on the classic ‘vetebröd’ (literally ‘wheat-bread’) recipe.  Sweetened, leavened bread flavoured with cardamom- pretty much the same thing we’d use for cinnamon buns.  Semlor were served floating in a bowl of milk, for dipping and dunking.  But traditions, of course, evolve.  The Sweden.se homepage describes the semla’s trajectory best:

‘At some point Swedes grew tired of the strict observance of Lent, added cream and almond paste to the mix and started eating semla every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter.

Today, no such reservations exist and semlor (the plural of semla) usually appear in bakery windows as near after Christmas as is deemed decent – and sometimes even before. This is followed by a collective, nationwide moan about how it gets earlier every year. Shortly thereafter people begin to eat the things like the world will end tomorrow.’

I know that my last post exalted the virtues of restraint and substitution in order to make a sweet treat a bit healthier.  This post, by contrast, is really all about excess, which is as it should be on the last day before Lent.  My take on the semla uses plain flour, which gives them a cakier texture and just a dash of cardamom- it’s more for the scent than anything else.  Unfilled they freeze really well, so you can make them in advance and have a stash to hand. 

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Semlor (Swedish Lent Buns)
Makes 24 mini buns or 12 big ‘uns

You will need:

For the buns:
75g unsalted butter
150ml whole milk
5g fresh yeast
60g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (or 2 tbsp pods, shelled and ground)
400g plain flour

For the almond paste
100g blanched almonds
75g golden caster sugar

To serve:
Double cream, whipped
Icing sugar

Method:

1.  Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat.  Add the milk and bring to blood temperature.  Crumble the yeast into a large bowl with the sugar.  Pour over a little of the milk mixture and stir until the yeast and sugar has dissolved.  Add the remaining liquid, 1 beaten egg, salt and cardamom. 

2.  Gradually add the flour, stirring until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly, until it comes together to form an elastic dough.  Return to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 1 hour. 

3. Meanwhile, make the almond paste by blitzing the blanched almonds to a fine powder.  Add the sugar and continue blitzing to a smooth paste- it may take a little while for the oils in the nuts to release, be patient.  Cover and pop in the fridge until needed.

4. Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto your work surface.  Knock back a little before dividing and rolling into buns.  Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, about 2 cm apart.   Again, cover with the tea towel and leave for about 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size.   Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. 

5.  Beat the remaining egg and use to lightly glaze the buns.  Bake for 7-8 minutes for small buns and up to 10 for larger, until golden.  Cool on a wire rack completely. 

6.  To serve, cut off the tops of the buns and scoop out a little of the bread-y middles.  Fill with a spoonful of almond paste and spritz or spoon in the cream.  Crown with the reserved bun tops and dust with icing sugar.

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It Must Have Bean Love.

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Be my slightly less sweet Valentine this year.  This decadent chocolate cake is exactly what you would want to make for a loved one or to finish a romantic meal.  Except it isn’t quite as naughty as it seems.  This cake is free from refined sugar, sweetened instead with dates and a little maple syrup.  There’s no dairy just coconut oil instead of butter and coconut cream for the frosting.  And there’s no flour or grains at all, so it’s completely gluten free.  There is, however, a surprise ingredient- black beans.  I recognise that this sounds a little incongruous, but trust me, it makes for a really moreish, fudgy texture.  Anyway, everyone is doing it-  it’s the new beetroot as far as chocolate cake baking goes and just as delicious.  My apologies for the Roxette pun in the title, I couldn’t resist. 

Chocolate Black Bean Cake with Hazelnut Mocha Mousse and Coconut Frosting
Makes 1 cake

You will need:

For the cake:
1 can black beans (400g), drained
2 tbsp very strong coffee
5 fat medjool dates, pitted
3 tbsp maple syrup.
1 tsp vanilla extract
30g raw cocoa powder
75g coconut oil, plus a little extra
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
5 eggs, separated

For the mousse:
150g hazelnuts, covered in cold water and soaked overnight
2 tbsp very strong coffee
1 tbsp raw cocoa
1 tbsp maple syrup

For the frosting:
150 ml coconut cream
1-2 tbsp maple syrup, to taste.

