I love Scandinavian cooking and what's not to like about a country like Sweden that has a specific word - 'fika' - that means to meet up for a chat over coffee and a baked treat?!
Combine with the Danish concept of 'hygge' - the feeling of inner warmth and contentment you get when spending time with loved ones - then you have the representation of a lifestyle I'm all on board with!
There are lots of delicious fika recipes, with the kanelbullar (cinnamon bun) probably being the most iconic, but the recipe below is for a 'Spandau Pastry', named after the borough in Berlin (I haven't found out why yet), but they are as Danish as they come to Danish pastries.
First of all, making a batch of Danish pastry, which can be used for lots of different types of pastries. This a yeast-leavened, enriched laminated pastry made by folding in layers of butter in to the dough, similar to making puff pastry.
Danish Pastry Dough
150ml whole milk
2.5 tsp dried yeast
50g caster sugar
50g softened butter
350g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg plus 1 yolk
225g softened butter
25 g plain flour
1. Heat the milk to ~37c and mix in the yeast. Cover with cling film leave in a warm place for it to activate.
2. Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the sugar and butter and mix, followed by the flour and salt.
3. Mix for approximately 5 mins, scraping down the sides if necessary. Cover with clingfilm and leave to double in size for a couple of hours.
4. Tip the dough out on to a floured surface, knock back and knead until stretchy and workable. Roll the dough out to a square of 35cm x 35cm.
5. For the filling, mix the butter and flour together, place between two sheets of baking paper and bash it out to a square of 25cm x 25cm. The butter should be quite firm, so put it in the fridge if necessary. Lay the square of butter at 45 degrees to the dough.
6. Now the folding bit. This process may seem a little daunting at first, but once you've practised a few times, you'll find it a lot more straightforward. Fold the dough corners over the butter until it is completely enclosed. Roll out to a rectangle measuring 30 x 50cm, all the while making sure that no butter escapes. Fold the two short ends so that meet in the middle, then fold over again (so that you have four layers). The rectangle will be approximately 30 x 15cm.
7. Place on a baking tray and pop in the fridge for 30 mins. Roll out to a rectangle along the long side so that it measures 50 x 15cm. Make a 3-fold, visually dividing the dough in to three parts - fold 1/3 of the dough over the centre, then the remaining 1/3 over the first - you now have nine layers of butter. Refrigerate and repeat the process so that you have 27 layers of butter. Refrigerate again before using, or freeze for later.
For the filling I made a quick almond paste:
200g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
100g icing sugar
1tsp almond extract
1 medium egg white
Simply mix all together in a food processor then chill for about an hour. !00g is needed for this recipe, so wrap up the rest and keep in the fridge for up to a 5 days or freeze.
Remonce Almond Paste
This is the quintessential filling for Danish pastries.
100g softened butter
100g icing sugar
Grate the marzipan and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
Another version of remonce used in cinnamon buns can be made with 125g softened butter, 250g soft dark sugar and 2 tbsp of cinnamon.
Chopped Toasted Hazelnuts
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190c fan. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to a thickness of 0.75cm and cut into 12 x 12cm squares
2. Place a tsp of the remonce filling in the centre of each square and fold the corners on the pastry in to meet in the middle. Place on to a baking tray, cover and allow to rise for 30 mins.
3. Brush with egg wash and place a dollop of jam in the centre. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and cook for about 15 mins until golden.
4. Once cooled, munch away or you can add some icing sugar frosting swirls