One of my favourite magazines, is Delicious Magazine and in the November issue, 'The Nordic Baking Book' was given a mention.
There was no glossy cover picture, just a very simple title of what to expect inside. I just had to have this book. It's a behemoth of a book, that took the author, Magnus Nilsson, 6 years to research and write. As a result, it comes at a higher price than you will find for most other cook books. Personally I think it's worth it. It contains a selection of over 450 recipes and documents the local baking traditions throughout the Nordic countries of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland Norway and Sweden. There are recipes with regional variations of the classics, some with a modern twist and Magnus's family recipes.
Don't go straight to the Index
Normally with cook books, you dive straight to the index to see what to bake first, but with this book, it's essential that you read ALL of the introductory chapters. These include;
- How the Nordic Baking Book was written
- The Four Grains of the Nordic Region
- A Brief History of Nordic Bread - This chapter is written by Richard Telstrom Associate professor, Food Culture Historian
- The Importance of Fika
- Notes on Baking - all 37 pages
- Breads based on Wheat Flour
Once you have read each of these chapters, your outlook on baking will change dramatically. Knowing the difference between the flours to use, going to the supermarket, you will look at bags of flour with different, more knowledgable eyes. It's also important, because when the recipe lists (soft) Wheat flour when making a cake, you know exactly what to use. Much easier, I think, than having to work out if you need Self-raising, plain, all purpose, cake or bread flour. Knowing which of the grains has the least amount of gluten and why they won't give you nice fluffy light cakes, will go a long way, when it comes to substituting flours when your store cupboard is bare.
All ovens are different.
What I also like about this book, is the author reiterating the fact that all ovens are different and we need to become accustomed to our own. Knowing how the temperatures work and adjust if needed. Same goes about adapting the recipes, try them first and then adapt to your own taste.
What I made
My first recipe of choice to try was Cinnamon Buns. I've never made them before and have always hankered after these since a trip to Canada many years ago. The recipe calls for you to make a batch of Sweet Wheat Bun dough. There were 3 recipes to choose from. The first being the most common used for Cinnamon Buns in Scandinavia. The following two are richer, buttery versions of the first one. I chose the first recipe.
When a recipe calls for Yeast, Fresh Yeast is used throughout. Personally I prefer fresh yeast. The hardest part of this recipe was de-seeding and grinding down the required 2 teaspoons of fresh cardamom seeds, to flavour the dough, in my Mortar and Pestle. Well worth doing.
I let the hard work of kneading to my work horse of a mixer. After that, rolling out the dough, spreading it with softened butter, then dusting with castor sugar and cinnamon, filled my kitchen with spice bliss. The result was sublime. The family reported that it needs more cinnamon, but I think not. Cinnamon can last longer on the palate. What I think it did need, is for me to add the required drizzle of white water icing. A touch of additional sweetness to offset the slight bitterness of cinnamon.
A few days later I made 3 plain wheat loaves and basic wheat scones. The recipe for the scones required milk and as I had some buttermilk in the fridge, I used that. I had to use a little more than the recipe said for milk to get the required sticky dough consistency. That's because the buttermilk I use was from the supermarket which is thicker than the buttermilk you get when you turn double cream into butter and the liquid that's left is buttermilk, which has more liquid consistency.
I'm already starting to plan for the festive season, and what to bake for Christmas Day breakfast. I quite fancy the Nordic version of French Toast. This consists of toasted slices of bread, soaked in freshly made wheat flour batter. Then fried in butter over a medium heat before coating with a cinnamon and sugar mix.
No gluten Free
For anyone looking for gluten free recipes, you will not find any. As the author says, to adapt recipes will take additional time and reduce the amount of recipes in the book as a whole. There are many sites dedicated to Gluten Free. There's a Gluten Free Mango and Passionfruit cake by guest author Chris Waling on my list of recipes.
Weights are in Metric, Imperial and Cups.
If you get your hands on a copy, I'd love to hear what you think and what you decide to bake.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I bought the book from Amazon. This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. Find out more about affiliate links