Red fruits like strawberries, raspberries, red currants, pomegranate seeds and figs, to serve
2 tbsp dessicated coconut, to serve.

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Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C and grease two 20cm sandwich tins with a little coconut oil.  Line with parchment.  In a magimix, combine the beans, dates, maple syrup, coffee, vanilla and cocoa.  Blitz until completely smooth- it should take a few minutes before the dates have completely dispersed into the mixture. 

2. Add the coconut oil and continue blitzing untill the coconut oil has completely dispersed- there should be no white flecks.  Add the bicarb, salt and egg yolks and blitz until just combined and transfer to a large bowl. 

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Beat a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten slightly.  In three separate additions, fold in the egg whites until just combined.  Divide equally between the two sandwich tins and bake for 20-22 minutes, until firm to the touch with a little spring and a cake tester comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tins.

4.  To make the mousse, drain the hazelnuts and place in the magimix with the cocoa powder, coffee and maple syrup.  Blitz until broken up and grainy, stopping to clean down the sides from time to time.  With the motor running, slowly add 150ml of cold water and continue to blitz until you have a light, fluffy mixture.  Set aside. 

5.  For the coconut frosting, whisk the coconut cream in a small bowl sweetened with a little maple syrup.  Refrigerate until needed.  Spread the mousse on one of the chocolate cakes, then top with the second.  Frost with the coconut cream and decorate with fruit.  Finally, dust with a little dessicated coconut. 

 

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The Magnificent Meyer Lemon

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It seems so very fitting that this is the time of year when citrus fruit is at its best. These last few weeks the temperature has been sticking firmly around the freezing mark.  Is it only me or was it warmer last winter? I cycled everywhere last January and February! This year my bike hasn’t seen daylight for weeks. So these zesty bursts of brightness feel pretty essential. I always look forward to enjoying clementines and tangerines at their sweetest in January and lately I’ve been stock piling blood oranges- greedily peeling each newly bough batch to see if their ruby shade has intensified with the passing weeks.

This year, I found a real, unexpected treat on a routine trip to Tesco, of all places, where I stumbled upon a pack of MEYER LEMONS. I can’t tell you how excited this made me.  I’ve never seen them in this country but remember them fondly from my New York days.  For those of you unfamiliar with the fruit, imagine if a lemon and a mandarine had a lovechild.  Basically, it has all the zesty freshness of a lemon minus that bitter edge. Less sour, more sweet. Plus you can eat the skin and rind, like a giant yellow kumquat. They are hugely popular in the States, where Wikipedia tells me they were introduced over a hundred years ago. Which begs the question- what took the rest of us so long??!

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Anyway, I hope they are on their way to becoming a regular supermarket feature over here as well.  Although they did actually sit for days in my fruit bowl before I finally decided what to do with them- too much choice!  Like garden-variety lemons, these Meyer cousins actually work well in both savoury and sweet dishes, so I mixed and matched. Here are the results.

First up, the ultimate lazy weekend brunch pancakes.  These could also be made in miniature as little blini style nibbles, topped with a little creme fraich and dill.  They are very light and fluffy, almost soufflé-like, which makes them a bit less robust for cooking and flipping, but definitely worth the extra care once they’ve hit your plate.  

Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Mayer Lemon and Dill
served with smoked salmon and creme fraiche
Serves 4

You will need:

100g buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 egg whites, 1 whole egg
140ml (half pot) buttermilk
1 tbsp maple syrup
about 1.5 tbsp chopped chives
zest and juice of 1 meyer lemon
olive or coconut oil

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Method:

1. Place flour and bicarb in a large bowl with a pinch of salt.  Whisk in the buttermilk, whole egg and maple syrup then add the chives, lemon juice and zest, beat well. 

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until thick, frothy and just holding their shape in soft peaks.  Carefully fold into the pancake batter. 

