Fastelavens boller (aka Norwegian semlor)

February 12, 2013 § 26 Comments

fastelavensboller 3fastelavensboller 1

aka Fat Tuesday buns, if you don’t know what any of those other things mean.

Yes, it’s Fat Tuesday, and while in some parts of the world this means shiny beads, and raucous parades with floats, and beignets, across Scandinavia, it means buns.  I don’t know the history of how this particular regionally specific way of preparing for Lent came to be (I mean seriously, why buns?  Why not, I guess.), but since I grew up with it, I’m awfully fond of it.

Basically, I wait for this day all year, just so I can eat these buns.

bolle dough risingboller unbaked

The best known of the Fat Tuesday buns are the Swedish semlor (the plural of semla).  Theirs are sweet cardamom buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream.  If you’d like you can drown them in warm milk before serving.  Danish and Icelandic Fat Tuesday buns are more like pate a choux, stuffed with whipped cream and jam and topped with chocolate (and here I must also admit that the Icelanders actually eat theirs on the Monday before, which they call bun day.  Those Icelanders, always trying to be different…). « Read the rest of this entry »

“Em’s Buns

September 26, 2011 § 6 Comments


…They’re cheeky! (TM)”  That’s the name and slogan of my imaginary company. In my mind I even have caps and aprons with this printed on them, along with a little line drawing of a rotund bun speckled with sesame seeds. You see, when I threaten to drop out of my PhD program, (which happens at least once a week, if not more. The threats increase with the approach of each deadline and then subside after successfully achieving said deadline.  It’s kind of one of my ways of pretending like I’m rebellious, and of asserting my sense of autonomy – and the word on the street is almost every PhD student under the sun does something similar, well except for the part to follow) my plan for what I will do next is to start a bicycle-pulled food stand from which I will sell little stuffed buns as an afternoon snack from 2:30-5pm.  And, it’s my idea, so don’t steal it!! 🙂

The idea for afternoon buns was inspired by the buns they have at the St. John Hotel. I’ve never had their afternoon buns, but I read their description of them as “warm little buttock-like buns” and I thought it was the most hilarious and ingenious thing ever. Basically everything Fergus Henderson does is genius.

A little stuffed bun is exactly what I want as a snack in the afternoon every day. So, I decided I absolutely had start working on making them.

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Skolebrød + 2 years old!

August 24, 2011 § 34 Comments

5 & Spice is two years old (two years young?) today!  Admittedly, in the scheme of blogs, that’s not very old yet.  But, to be perfectly honest, when I first started writing, I’m pretty sure I expected that by the end of two years, I wouldn’t have anything left to say.  Instead, I feel like I keep having more to say, more that I’m excited about, more I want to share with you.

It’s like one of those conversations where, each time it starts trickling off and you think maybe it will end, instead a new and even more exciting topic comes up, and you keep talking, until finally you look up and notice that the sun is rising, you’ve been talking all night, and you can’t think of any other way you would rather have spent your time.

I’m not one of those people lucky enough to have discovered early on that they have a calling (to those of you who do, I am way jealous!), however, having stumbled into this little world of developing, photographing, and writing about recipes (okay, okay, and writing about my random thoughts and stories), it feels suspiciously close to one.  It’s more of a persistent beckoning, perhaps, than a “haloo-there” call.

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Syrian Flat bread

June 5, 2011 § 11 Comments

Okay, I’m afraid this is going to have to be a short one.  Like, a really short one. Blink and you’ll miss it!  But anyways, I realized that when I was talking about my mushroom-falafels (or falafshrooms, if you prefer) I told you that I made a batch of homemade flatbread and then left you hanging.  And, well, friends don’t tell friends about supple, chewy fresh-from-the-oven flatbreads and then not share the recipe.  So, here it is!

It was partially inspired by a pita recipe, but then I remembered that, actually, I don’t like pitas as much as I like more tender, thicker enriched flatbreads, the style you might get at a Syrian restaurant for example.  So, I fiddled with the recipe to make these breads more like those.  With a little nod to naan, as well, since it’s my favorite flatbread.  These are fairly easy as far as bread goes, and worth rolling your sleeves up and grabbing the mixing bowl for.  Plus, you can make a bunch and freeze some (in freezer bags) to reheat later.  If you’re me this will turn out to be a mere two days later.  Oh well.  I’ll just have to make another batch soon. « Read the rest of this entry »

Prosciutto and Mozzarella bread

March 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

 

Yeah, I know, right?  Prosciutto and Mozzarella in bread.  I kind of feel like I don’t even need to write anything more because it’s just exactly as amazingly ridiculously good as it sounds. I can’t believe I haven’t done this before.  After all, the whole concept makes so darn much sense!  You put ham and cheese on your bread all the time.  I could come very close to being happy eating ham and cheese for lunch every single day – indeed, I think my mother actually does.  So, why on Earth not put the ham and cheese in the bread?  Why not indeed?  And here it is, in all its glory.  Every bite of tender, spongey crumb pocketed through with crevices oozing gooey cheese or sheltering salty, savory meat.  Such a good idea.

It’s not a particularly original idea.  I can’t make any claim to it, and in fact  I believe there are a number of variations on bread studded with ham and cheese, or other similar combinations, floating about out there.  Actually, come to think of it, I even had something similar on a visit to San Francisco that went by the name of Syrian shepherd’s bread.  It had olives instead of meat though, which would be a nice vegetarian alternative.   The inspiration for this particular loaf came from a cooking friend who said that she and her husband had become addicted to a pancetta and provolone bread from Eataly on a recent trip to New York.  After returning home, suddenly deprived of their bready-cheesy-meaty fix, she decided to try to recreate it, using a version of Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread (which is actually Jim Lahey’s bread, but it was popularized via a write-up in the Times by Bittman).  Upon hearing about this, I promptly decided I needed to do the same.

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Mushroom, spinach, and cheese roulade

December 4, 2010 § 7 Comments

I had the sudden realization during a conversation the other day that I have a tendency to go through, shall we say, unique obsessive phases.  I was telling someone that I was really obsessed with igneous rocks – well, actually just obsidian and pumice – for about a year in middle school, and they gave me a look that clearly said, “I think that either you are from some planet that is separated from Earth by at least one asteroid belt, or else you probably grew up under one of those igneous rocks that you were obsessed with.”  It had never really occurred to me before that this kind of obsession may not be entirely normal, and then I started thinking about some of my other obsessions.  Scarab beetles, for a while.  I was also fixated on Aquaporins (that would be the protein channels that allow water to travel through cell walls) and prions (the misfolded proteins that cause mad cow disease) at various points in time.  And the concept of zero.  And bloodroot flowers.  And the “cerulean” Crayola crayon.  And, well, you get the idea.

I also go through obsessive food phases (surprising no one).  Like ricotta, or lemon zest, or chorizo, or mini turnovers.  The phase I am currently in is Ottolenghi.  That would be Yotam Ottolenghi and his eponymous cafes in London.  One of my younger brothers is currently in London for grad school, which means that in theory he could get take out from Ottolenghi any time he wished.  Ah, how unfair the world is.  My obsession with Ottolenghi is by no means unique, however.  He’s a bit of a buzzword in the food world, particularly because he has a new cookbook of vegetarian recipes out this year, and ever growing swaths of people are being extolling how fresh, curious, vibrant, and downright stunning his recipes are.  He is the cure for food doldrums.

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