Cinnamon Mince Pie Buns

Holidays are hard work.

It’s also wonderful and magical, especially when you have kids, but it can be stressful and, for some, a sad and lonely time. 

If you have family abroad then Christmas time can make you extremely home sick.

I miss my parents, family and friends, the traditions – like Lucia, but also the Christmas food and all familiar smells.

Cinnamon, cloves, church candles, Star anise, Saffron buns, Julmust, Janssson’s Frestelse, Sill in all different varieties (pickled herring), Julmust, Gingerbread, oranges and clementines.

My parents have been staying with us for a week. They are over visiting the U.K. firstly to watch Jackson perform in his very first Shakespeare play, but also to spend some time with us before Christmas.

For our special Sunday mini Christmas, or “Lill Jul”,  I got to trial a recipe I’ve been dying to try. 

The ultimate Swenglish recipe I suppose – my Cinnamon Mince Pie Buns. 

The first batch came out a bit burned (the oven was too hot), and the second batch I added too much Mince mixture to, but they still tasted nice so I was hopeful.

I made my third batch this morning and they came out beautifully golden, and, I’m happy to say, scrummy to eat. 

Here’s the recipe I used: 

Jessica’s Cinnamon Mince Pie Buns

You’ll need:

A bowl for the dough

Little bowl for the filling mixture

Pot to heat the milk and margarine 

Time: About 2 hours 30 minutes 

Dough

  • 50g fresh yeast
  • 8 dl plain flour 
  • 50 g margarine 
  • 3 dl milk
  • 1/2 dl caster sugar 
  • 1 pinch of salt 

Filling 

  • 50 g margarine 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 dl caster sugar 
  •  4 tbsp Mince Mixture 

Garnish 

  • 1 egg or milk
  •  Pearl sugar 

Make the Dough:

Crumble the yeast and put in a bowl.  Melt the margarine in a pot and add the milk. Warm the milk mixture until 37°C. Now pour some of the mixture over the dough and gently stir until the yeast has dissolved. 

Add the remainder of the milk mixture, sugar, salt and about 6 1/2 dl flour. (You’ll add the rest later when working the dough)

Start working the dough, either by hand or by using a machine. (Start with paddle and change for the hook attachment as you gradually add the flour) 

The dough is ready when it’s silky smooth and not sticking to the sides of the bowl. 

Put a cloth over the bowl and let the dough rest for about 30 min.

For the Filling: 

Cream your sugar and cinnamon with the margarine until you get a fine paste.

Once proved, start working your dough again. Add the remaining flour, little by little. Feel your way here; if you add too much flour your cinnamon buns will end up too dry. 

Cut the dough into two. Now roll each piece into a rectangular shape.

Add your cinnamon paste and your mince mixture. 

I added about two tablespoons for each dough.

From the longer side, roll each dough into a cylinder shape. Use a sharp knife to cut 2 cm thick pieces.

Put your cut pieces, either in paper bun cups or straight onto a tray with baking paper. 

Cover your Cinnamon Mince Pie Buns and let them prove for about 20 min. (They should double in size) 

Brush your buns with the whisked egg or milk and sprinkle the pearl sugar on top. 

Bake your buns in a very hot oven (250°C, 200°C for about 8 mins or until golden brown. 

Place on a rack to cool. ENJOY. 

God Jul ❤️ Merry Merry 

Love, Jess

How to make Spooky Halloween Brownies

Being a Swenglish family we have the luxury to mix, amend, borrow and sometimes create a lot of our holidays. We can chose the things we like and make them into our own family tradition. 

For example, we celebrate traditional

Swedish holidays like Lucia and Midsummer, we have a Crayfish party in August, and an annual Eurovision party in May. 

We have a little mini Swedish Christmas on the 24th of December with the Christmas ham and Jansson’s but our Christmas is on the 25th.  

We celebrate Bonfire night, “Mys” on a Friday and generally have a roast every Sunday. 

We join the hordes of other revellers in park on a Bank holiday. (Even if it rains!) 

It made me think though. Other than Easter and a Royal Wedding – what other British holidays are there? 

Anyway. It’s lovely to pick and choose really. The best of both worlds!

We’ve also borrowed from our cousins overseas and have totally embraced Halloween.

The best Halloween I ever experienced was when I lived in Illinois in the nineties, but that’s a story for another day. 

