Kanel Snegle (cinnamon swirls)

Kanel Snegle

Kanel Snegle

Kanel snegle – what I always picked when I, as a child, was lucky enough to get free choice at the bakery on a Sunday morning.

It is one of many traditional Danish pastries – butter filled, crisp on the outside and soft, sweet and cinnamony on the inside.

Irresistible to be honest and still my first choice today when I am lucky enough to be in Denmark….

Recipe is from Froeken Jensen’s Bagebog – classic Danish cookbook based on recipes from the 1900’s.

Kanel Snegle

250g flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

2 tbs sugar

150g butter

75ml milk

25g fresh yeast (or 2 sachets dry yeast)

Butter/Cinnamon Spread

75g butter

50g icing sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

To make the dough

  • Mix flour, salt, cardamom and sugar together
  • Add the butter to the floury mix – and combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  • In a small saucepan heat the milk gently until it is luke warm then remove from heat source
  • Dissolve the fresh yeast in the luke warm milk with a wooden spoon
  • Add the milk to the flour and combine the two; knead until the dough forms a soft ball – slightly sticky and shiny
  • Place the kneaded dough ball in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel
  • Leave the bowl in a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes
  • Pre-heat oven to 225C

To make the spread

  • Ensure butter is room temperature
  • In a bowl, combine butter, cinnamon and icing sugar and keep stirring until a sweet, cinnamon butter is created

Creating the swirls

  • Once the dough has risen, roll it into a rectangular shape on a floured surface
  • With a big spoon, a spatula or other easy tool, cover the dough with the cinnamon spread
  • Loosely roll the dough into a sausage shape – roll it by length
  • With a sharp knife, cut slices of the dough (about two cm thick), and place these on a lined baking tray
  • Once the tray is full, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for 15 minutes
  • Once completely risen, brush with egg or cream to create a golden colour, and place in the pre-heated oven
  • Bake for about 12 minutes
  • Once brown and cooked remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack
  • When cooler, decorate with icing (icing sugar and a little water mixed together)
  • Enjoy them when still slightly warm – that is when they are at their best!

Spreading cinnamon butterReady to riseWorking hardDSC_0025

Kanel Snegle

Kanel Snegle

Cookie Christmas Tree

Have I mentioned how much I love baking? Probably a thousand times…I just do though. It is a great way to spend time together, the house smells wonderful afterwards and especially at Christmas time there is something slightly magical about it. Maybe the shapes…stars, trees, snow flakes…love, love love it!

Anyway, enough of my blabber, yesterday’s advent “togetherness” activity in our house was making a Cookie Christmas Tree. By the time we had gotten back from school, made the dough, left it to chill for a bit (while we watched a short episode of a daily Advent Calendar series from Denmark – thank you Katrine for highlighting and reminding me!) and baked them it was too late to decorate! We therefore did the decorating this morning and ate it as part of pudding with friends for lunch! Was great!

The dough is quick and simple, has few ingredients, and can be used to make any shape you like. I have used it for years, not sure where I got it from, but the idea for the Christmas Cookie Tree came from a picture I saw in a Sainsburys catalogue a few weeks ago.

450g plain flour
225g butter – softened
225g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
Icing sugar, silver balls, edible glitter and food colouring to decorate
  • Put flour and butter in a bowl and chop into it until the mixture resembles big breadcrumbs (bit of a strange description but not sure how else to explain!)

As you can see it is a very serious exercise that requires not only deep concentration but preferably an army apron as well as penguin chefs hat?! 

  • Add the caster sugar and keep cutting into it to combine

  • Crack the egg into the mixture, as well as adding the vanilla essence – this is when the dough will start to come together

  • Your hands now need (quite a nice necessity actually!) to go into the dough in order that the warmth from them make the butter soften. The floury mixture quickly becomes a smooth dough ball….so so tempting to eat! It will, one day, be added to ice cream I think…hmmm. The children loved this bit…

  • Once combined, and tasted (!), wrap in cling film and put in the fridge. Leave it there for about half an hour to chill – this will make it easier to roll out and use. Less sticking to the work surface!

  • Once chilled, preheat oven to 190C and then use different sized star cookie cutters to cut out as many star shapes as you can. We ended up with 8 big, 8 medium, 8 small and 6 tiny ones… It is important you have different sizes or it will not end up looking like a tree when you layer the cookies…

  • Place cookies in the pre heated oven for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. If you leave them longer they will be slightly darker and more crisp – which you may prefer – up to you!
  • Let cool on wire racks and once completely cool you can make the Christmas Tree.
  • Mix icing sugar with a bit of water and food colouring of your choice. We used green for the main tree stars and yellow for the tiny ones we put on top.
  • Using wooden sticks as tools, let your children colour the stars. Once iced, layer them starting with the biggest stars and working your way to the smaller ones as you ascend the tree. Also lay them so that they are slightly off centre – see picture – all the way to the top.

