I loved staying with my Granny, It meant hours of freedom charging around the woods and fields and plenty of cake. Wednesdays were both the best and worst days, because Wednesday was Bridge day. I’d have to sit on the sofa, silently, as they played hand after hand of cards, best friends calling each other “Partner” whilst I wrigglingly read a book. But there was always the coffee break. Although it was Grandpa who was Swedish, my Granny embraced Fika, wholeheartedly, particularly the seven options of goodies to eat.
Fika or coffee time is a very important part of Swedish Life. It’s not just about sitting drinking coffee and eating cake, but about a state of mind, taking time out, relaxing and chatting with your friends or family. Fika can happen at any time of day and also several times a day. The important thing is to wind down whether you’re taking 10 minutes or two hours. When my Granny and Granpa first married, Fika would have involved seven kinds of homemade cakes, biscuits.and open sandwiches. A mountain of work for each social occasion. By the time I was reluctantly sitting on the sofa, she was buying most of her fika, but there was still a selection of seven treats to choose from as all the ladies stopped play for Fika and I was allowed to join in. This orange cardamom bread would be the centre piece of my Fika spread, gently spiced with cardamom and a fragrant orange and almond filling.
Rolled sweet breads and buns are very Scandinavian, I’ve cooked this one traditionally as a wreath, which would be perfect for christmas but you can bake it as a log. You still need to make the scissor cuts in order to have separate buns and for it to bake and caramelise evenly.
The cardamom speckled dough for the wreath is quite soft and has to be kneaded until smooth, like any bread dough. Once smooth form into a ball and place into a bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film and set aside to prove for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Once it has proved, turn out of the bowl and knead until the air is knocked out (knock Back). Roll into a rectangle, roughly 48 x 37 cms. (19 x 14 1/2 inches) you don’t have to be exact but it does need to be a rectangle rather than a square.
Once the dough is rolled out dab spoonfuls of the filling all over the dough, this makes it easier to spread evenly. Spread the filling evenly.
Start rolling the dough from the long side into a tight swiss roll, at this point you can transfer it to a greased baking sheet, cut it in half if it’s too long. Or form the dough into a ring using a little beaten egg to seal the edges to join the 2 ends of the wreath.
Using large scissors, a knife will be very difficult, snip deep cuts into the wreath at even distances all around. Then bend every other ‘bun’ to the outside of the ring and the ‘buns’ in between to the inside of the ring until it looks like the photo. The dough will stretch a little, you don’t need to pull the ‘buns’ hard. If you are leaving the dough in a log, snip the dough in the same way and alternately pull the buns left and right.
Brush the wreath or logs with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake.
Orange And Cardamom Wreath
makes approximately 18
- For the dough
- 395g plain flour
- 7g dry yeast or 25g fresh yeast
- 265 ml full fat milk at room temp
- 100g butter
- 30g caster sugar
- 1tsp ground cardamom
- ½ beaten egg (the remainder will be used to glaze before baking)
- For the filling
- 70g soft butter
- 85g caster sugar
- 155g ground almonds
- 2 egg yolks
- zest of 2 large oranges about 3 tbsp
- ½ beaten egg and a scattering of flaked almonds to decorate
- Sift the flour into a large bowl
- Mix the yeast with a little of the milk
- Melt the butter and pour into the remainder of the milk and stir add the yeast to this wet mixture
- Add the sugar and cardamom to the flour and stir to combine
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the half egg and ½ of the liquid ingredients, gradually start to combine the flour into the liquid. As it starts to form a dough add the remainder of the liquid and mix to form the dough .
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, replace into a large bowl and cover with a tea towel or clingfilm until doubled in size, about 1 hour
- Meanwhile, for the filling
- Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and light in colour.
- Stir in the ground almonds, egg yolks and orange zest until the paste is well mixed, set aside.
- Turn the dough out of the bowl and knock back (knock the air out of the dough).
- Roll out the dough to approximately 48cms by 37cms (19ins. by 14ins). It doesn't have to be exact.
- Blob the filling over the rectangle and then spread evenly, getting as close to the corners as you can. The dough will stretch and move as you spread so try to keep the shape.
- From the long side roll the dough into a tight swiss roll type roll. At this point either cut in half and bake as 2 logs or form into a circle using some of the remaining beaten egg to seal the ends together.
- Transfer to a baking sheet. Using kitchen scissors make cuts evenly around the wreath or along the length of the log. Pull every other slice towards the centre of the ring and the alternate ones towards the outer of the ring.
- Leave the ring to prove for about 45mins, covered with a clean tea towel.
- Heat the oven 200c, 180c fan assisted, gas mark 6, 400f.
- Once proved brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
- Bake in the oven for 25 mins until golden brown.
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