This year we’re in Tenerife, Spain on holiday over Halloween and so it has been a very different experience. 

Believe Hotel Halloween Entertainment Schedule

The hotel we’re staying in have gone full out, with tons of decorations and dress up opportunities and lots of different activities everyday so the kids (and grownups) will get the full Halloween experience! 

Apparently their Casa del Terror is meant to be be really scary…. We’ll send Brooks to trial and review it on Wednesday.  

For me, one of the awesome parts of Halloween is all the fun Halloween theme food you can serve – and eat! 

Before we left England the kids and I made some spooky brownies. They’re super easy to make and so tasty. Kids and grownup alike will love these!  

This is the recipe we used…

You’ll need:

2 bowls 

1 microwave safe bowl

Small pan

20 square tin 

Baking parchment 

Edible eyes (sugar craft) 

4 large eggs

250g unsalted butter

200g good quality cocoa powder

300g caster sugar 

300g flour 

Pinch of salt 

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract 

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder 

50g white chocolate and 50g dark  chocolate

Marshmallows (we used the extra big fluffy kind and used about 5) 

  1. Preheat you oven to 175°. We used a 20cm square tin for this. (It depends on the consistency you’re after. If you use a smaller tin your batter will be more gooey, if using a bigger tin, the batter will be crispy). Add some baking parchment to stop it from sticking to the bottom.
  2. Meanwhile, cut up your white and dark chocolate into chunks. You’ll use these later once the brownie isbaked. 
  3. Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa powder. 
  4. In a different bowl mix together eggs and sugar. Once mixed, fold in the dry ingredients adding the flour and baking powder last.  
  5. Tip you batter into the tin and spread out evenly.
  6. Add you white and dark chocolate chunks to the batter.
  7. Put your mixture into the oven and cook for about 20 -25 minutes. 
  8. Let your brownies cool.
  9. Once cooled, put your marshmallow into a microwave safe bowl and melt for about 30 seconds a go. You want it really sticky and gooey.
  10. Take your marshmallow mess and this is the tricky sticky part.
  11. Word of advice: You’ll have to work fast with this one as the mixture will cool and harden quickly. Dip your fingers into the marshmallow mixture and carefully pull strings over the brownie, effectively making a web like patter. Keep adding more and more marshmallow strings. 
  12. Add your edible eyes 
  13. Now it’s ready to be served whole as a cake, or cut into individual squares.


How to make Jansson’s Frestelse

Christmas is less than 10 weeks away.

We’re in Christmas prep mode in our house. (Yeah, no. Mainly me. I am in prep mode. Kids and husband are blissfully unaware)

I’ve bought most of the presents, planned the advent calendar, what decorations to make and use, drinks and food menus and the colour scheme on the tree. 

With age I’ve come to realise that I may just be a teeny tiny bit OCD when it comes to Christmas and especially when it comes to decorating the tree… 

But I digress. 

So you may have noticed that I like food. 

I like discussing food, watching programmes of people like Nigella and Gordon making it, looking at pictures of food, food competition programmes, cooking myself but also eating it. 

For me, food plays a major role in making Christmas magical. 

And for a Swede living in the UK, Swedish Christmas food become extra important. It’s nostalgia, cosy, familiar… it’s Yule. 

I order my Swedish Christmas food from Totally Swedish and the Swedish Shop on Ocado online every year. 

There has to be a Christmas Ham, Julmust (a special soft drink), meatballs, prinskorv (mini sausages), my Swedish Sticky Ribs and Jansson.

Heck. I’d even go so far as to say I’d try making ”Dopp i grytan”, just to feel extra Christmassy. 

(Even though, like Lena in Svensson, Svensson I know that no one would eat from the pot anyway) 

For those of you who haven’t tried it Janssson’s Frestelse is a traditional Swedish Potato Gratin dish. But tastier.

Since I want to avoid any disasters on the actual day, I trial the food in the weeks leading up to on Christmas Eve and Day. (The Swedes celebrate on the 24th – more on that in another post!).

This week I’ve made Janssson’s Frestelse and I’d like to share my recipe with you. 

Janssson’s frestelse is traditionally made of potatoes, onions, *pickled sprats, bread crumbs and cream. 

For my version, I’ve added some shallots as I think it really complements the dish.

