Tuesday, 20 December 2011


In Norway it is a tradition to bake seven different kinds of cakes and cookies before Christmas. I must admit I haven't made them all, but so far we have four varieties in our cookie jars. It varies slightly from year to year what kinds we want to make, but the Norwegian donuts called "Smultringer" are a must. There are after all few things that taste as good as fresh donuts straight from the pan.

I have used the same recipe for years, and it is always successful.

2 eggs
150 grams of sugar
100 ml sour cream
150 ml cream
400 grams flour
1 teaspoon cardamom
3 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt

Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy and mix in sour cream and cream. Stir the flour gently into the mix. The dough should be left cold for a few hours, preferably overnight in the refrigerator, before being rolled out to about one centimeter thickness.
We deep fry them in our wide Le Creuset sauté pan which is absolutely ideal for this sort of work.

You are supposed to fry them in lard, but that just smells too intense for me. I prefer coconut fat but you can use any kind of shortening.

We will probably need to make another batch of these gorgeous cakes this Christmas, because they tend to disappear quickly. Once when we invited some friends over to a Christmas workshop with baking, I fried more than 150 rings. It was a huge pile, and I thought that we would surely have donuts until Easter. But before the night was through, there was not a single donut left. The guests had munched up every single one of them

 Our ​​poodle boy was appointed the ring tester this year. A task he seemed to appreciate a lot.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Better butter

In these "low-carb" times fat no longer appears to be public enemy number one. Seems to me that people everywhere are "dieting" while stuffing themselves with bacon, cream and butter. Ah well, I'm not so sure that is such a good idea, but as far as butter is concerned I'll gladly admit I like it a lot.I am not a big fan of supermarket butter though. It usually tastes so bland. However, we get so used to it that we think it is supposed to taste like that, don't we? When I do get served old fashioned proper butter, it's like a revelation - so this is what butter really tastes like!

Well, since we are entering the festive season, I think we should serve the real thing on our Christmas table.  Only the best will do at this time of the year. However, if you want to taste real butter, you've got to churn it yourself. You'll be surprised how quick and easy it is and how little effort it will take to impress your friends when you serve the best butter they have ever tasted.

You can make butter from either sour cream or regular cream, needless to say the full fat variety. Sour cream gives a fuller, slightly tangy flavour.

Personally, I use half and half. About a cup of each is a good meassure.

You can use any sort of kitchen appliance that will whip cream, or if you want to burn off some calories you can even just use a jar and shake it vigourously for a while. I use a standard Tefal food prosessor.
First, the cream will turn into a thick white mass.

Then, after a couple of minutes, it separates and the yellow butter emerges.

The butter and the milk have separated and it is almost finished.

Try to gather it all together with a spatula.

Then comes the hands-on work. Knead the lump of butter to get out as much milk as you can. You will not be able to get it all out, so it will need to be washed in cold water.

Have a bowl of ice water standing by and drop the butter in. Because the water is icy cold, the butter will not dissolve in the water butwill repell it. Change the water at least once and make sure there is no more milk to wash out.

Lightly dry the butter with a paper towel, then put it back in the emptied and dried bowl. The butter will now have a smooth and lovely texture that is easy to work with.

Now it's time to add a bit of flavour. A teaspoon of salt is really all it needs. Use a spoon to knead the salt in, and taste it to see if you have added sufficient salt or if you need to add a bit more.

Find a suitable container and voila you're done! We had this empty jar that had once contained Stilton cheese and it fitted the bill perfectly.
By the way, make sure you keep the butter at room temperature to keep it spreadable. Don't worry about it going off. It will disappear so quickly that it won't have the chance.

If you like, you can of course add more flavour. You can use all sorts, depending on what you are going to serve it with.
Some chopped parsley and a spoonfull of lemon juice will be the perfect accompaniment for fish.

Some grated lemon zest and a bit of white pepper will jazz it up even more.

The buttermilk should not be wasted. You can drink it if you like, just make sure you strain it properly first, or else it will have little bits of fat and butter floating in it. We prefer to use it for baking.

This was added to the breadmix along with the leftovers from yesterday's mashed potatoes. The breadmix is about a kilo of plain flour, 200 grams of rye, 200 grams of oats and a handfull each of linseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, a teaspoon of salt and finally a spoonful of honey to feed the yeast. Bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius. This will make a very tasty and rich bread.

Now, what could be better than home churned butter melting on a slice of freshly baked bread still hot from the oven? Perhaps a corncob sprinkled with crunchy sea salt and a good dollop of that golden butter. Mmmm, don't tell me you're not tempted.