3.  Heat a good glug of oil in your best non stick pan and add a ladelful of pancake batter.  These might be a bit tricker to flip than your average pancake- a palette knife will help. 

4.  Serve straight away or keep warm in a low temperature oven while you crack on with the remaining batter.  Try the pancakes with smoked salmon and a dollop of creme fraiche.  For a sweeter version, omit the chives and add another tbsp of maple syrup and serve with berries.

In doing my Meyer Lemon recipe research, trying to sift through the overwhelming possibilities, I stumbled upon quite a few pizza recipes topped with whole slices of the fruit.  While this intrigued me, I’m not sure I would want them to feature quite so prominently on my dinner plate.  However, it did get me thinking about how they might work as a topping for other bread-based products, something sharable like focaccia.  My take on this is based on my go-to recipe for bread of this kind- the Schiacciata from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ which is totally failsafe and has all of the light airiness that you’d want from an Italian flatbread. 

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Meyer Lemon and thyme Focaccia
Makes 1 large focaccia loaf

You will need:

350g strong white flour
150g Italian 00 flour
2 tbsp sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
20g fresh yeast
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
small bunch thyme, some leaves picked
2 meyer lemons, thinly sliced

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Method:

1. Place flours and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the yeast with 1 tbsp of blood temperature water in a small bowl or jug.  Measure out 300ml of blood temperature water, adding the yeast mixture along with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. 

2. Make a well in the flour and add the liquid ingredients, mixing until it begins to form a dough.  Tip onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes until you have an elastic dough.  You can of course use a stand mixer if you prefer.  Form the dough into a ball and place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour.

3.  Meanwhile, place thyme stems in a small bowl, cover with cold water and set aside.  Oil a large rectangular baking sheet generously. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6. 

4. Tip out the dough and knead briefly before stretching and punching out to cover the baking sheet.  Cover and leave to rise for a further 30-40 minutes.  Towards the end of the rising time, drain the thyme and shake off any excess water.  Once the dough has puffed up, arrange the lemon slices and thyme sprigs over it and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when the base of the bread is tapped. The lemon may caramelise a little, cover with some foil if it starts to turn very brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before sprinkling with a few extra thyme leaves and tearing into. 

I suppose all these meyer lemons have reminded me of other foodstuffs that I miss about my time in the big apple.  In particular the Eastern European and Jewish heritage which lends so much to the baking culture that is taken for granted there- the most amazing bagels, of course, but also wonderful cakes like the babka.  This twisty loaf cake is usually made with chocolate and cinnamon, but can of course be filled with anything you like.  It is made from a yeasted dough and in that respect reminds me a lot of some of the braided loaf versions of cinnamon and cardamom buns we have in Sweden. 

 This recipe is not for the faint-hearted.  Adding the butter by hand is a nightmare as the dough and the fat will not seem like they want to mix together at all, rather just slip and slide around each other.  Trust me, they will come together with a little patience.  It is also essential that the butter is at room temperature.  Of course, if you have a stand mixer this will save you the agony, but as I do not as yet own one (my little Bow kitchen has no space for such luxuries), this is the way that I roll. 

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Meyer Lemon, Cardamom and Pistachio Babka
Makes 1 babka

You will need:

For the dough:

250g plain flour
50g golden caster sugar
15g fresh yeast
1 egg, beaten
zest and juice of half a meyer lemon
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:
50g green pistachios
25g golden caster sugar
60g butter
2 tsp cardamom
zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons

 Method:

1. To make the dough, combine the flour and sugar with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.  In a small jug, measure out 75ml of water and dissolve the yeast into it.  Add the egg, lemon juice and zest and beat well.  Make a well in the flour and add the liquid ingredients, mixing until just combined.  

2.  Tip out the dough onto a well floured work surface and knead to come together.  Continue kneading by hand for about 10 minutes, until elastic.  You can test this by pressing a finger lightly into the surface of the dough, pulled slightly taunt.  It should slowly spring back.  At this stage, you can start adding your butter, a tsp or so at a time, kneading and folding until it starts to dissolve into the dough before adding the next teaspoonfull.  This will take time and be very messy and greasy.  There’s no way around it, but it will work with patience.  Put the radio on.