  • Once done – dust with icing sugar and decorate….
  • Use as centre piece on the table or just eat! We did both!

Christmas Feeling is definitely growing here….every day getting a bit closer…are you feeling it?

Some layers with your, blue?!, cake…

This kind of cake is what you get when it is your birthday in Denmark (except for the colour which is what you get when you have a slightly mad 4 year old boy)! There is rarely a shop bought cake in sight, no fondant icing, no silly shapes and figurines…just good, old cake! Lots of layers, lots of whipped or vanilla cream and usually lots of fruit. It is very simple but I can tell you; it takes your breath away (mine at least). I will never get too old for this kind of cake and my husband, a die-hard chocolate cake fan, has even been converted! There are lots of reasons why – it is light, sweet, fresh, soft…just gorgeous!

The recipe, passed on to me by my sister-in-law (who, by the way, makes it to perfection!) is used to create the three layers for the cake. Once the basic dough is made and cooked you can fill and decorate as you wish – as you can see from the pictures my children often pick the colour of their icing as well as what fruit goes into it!

Make the layers and cake the day before you want to serve/eat it and refrigerate, but do not ice/chocolate coat it. This allows the flavours to develop and more importantly the sponge layers to get the moisture from the fruit and cream. On the day of serving, ice or chocolate coat it.

5 eggs – separated
210g caster sugar
150g flour – sieved
1 tsp baking powder
  • Preheat your oven to 180C
  • Separate your egg whites and egg yolks

  • Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff – turn bowl upside down to make sure they are ready!!!! The best test…really. Promise.

  • Add the sugar to the stiff egg whites, a little at a time. Watch the white colour change from matt to silky smooth – so beautiful. Wish I could jump into it….velvet!

  • Once completely mixed, add the egg yolks to the white mix – another beautiful change of colour as you slowly add the yellow…

  • Put flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and combine well. Sieve this mixture into the egg batter and carefully fold into the mix with a spatula.
  • You should now have a creamy, thick (and incredibly tasty!) dough.
  • Pour the dough into a lined round cake tin.

  • Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes – it will be light brown in colour and spongy to the touch. With this I mean that if you gently press the top of the cake, your finger should feel a spring back rather than a sinking in feeling….Hope that makes sense!
  • Once cooked, let cool in the tin on a wire rack.

  • When completely cold, with a sharp and long knife, cut three layers. This can be a bit tricky but if you do it slowly you should be OK. It is fine if there is a small hole here or there – believe me, once filled, no one will know (or care)!

Now for the filling! You can, literally, combine any fruit, jam, whipped cream and berry you like…It just works…Here are my favourites:

  • Whip whipping cream with vanilla essence and a tbsp sugar until creamy. Add raspberries (or strawberries) and whip a bit more to make pink cream! Like you would lasagne, place a layer of cake on the bottom, then a layer of raspberry cream, then another layer of cake, then the raspberry cream and then, on top, melted dark chocolate… (place pieces of chocolate in heatproof bowl with a few tbsp of whipped cream, over simmering water, slowly stir till melted. Scoop onto cake’s top layer and gently spread to cover…let ooze over the sides! Let chocolate set and then refrigerate until ready to serve (I have decorated with candied lemon peel here).

  • Spread strawberry jam onto the bottom layer and top with crushed macaroons. Put whipped cream (whipped with vanilla essence and a tbsp sugar until creamy) on top and place a second cake layer onto this. Add whipped cream and fresh strawberries onto this layer and place final cake on top. Thinly coat the top with the whipped cream and cover in fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…you name it! Beautiful and so tasty! (Don’t forget to lick the spoons!)

  • A very delicate version is to add a bit of instant coffee powder to the whipped cream mixture and spread this onto every layer. For the topping, add instant coffee powder to icing sugar and a little water and make a thin coffee paste that you then spread on the surface. Absolutely divine!
  • A layer of pineapple and whipped cream followed by a layer of strawberries and whipped cream – with the topping being icing sugar, water and food colouring of your choice! Banana also works well as a layer.

If you are not a whipped cream fan you can make this gorgeous vanilla cream – also often used in Denmark – and use instead. Simply layer it with the fruit as above.

Vanilla Cream

1 egg
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
200 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla sugar (can be bought in Waitrose or make your own by adding the inside of a vanilla pod to some caster sugar)
  • Whip egg and sugar until fluffy and light
  • Pour into a sauce pan and whisk in the flour
  • Add the milk to the saucepan and heat it all slowly. Stir constantly while it is heating – and low heat – we don’t want scrambled eggs!
  • Bring it to the boil and once boiling add the vanilla sugar
  • It is now ready! Let it cool and use as mentioned above. It is also very tasty to put a combination of this cream and whipped cream into the layers.