You will need: 

  • 1 1/2 kg potatoes – the waxy kind (Maris Piper or King Edward)
  • 2 big yellow onions and 1 shallot onion
  • Proper butter (for frying and to dollop on top of gratin before cooking)”
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tin sprats (à 100 g)
  • 4 dl double cream
  • 2 dl milk
  • Plenty of breadcrumbs to cover the dish (about 2 tbls)
  • Sugar (for caramelising the onions) 
  • Deep oven dish, smothered in butter
  • Pot to boil your double cream and milk 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 160˚C. (fan assisted) 

Peel the onions, shallots and potatoes. Slice the onion thinly, chop the shallots very fine and fry them in the butter. Add the sugar to caramelise. Add a pinch of cinnamon.

Cut the potatoes into thin strips

Potato on a board
Sliced potato

Take out your sprats and lay them to one side. Take the juices and put into a bowl. You will mix in the sprat juices with the milk and cream later on. 

Now layer your onions, potatoes and sprat fillets in a deep dish – sort of like you would a lasagne. 

Start and end with a layer of potato. 

Milk and cream summering

Heat your milk and double creme on a gentle heat on your stove. Let it simmer for a minute then take away from the heat. Mix in the sprat juices. 

Pour the liquid over your potato and onion dish. Add the breadcrumbs over the top and add small knobs of butter on top. The butter will bring some extra crunch and tastiness to the dish. 

Bake in the lower part of your oven for about an 1 hour, 1 1/2. 

Janssons Frestelse

The potatoes should be soft, the milky cream should be reduced and the top a lovely light brow colour.

(If you find that your dish is getting too dark then put some foil on top to stop it from burning.)

Sprats

*if you’re not a fish fan, then you can leave this item out, but as the sprats and its juices gives the dish its saltiness you’d have to balance the dish well when seasoning 

Enjoy!

How to make Swiss Meringue Raspberry Buttercream Icing

Söndagsbak.

It all starts off so harmoniously and zen.

You and your Child relaxed and ready to do some baking together.

Bonding time.

The Child gets to stir and mix the batter and help pour the batter into the cake tin. Most of the precious cake batter ends up on the floor and although you flinch involuntarily, you’re still pretty zen and it’s okay because, you know, it’s baking with Child time. But then halfway through, whilst stirring your Swiss meringue icing thinking why on Earth you decided to attempt a **Swiss Meringue, you realise that – No! You’re not actually that relaxed about the whole baking with Child thing and “No! you can’t pour oregano into the egg whites!!”

Still.

It was lovely to eat the cake in the end. And the icing was to die for.

Here’s the icing recipe I used:

Swiss Meringue Raspberry Buttercream

I started with my raspberry coulis. I heated the raspberries on a gentle heat in a pot until they were breaking down.

Once cooled, I ran it through the food processors and finally through a sieve to remove the pips.

Onto your icing. Your eggs should be at room temperature. Leave those bad boys out early on so they’re ready for baking time.

Whip your egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a simmering pan of water. The bowl shouldn’t touch the water. Keep whisking continuously. You need to keep going until it turns silky and smooth. The mixture will turn thinner and frothier as you go on.

A good tip is that if you rub the mixture between your fingers and if it’s grainy then KEEP GOING. (It took about 10 minutes of continuous stirring to get to this point). It’s really weird because I kept thinking it’s neeeeeeveer going to turn and then suddenly you end up with a silky and smooth texture.

The next step is important. Make sure your mixture is cool completely before you start adding your butter!

It’ll end up a runny mess otherwise – take my word for it! Ahem…

Once the mixture is cool, start whisking until stiff peaks. (Coincidentally this is a good time to reintroduce Child to the baking process. Try the old “I will flip the Meringue mixture over my head to see if it’s set.”)

Anyway. The result is amazing. The icing is so silky and luxurious!

Now you add your butter. It should be room temperature but still be able to hold its shape.

Add about a tablespoon at a time, and keep mixing.

Once I had added all my butter I mixed in the raspberry coulis, a pinch of sea salt (balance is everything right?) and stirred.

The result was absolutely fantastic! I’ll definitely be using this frosting/icing from now on. So tasty and not too sweet. Just spot on.

*Do not worry if your mixture is too runny. It’s still salvageable. I put it back into the fridge to cool down for twenty minutes and it was good to go.