3.  Place the now quite greasy dough into a medium sized bowl.  Lightly grease a bit of cling film and cover the bowl, placing in the fridge to rise slowly overnight. 

4.  To make the filling, simply blitz the pistachios and caster sugar until the nuts have broken up to a fine powder.  Add the butter, cardamom, lemon zest and juice and blitz for form a smooth paste.  Refrigerate until the next day.

5.  Generously oil a 900g/1lb loaf tin and line the base with rectangle of parchment and remove the filling from the fridge to soften slightly.  Tip the dough out onto a well floured work surface.  Roll into a thin rectangle, about the size of an A4 piece of paper.  Spread with the filling then roll into a sausage-like shape.  Trim the ends to remove any messy edges then, using a large sharp knife, divide the roll in half lengthways.  Lay each half next to each other vertically.  Pinch the top ends together before gently twisting the two halves of dough around eachother by lifting each side over the next.  When you get to the bottom, pinch these ends together as well. 

6.  Carefully lift into your prepared loaf tin- it might be a bit to short for your babka, in which case simply curve it in to form a snake-like shape.  Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about 1.5-2 hours in a cool spot. 

7. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted to the cake comes out clean.  If it starts to brown a bit too much, just cover with foil and continue to bake.  Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before turning out to a wire rack.  For extra sweetness and as I often do with cinnamon buns, I brushed my loaf with a light sugar syrup while it was still warm.  Slice to serve with a cup of tea or coffee. 

Blackberries in winter

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Blackberries are, for me, the most winter-y of all fruits.  There is something about their jewel-like shapes and dramatic colour that makes them particularly well suited for these darker months.  And although they are in season and most perfect, ripe for the picking, during the early autumn (when these recipes were in fact shot), they are easily found in the supermarkets right through the winter months, intended for porridge topping and jam making.  They have a sweet-tart thing going on, which makes them wonderful for desserts- they come into their own baked into cakes and crumbles.  But they can also be served with meat, in particular game and, as I’ve done here, in a simple winter salad.  The recipe for thumb cookies is a take on a traditional Swedish cookie called often made with raspberry jam called ‘hallongrottor’ which literally translates to rasbberry ‘caves.’  As a child I couldn’t resist them and always pestered my aunt to make them whenever she came to visit.  Potato flour (note, flour NOT starch!)  is super silky and adds a wonderful crumbly texture to the cookies. If you can’t find it, you can either substitute with more plain flour or try adding a little cornflour. 

All photographs here are by Faith Mason, do have a look at more of her work on her site!

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Kale, Cobnut and Blackberry Salad
Serves 4

You will need:
For the salad
2 large handfuls cobnuts (or use shelled hazelnuts if out of season)
1 bag kale- i used a mixture of green and purple
1 lime- juiced
1 punnet black berries

For the dressing
100g blackberries
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked 

Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.  Crack open the cobnut and remove from their leafy and hard shells.  Place on an oven tray and toast for about 20 mins, until golden, tossing halfway through.  Allow to cool completely. 

2)  Meanwhile, tear the kale into smaller pieces, discarding any larger woody stems.  Place in a large bowl along with the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt.  Gently massage the leaves for a few minutes, until they start to break down and become more tender- you’ll notice a gradual change in colour as they go darker.  Add the blackberries and cobnuts and toss.

3)  Blitz the blackberries, balsamic and olive oil along with a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.  Add the thyme leaves and blitz for another few seconds.  Use to dress the salad.

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double blackberryGinger, mint and blackberry fizz
Serves 2

You will need:
150g blackberries
small handfull mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 ball stem ginger, roughly choppped plus 1 tbsp of the syrup
1 tsp golden caster sugar
50 ml bourbon
ice
ginger ale
mint sprigs, to serve

Method:
1) Blitz together the blackberries, mint, ginger, syrup and sugar.  Strain through a fine mesh seive.  Add to a cocktail shaker with the bourbon and a large handful of ice.  Shake vigrously, then pour into two ice filled glasses.  Top with ginger ale and garnish with a mint sprig.

