Making munker (æbleskiver)

IMG_20180331_205645.jpgMore exciting cooking projects: making munker! These are Norwegian pancake puffs, though you might know them as æbleskiver, the Danish name. The cast iron pan was a birthday present from my mother, and it travelled Norway-London-Accra-Rome the last couple months. Realizing that Rome has better cooking conditions that sweat-dripping Accra, I took the pan back for Easter and tried it out at a friend’s house.  Often made with buttermilk or kefir and baking soda, but these were made with milk and yeast.

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Everything measured out and ready to go: this only needs 30 minutes to rise, so I assembled it on arrival at our friend’s house. Just whisk this together, cover bowl with tea towel and enjoy your dinner. I found this recipe on the always enjoyable Recipe Reminiscing: Maiden Draason’s Apple Slices (monks)

Munker (pancake puffs, with milk and yeast)

25 grammes fresh yeast (or 12.5 grammes dry)
250 ml milk
1 tbs sugar
60 grammes of soft butter
4 eggs
zest of 1/2 lemon (I skipped this, as I had none)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
300 ml plain white flour

Extra butter for frying
Jam or icing sugar to serve: we used crema di pistachio, which was gorgeous

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After half an hour, the batter was bubbly and frothy.  I heated the cast iron pan (9 holes) on the gas burner, brished the holes lightly with butter and spooned in about 2/3 hoe worth of batter. Very exciting! I did have several helpers. Here we are, turning them 3/4 with wooden skewers so the batter runs out to complete the sphere of pancake. We tried, we erred, we improved. We ate them all.

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Not quite spherical, but better: serve warm with jam and enjoy! These were very light and more-ish, and the batter made 3-4 rounds worth. Definitely to be explored with the sour milk variations, which would be tangier. The pan should also work well for takoyaki (octopus balls), which will be tried.

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Skillingsboller: Norwegian cinnamon buns

IMG_20180401_161747.jpg Coming from Accra, Rome at Easter was lovely also temperature-wise. I baked up a storm! Bread, bread rolls, and these Norwegian cinnamon buns. Skillingsboller are also known as “kanel i svingene”, cinnamon in the turns. This uses a basic sweet yeasted dough, which is very adaptable.

Skillingsboller (Norwegian cinnamon buns)

15 grammes fresh yeast (or 7-8 grammes dry yeast)
150 grammes butter
700 ml milk
160 grammes sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 kilo flour
pinch of salt

Filling:
60-100 grammes soft butter (I used 50, not quite enough I thought – depends on your preferences)
60-100 ml sugar  (I used 60, fine for me)
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Warm the milk and butter in a small casserole, just enough for butter to melt. Let it cool to lukewarm, so you do not kill the yeast. Add flour, sugar, cardamom, salt, and knead it all together. Cover bowl and leave to rise in a sunny spot for an hour so until it doubles.

Knead again, and divide dough in two.  Roll each dough half out to a rough rectangle.  Spread the dough surface with soft butter, then sprinkle it  with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the rectangle into a scroll away from you, rolling the long side nearest you. Tuck it in so you have a long roll.
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Slice the roll from the short end so you get little dough rolls. Stand them on a cut side, on baking parchment. Cover and leave to rest and rise, at least half an hour. They will rise and get puffier.

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Bake at 240C for 10-12 minutes until golden. These were a little dry, but very nice tastewise. They freeze and microwave very well, good for neighbours dropping by.

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Note: This is adapted very lightly from “Gjærbakst på alle bord”, 1987. A classic! One of my first cookbooks when I left home for university. The original recipe calls for 50 grammes fresh yeast and much faster rises. Also, the recipe uses 180 grammes sugar in the dough, which I reduced. I should have used a bit more butter in the filling, but the dough itself was good.

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“Solrose” bread for terrace drinks

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It’s Easter Monday, andre påskedag in Norway and Pasquetta here in Rome (little Easter), which is often marked locally with a picnic. Lovely sunny day, with a cool breeze, nice on a state holiday, and it’s been very quiet here in Garbatella. Our neighbours upstairs  just got married this weekend, and they have invited the condominium up for celebratory drinks on the rooftop terrace this afternoon. This bread is our contribution.

“Solrose” bread (makes two)

25 grammes fresh yeast
500 ml milk
50 grammes olive oil
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
50 grammes hulled sunflower seeds (plus some for top)
700 grammes plain wheat flour
50 grammes wholewheat flour

Milk for brushing just before baking (or a beaten egg)
Handful of hulled sunflower seeds

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk. Add everything, fold with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is smooth and you feel a bit of spring. Cover the bowl (plastic shower cap works well) and let it rest for an hour so, until it doubles. It depends how cool your kitchen is. Once doubled: tip the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and divide it in two. This will make two loaves (very handy when  you are heading to drinks at 1830, then dinner elsewhere at 1930…… This also transports well in cake carrier.)

For each half of dough: get your parchment paper ready, and form a round ball for the centre, then roll out a smooth sausage of dough to make a circle around the ball. Maybe 30 cm or so? Pinch the edges together so it is smooth.

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Then cut the ring every two cm or so, to get nice deep slashes right through to the parchment. Cover each sheet with a tea towel and leave to rest another 40 minutes or so, it will rise nicely (above is just rolled out). Heat oven to 220C  (210C if doing one tray at a time). Right before baking, brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with more sunflower seeds.

Bake about 15-20 minutes, until nicely golden. I swapped the trays over after ten minutes to get a more even bake, I might try 210C and fan assist next time.

Note: This is adapted very lightly from “Gjærbakst på alle bord”, 1987. A classic! One of my first cookbooks when I left home for university. The original recipe calls for 50 grammes fresh yeast and much faster rises. You could also use 12.5 grammes dry yeast. Also, the recipe uses margarine rather than oil, and only 700 grammes white flour, but I thought the dough looked a bit wet so I added the wholewheat flour. Normally I’d brush the dough with beaten egg, for more shine, but loaf #2  is coming along for a dinner tonight where someone is allergic to eggs, so I used milk for both.

Tomorrow is my last day in Rome before heading back to Accra: coffee with neighbours,  go see the plumber, have pizza with friends, and in between, the last round of food shopping this time. Cheese, more cheese, celery, and zucchini. With limited fridge space there, there will be more longlife items on this trip: flour, crackers, olives, passata….. it will be shared and enjoyed!

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