A Lifestyle, Travel and Food Blog by Jessica – a Swedish fisherman’s daughter ended up living outside London, England with her husband, three kids and dog. 🇸🇪🇬🇧 Jessica is passionate about writing, food, baking, food, (ahem), travel, the arts, education and Film & TV. Jess most recently completed work on "Drive to Survive" for Netflix. When Jess is not baking, she works as an actress, teacher, voice-over artist and translator.
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth”
Happy Semla Day! Fettisdagen 2020!
Hope you all ate your fair share of yummy Semlor yesterday! We sure did in this family. Goodness me, I stuffed my face! (As one should. It is the tradition after all. Okay… maybe not
tradition but it certainly is expected.
Even Buddy (the Dog) was tempted by my little Mini – Semlor.
Honestly, SO darn cute. They were the kids’ favourites.
It’s the first time in 20 years that I’ve made my own Semlor. God only knows why. They were so easy to make!!
Semlor is part of the Swedish DNA. There are a few things I miss from “home”. Like, things that feel essentially Swedish in a way.
Generally food related but isn’t that always the way?
Anyway, Semlor is definitely one of those things…
Semlor are sweet cardamom buns traditionally filled with an Almond Paste and custard filling. But you can fill them with jam or chocolate or anything you like really. I’ll post a few variations in my next blog post.
I’ve overslept twice for starters. Tuesday, when my parents were flying back to Sweden and I was meant to wake them up (!) and then on again on Wednesday. (Luckily I got the kids to school in time!). I wrapped that up nicely with falling asleep at 8pm whilst putting the toddler back to sleep last night!!
We’re all tired though I think and it’s January. We’re allowed to be a bit out of sorts. It’s grey and slow and a bit eurgh right?
I’ve been doing a lot of “freezer cooking” this week – stews, tarts, pies – that sort of thing. But obviously missed my baking so decided to bring out the easiest (and tastiest) recipe there is.
I made a delicious Swedish Sockerkaka. It’s basically a Vanilla Sponge cake made in a pretty Bundt mould.
It’s one of the first things I ever made on my own. (yeah okay, bar chokladbollar, but they don’t require cooking so don’t really count!)
* A note about the Crumb mix though…
Like a said – it’s essentially a vanilla sponge cake. However; it’s all about the crumb. A lot of the taste and consistency lie in the crumb. If you have access to a Scandinavian shop I really recommend you get a Wasa Breadcrumb mix. It’s got a bit more ”umph” and flavour – it’s really worth it. (It’s a mixture of wheat and rye bread crumbs)
• 3 eggs
• 3 dl caster sugar
• 3 1/2 dl plain flour
• 2 tsk baking powder
• 1 1/2 dl milk
• 50 g softened butter
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F, gas 4, fan 155°C).
⁃ Thoroughly grease a 2 litre or 24 cm sockerkaka mould and sprinkle with *Wasa breadcrumbs
⁃ Beat the eggs and sugars with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
⁃ Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and then carefully fold into the mixture.
⁃ Melt the butter and then add the milk. Bring to a boil and then add to the mixture, beating on the lowest setting until evenly mixed
⁃ Pour the mixture into the mould and then bake at the bottom of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and the mixture begins to pull away from the mould.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to getting back to normality. (Whatever that may be!)
I’ve loved spending some quality time with my family and friends, but I kind of want the every day hustle and bustle back now. (I’m not looking forward to the school run though, that’s another beast altogether).
Speaking of Beasts, we’ve been watching Dracula on BBC one. We’re loving it so far, the first episode was a tad too gruesome for my liking (I’m a massive scaredy-cat to be fair), but all in all very enjoyable. Sister Agatha completely steals the show! Next and last episode tonight.
Anyway, the holidays are very much about food and sweet things in this house. One of my favourite Christmas treats are these Pretzels turtles. I first saw Pioneer woman making these a few years back and they are ever so delicious and super easy to make! Here’s how you make them:
• 24 whole Mini-pretzels
• 24 whole Individually Wrapped Toffees or caramels (either works!)
• Good Quality Milk Chocolate, Melted
• 24 whole Pecan Halves
Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
Place the pecan halves in a single layer on a baking sheet or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the pretzels neatly on the pan, then top each pretzel with a caramel/toffee.
Place the pan into the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the caramels are softened (but definitely not melting.) Remove the pan from the oven.
Gently press a pecan half onto each caramel, just enough for the caramel to fill the pretzel. Set them aside to cool completely.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. When the pretzel/caramels are cooled, remove them from the baking sheet. Spoon small dollops (1 1/2 teaspoon helpings) of chocolate all over the baking mat, then lightly drop each pretzel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure they’re centered.
End of summer. School is a week away and you’re running out of ideas.
You’ve done the puzzles, you’ve done the Lego, watched all the Hey Duggee and Gumball episodes, the trampoline is apparently boooooooring and well, something has to be done to keep the kids entertained.
So. Today the kids and I made gingerbread cookies. Yes. In August.
I know it’s traditionally made at Christmas time but hear me out:
A) they’re super easy to make
B) you get to decorate them – twice! (Shape making first, icing once cooked).