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Blackberry, vanilla and bay thumb cookies
Makes aprox 30 cookies

You will need:
150g blackberries (fresh or frozen)
4 fresh bay leaves
150g golden caster sugar
240g plain flour
80g potato flour
pinch vanilla powder
1 tsp baking powder
225g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Method:
1) Place the blackberries, bay leaves and 50g of the sugar in a saucepan along with about 50ml of water.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the fruit has completely broken down and is very jammy.  Allow to cool completely. 

2)  Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a baking sheet with parchment.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining sugar, flours, vanilla and baking powder.  Add the cubed butter and mix together with your finger tips, working quickly to form a dough.  Alternatively, pulse in a magimix. 

3.  Roll the dough into small balls- about the size of a walnut.  Place these on the baking sheet before carefully making small indents into each with your thumb.  Don’t worry if the dough cracks a bit, the cookies will still hold together.  Fill each hole with a spoonfull of the jam.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just starting to turn golden.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

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Danish Rye

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                                                                                                                                   Nyhavn

I haven’t been to Copenhagen since I was quite young and my memories of the city are a bit hazy.  I think at the time I was most excited about seeing the mermaid statue- Disney to blame there, I’m afraid.   But it is fair to say that it was a much busier, livelier city than I remembered or expected.  Perhaps because I’m used to the relative peace and quiet of Stockholm, despite being a bigger city- at least in terms of population (or so Google tells me).   It seems like (and the Stockholmer in me can’t quite believe I’m saying this) somewhere with a bit more going on.  

While this buzz felt really exciting, I left feeling that it’s a city that has gained an international reputation (not least when it comes to food) perhaps before it was quite ready for it.  For example, there is so much to do and see, but everything shuts so early.  We found the service in general, with only a handful of exceptions, rather brusque and bordering on rude. But more than that, it seems to be a city very much in flux as the many building projects and developments hinted at- roads, offices, flats and bridges, growth spurts everywhere like teens in the summer holidays.  I’d love to go back in a few years and see what kind of a city it becomes. 

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                                                                                                     Looking across the water towards Noma

The food though, oh the food.  There is no shortage of exceptional places to eat and drink.  And yes, we did manage to get a booking at Noma for lunch as a once-in-a-lifetime, just-married treat.  And yes, it was incredible (with wonderful service, incidentally).  And yes, I took some snaps.  And no, I won’t be blogging about it.  Partly because it has been done, partly because I covered it at the time on Instagram, but also because no photos or description I could provide would do it justice.  It was entirely out of this world, mind-boggling and unlike anything else I’ve eaten and experienced.

Other foodie highlights include Granola on the lovely Værnedamsvej in Frederiksberg.  Nestled between little design shops, florists and bars, Granola seemed the perfect place to watch Cophenhagen style hunters go oby over, well, granola.  They also do fluffy pancakes, traditional hearty porridge (served with cranberries, cinnamon and butter) and eggs any way you’d like.

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                                                                                                                               Værnedamsvej florist

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                                                                                                              Cophenhagen courtyard

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                                                                                                                              Café Laundromat

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                                                                                                              BioMio in the old Bosch warehouse in Kødbyen

We were entirely spoilt for choice for where to go out on Copenhagen’s light summer evenings.  The one thing I would say is that it is a shame everywhere closes so early, particularly when the days are so long.  The streets were absolutely deserted by 11pm and forget about getting any food whatsoever post about 9pm, which didn’t suit our lazy honeymoon mindset at all.  We were caught out quite a few times, settling into a funky bar, ordering drinks and before we knew it (but just as our appetites started to wake up), they had stopped doing food.  Get with it Copenhagen!