**It really wasn’t that much extra work. It sounds like a palaver but it’s not. Trust me.

How to make a Swedish Sandwich Cake

Any Swedish birthday party, christening or work do would not be the same without a luscious tasty smörgåstårta – the much loved sandwich cake.

Layers of bread with gorgeous filling in between each layer. Finished off with a savoury icing and decorations on top. (Yes. You can probably tell I like smörgåstårta.)

My husband and I met at Uni. We had not been going out for long and it was his birthday coming up. I wanted to surprise him and make him something really special for his birthday. Awesome girlfriend points and all that.

He came over to my house and I sang happy birthday and presented him with the cake. He looked confused:

“- Aw thank you… You’ve made me a… Er… Mega club sandwich?

⁃ No! Well, I guess it might look like a club sandwich to you… It’s a sandwich cake. A Swedish specialty.

⁃ Ah…. You said you made me a birthday cake?

⁃ Yes. This. Is. A. Cake. Ta da!

⁃ But… cakes are sweet. This is savoury? It’s a sandwich –

⁃ …Cake! See?”

He tried the cake, he loved it and married me.

I realise that the sound of a savoury cake might seem a bit strange. You know, a bit like Peter Kay and the Garlic Bread… (If you’ve not seen the clip I’m referring to then look it up – it’s hilarious!)

For my Swedish friends, however, smörgåstårta is as normal and traditional as meatballs and lingonsylt, IKEA and rain on Midsummer Night’s eve.

I’ve made a few of these through the years and they’re always very popular. For birthdays, school graduations and for our children’s christenings.

There are hundreds of recipes out there. You can use so many different fillings – tuna, bacon, ham, pate, egg, prawns and salmon – whatever takes your fancy.

My absolute favourite is the tuna mayo and prawn variety. I have a recipe I’ve used over the years. I’ve adapted it somewhat to suit my British family’s palates and I thought I’d share it with you here:

Jessica’s Swedish Sandwich Cake

(This cake will feed about 15 – 20 people)

A big tray covered with foil

Spatula

Chopping board

3 mixing bowls

Ingredients:

2 loaves of white (toast) bread (about 45 pieces). This depends on the size of the tray of course.

Filling 1, Tuna:

3 cans of tuna in water

2 dl mayonnaise

3 dl cremefraiche

1 tbl Dijon mustard

1/2 lemon juice

Dill, finely chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Filling 2, Prawn:

300g peeled prawns

1/2 lemon juice

1 dl dill, finely chopped

2 dl mayonnaise

2 dl creme fraiche

For the “icing”

2 dl whipping cream

3 dl creme fraiche

0.5 dl mayonnaise

1 dl dill, finely chopped

1/2 lemon juice

For decorating the cake:

Hard-boil and peel 5 eggs then finely chop

Prawns (about 300 gr)

Cucumbers, very thinly sliced

Cherry tomatoes

Lemon slices, cut into triangles

Dill

Red or Black roe (optional)

Method:

Keep your fillings in two separate bowls. Drain the water from the tuna. Mix all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Do the same with your second mixture.

Put the fillings the fridge while you start on your “icing”.

Whip up your cream to just about the soft peak stage.

Fold in the creme fraiche and mix gently. Fold in the mayonnaise, dill and lemon juice and mix gently.

Leave in fridge to cool.

Get your bread ready by cutting off all the hard edges.

Lay the bread down to make an even first layer – 9 in total.

Get your fillings from the fridge.

Gently add some of the tuna filling to the first layer. Leave a little space at the edges or the filling will spill out at the sides.

Add a second layer of 9 bread slices on top of your tuna filling.

Now add your prawn filling and then repeat the process twice. (1 more layer of tuna, 1 more prawn)

You will end up with 2 layers of each filling in total.

Add a final layer of bread.

Get your icing out of the fridge and completely cover your cake with the icing. Use a spatula as it always end up a bit messy.

Once you’re done then wrap the cap carefully with clingfilm and leave in the fridge.

This cake will taste better if made ahead of your party, preferably the night before.

Party Time! Now comes the fun part – decorating the cake.

Add the chopped up egg to all sides of your cake and on top. Make a pretty patter using the prawns, tomatoes, dill and fishroe.

Add the thinly sliced cucumber to all sides of the cake.

Cut the lemon into tiny quarters and add to the top of the cake.

Enjoy!