C) It’s ALL AGES FRIENDLY. Now that is something I will get behind. There aren’t a lot of activities out there that caters for ages toddler – ten year old.
D) They’re tasty! Who doesn’t like gingerbread?!
E) They’re so easy to make! (Okay, so I said this already but it deserves a repeat mention)
The recipe I use is a Swedish one. I really, really like the spice mix – so tasty, and it’s “familiar”, homely.
The cookies also do well rolled out thin and baked high and fast!
• 2 1/2 dl light brown sugar
• 3/4 dl *”ljus sirap” or golden syrup
• 3/4 dl water
• 150 g margarine
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tbsp ginger
• 1 tsp clove
• about 6 dl flour (360g) (+ extra for the roll out )
• 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate
This is what you do…
Mix the brown sugar, golden syrup and water in a pot and bring to the boil.
Take off the heat and add the margarine. Allow it to melt and add the spices.
Let it all cool without stirring.
Once cooled, add the bicarbonate and flour.
Wrap in cling film and let it cool at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Heat your oven to 175°C.
Work your dough until it’s smooth and shiny. Don’t be shy with the extra flour but make sure you don’t add too much or they’ll up super dry and crumbly.
Roll out thin and use your cutters to creative fun shapes!
Place on a baking tray covered with
The cookies bake really quickly, about 6-8 minutes.
Can be kept in a airtight container or frozen.
I always make extra dough and freeze for that emergency rainy day activity!
Love, Jess ❤️
* You can find ljus sirap (and mörk sirap) on the Ocado website or in Scandinavian specialist shops. However, Golden syrup works well here too.
My baby girl is five years old. Five… I can’t quite believe it. I remember the night she came into the world.
We were getting ready to go to bed for the evening. I laid down in bed when suddenly I felt a huge gush of water. I was in shock and stumbled into the bathroom. It was happening! It was really happening!!
I had had back low pains all day and that “feeling”. My goodness, I remember googling “when do you know you’re in labour?” about a million times and most of the articles simply said “you just know”.
I hate to tell you this, but it’s true. You just know.
I had an urge to walk. I know how weird that sounds. The back pain was very similar to period pains, but a prolonged version – it never ceased but stayed there throughout. I told my husband I had to walk around, so us and Jackson ended up walking around the block several times.
I had planned to stay home for as long as possible but as there was meconium in the water we had to go into hospital. As a VBAC candidate and having had meconium in the water, I was set up with my very own midwife who looked after me throughout it all. She was so caring and kind, strong and encouraging and really helped me through the rushes of pain. I’m not going to the lie, the gas and air also helped! In all, apart from the consultant and midwifes arguing about how much syntocin to pump into my veins, the birth was pretty uneventful up until 10 centimetres.
Baby Maggie’s heart rate suddenly dropped and she and I were whisked into theatre for an emergency c-section. I was disappointed in having had an assisted birth (since I was a VBAC girl – there is nothing wrong with a c-section birth!) but utterly delighted at the sight of our perfect baby girl.
Out came our beautiful redhead. Caring, passionate, fearless – a one of a kind. She’s artistic, sensitive and clever and I really couldn’t be prouder of this little girl.
Starting school last year, as a tiny little four year old, she took it all in her stride and just got on with it. She did remarkably well, and somehow managed to keep up with her older class mates.
Maggie loves baking (YAY) and often wants to help me in the kitchen. This year we made her birthday cake together – a Lemon Drizzle Cake.
This was super easy to make! She loved helping me squeeze the lemons and measuring it all up. Definitely one to make with your kids.
Here is the recipe we used:
Maggie’s Lemon Drizzle Cake
175g self raising flour
175g caster sugar
175g unsalted butter
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the buttercream
75g sifted icing sugar
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 lemon, juiced and zested
Make sure you eggs and butter are both room temperature before you start.
Pre heat the oven 180 C / 160 C fan / Gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base of two 18cm (7 in) loose bottomed tins.
Gently mix your dry ingredients – the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest into the mixer bowl and mix to create a smooth batter.
Add your wet ingredients – butter, eggs and finally lemon juice.
Evenly distribute the batter between the tins, level with a spatula and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
While the cake is baking make the lemon drizzle syrup. Put the granulated sugar into a bowl, add the lemon juice and mix together to create the syrup.
Once the cake is cooked remove from the oven and place the tins onto cooling racks. Select the best cake for the top tier and drizzle with the lemon sugar syrup. Leave the cakes to cool before removing from their tins and remove the base and lining paper, return to the cooling racks.
For the buttercream icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter, lemon zest and about 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Beat the ingredients to create a stiff cream; add more lemon juice in small quantities to slacken the cream until it is smooth and pliable enough to spread.
We tried a “naked cake” effect. To do this – evenly spread the lemon buttercream onto the bottom cake. Make sure it spills out over the sides. Add your top layer and gently spread the buttercream to the sides. Keep going until the bottom and sides are somewhat covered. Then add buttercream to the top tier. It’s much easier then it sounds and there are some brilliant “how to-“ videos on YouTube.
Decorate the cake! Maggie LOVES unicorns and I found some great DIY Unicorn festive kits on Amazon.