Some fave areas included Nørrebro, where we found the Laundromat Café on Elmegade (yes, an actual laundromat as well as a café and bar, although no machines whirling when we were there).  The meatpacking district of Kødbyen (literally ‘Meat village’) would definitely be top of my list were I to return to Copenhagen anytime soon- most of the old slaughterhouses have been turned into restaurants, bars, cafés, delis and art galleries and the whole area makes for a lively place to spend an evening, wandering between place to place.  Some of the area’s original history still endures, turn a corner and you may well come face to face with a butcher’s shop window. 

Other highlights include Dyrehaven bar for its selection of beer and nibbles and the wonderful Torvehallerne market which overflowed with pristine fruit and veg, incredible fish and seafood and the most beautiful, almost architectural open sandwiches (which inspired my recipe, see below).  The cafés there will also do you a damn fine breakfast.   

I should probably but in a disclaimer at this point to note that you shouldn’t just go to Denmark or Copenhagen for the food.  It is a gorgeous city to walk or cycle around and of course you can’t move for design- the Designmuseum and Statens Museum for Kunst as well as the quieter Danish Architecture Centre.  But you can also see plenty of contemporary design for free at Hay House, George Jensen, Illums Bolighus and the Royal Copenhagen Flagship store to name but a few.  Not to mention a few recognisable landmarks that are worth seeing in person- we were delighted to be staying to close to the actual Borgen

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                                                                   The imposing entrance to Fiskebaren in the old ‘beef and pork hall’ in Kødbyen

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                                                                                               One of the remaining butchers in Kødbyen

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                                                                                                  Inside Dyrehaven bar on Sdr. Boulevard

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                                              Oils and other potions in Torvehallerne

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                                                                                                           Fruit and veg at Torvehallerne

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                                                                                     Fish and seafood at Torvehallerne- just look at those eels!

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                                                                                                                A selection of open sarnies at Torvehallerne

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                                                                                 Breakfast in Torvehallerne

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                                                                                                                                   Post breakfast

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                                                               Some ubiquitous Scandi design

One of the inescapable staples of Danish food culture is the dark, treacle-y seed filled roggebrød.  Dense rye bread, filled with hearty goodness and available at practically every meal time.

For me, this was what I was most keen to perfect from our trip so that I could enjoy it back at home in London.  I thought it was important to develop a simpler recipe that didn’t use traditional sourdough, as it would be easier to throw to together, although, I accept, finding rye seeds and flakes isn’t exactly something that you can do at your local Tesco Metro- I would go online for this and stock up.  I promise it’s worth it.  I’ve used treacle too, for depth of flavour.  The photographs are, once again, by the fantastic Faith Mason

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 Danish Rye Bread

Makes 1 loaf

You will need:

120g rye flakes
50g rye seeds/grain
80g sunflower seeds
20g linseeds
12g sea salt
30g fresh yeast
50g treacle
250g rye flour, plus a little extra
100g strong bread flour

Method:

1.  The night before you wish to make the loaf, soak the rye flakes, grain and all of the seeds in 200ml of water and leave overnight.

2.  The next day, mix the treacle and 100ml water (at blood temperature) together in a small bowl.  Crumble in the yeast and stir to combine.  Place the flours in a large bowl along with 12g of salt.  Add the yeasty mixture along with the seeds and grains.  Mix until you have a very sticky dough.  Turn this out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.  It will be a very tricky dough to work with- sticky and dense, but that’s to be expected.  Hang in there.

3.  Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave  in a warmish place (an airing cupboard is perfect) for at least one hour, until the dough has visibly risen.  Tip out of the bowl and knead briefly, only for a few seconds, before shaping.  I baked my loaf in a lightly greased 900g/2lb loaf tin.  Leave, covered in a clean tea towel, for a further 45 minutes, until the dough has risen to fill out the tin.

4.  Preheat the oven to 230 C.  Sprinkle the bread with a little extra rye flour then place the tin in the middle of the oven.  Immediately turn the heat down to 180C.  You can also put a baking tray with hot water in the bottom of the oven, to create steam.  Bake for 40 minutes, until the loaf is dark and sounds hollow when tapped on its base.  Turn out of its tin and leave to cool completely before slicing. 

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