When you are done, send us a picture and we will put the best ones up on Instagram and Facebook and the blog during December.
We have four categories:
Adult – Beautiful: This is the main award. The most beautiful house you can make from a very basic kit of gingerbread house.
Adult – Super Creative. This is the crazy house – like the house eaten by dragons, murder scenes, brothels, discos – whatever you can do to pimp up your house to silly standards with great use of imagination.
Child – up to 7 years old. It’s okay that your Mum and Dad help out, but here we do want to see real kids efforts. We know what seven year olds can do with a ginger bread kit – we want to see kids being allowed to unleash creativity. It’s fine to add Lego men and other toys to the mix or make a gingerbread house for your favourite dolls.
Young person 8-16 – We want to see your imagination run wild here. Make the house your own.
THIS YEAR’S PRIZES:
First prize this year in category ‘beautiful’ is £50 online OR in-store voucher for ScandiKitchen, a signed copy of our new baking book ‘Fika & Hygge’ and one of our fancy new mugs.
Adult – Creative – A hamper full of goodies and treats plus a signed baking book.
Children under 7: Sweeties. And more Sweeties. So many sweeties your Mum will be quite annoyed with us all the way through till January.
Young person 8-16 prize: Sweets. And more Sweets. So many sweeties your Mum will be quite annoyed with us and also a little jealous that it is all for you.
All entries MUST be made from a basic Gingerbread House kit. We stock the one from Anna’s, which is the preferred one, but if you use the IKEA version that is also fine (they are similar in shape and size). Basically, the basic shape of the house must be the same so we can see just how creative you can be with a pre-fab kit. Any entries not made from the similar in size and shape to the Ikea and Anna’s kit will not be accepted, sorry.
When you submit photos, you need to state what category you are entering into.
Only one entry per person
If more than one person submits the same entry, the prize will be shared.
No alternative prize, no cash prizes, no exchanges.
Yes, we talk a lot about Fika & Hygge – especially now with our new book officially out. It is a baking book, with recipes from across Scandinavia. From small bakes and biscuits, to celebration cakes and elaborate buns there’s something there for any occasion, small or large – certain to add to the feeling of hygge. In addition, the beautiful pictures makes us all long for winter in Scandinavia (even the non-Scandis!) with crinkly white snow, lots and lots of candles, knitted jumpers and fika-time inside.
Here are a few of the ScandiKitchen staff’s favourite recipes from the book (we were lucky enough to do a lot of cake-testing for this one! All in the name of creating the best baking book possible).
That Banana Cake –Therese
‘That banana cake’ is the banana cake we serve in our cafe. Wonderfully moist and full of banana flavour, with a light frosting that perfectly complements the dense cake. Worth hunting down brown bananas for.
Sarah Bernard – Biskvier – Martina
Little delectable morsels of chocolate, chocolate cream and a marzipanny base. Unbeatable combination and great with a cup of coffee, or as a simple dessert with a scoop of good quality vanilly ice cream. Super rich – but I somehow manage to squeeze in at least three of these. They take a little time to put together, but the result is worth it!
Gingerbread with Lingonberry – Roxanne
Soft spiced gingerbread cake layered with cream flavoured with fresh tart lingonberries and a hint of sweetness – just delicious. And very pretty too.
Have the book? Do let us know if you try any of the recipes – we’d love to hear about it.
Waffle-Day & Useful Info About Scandinavian Waffles
Waffles are a big thing in Scandinavia. Thin and heart-shaped they come with a boatload of strong opinions on how to eat them, when to eat them and what to put on them. There are as many opinions as there are recipes – as many recipes as there are waffle-lovers.
One thing we all agree on is how we feel about them. Waffles are – it seems – a truly nostalgic thing. Something we all remember from our childhoods. From a fika with the family, a well deserved break in the (not-so) strenuous Sunday hike, a treat in between matches in the annual week-long summer football tournament, or from any given Wednesday at your lovely, lovely work-place (where waffles often appear on Wednesdays for some unknown reason).
You may have some questions about waffles and why we waffle (pardon the pun?) on so much about them. That’s ok. Your waffle-fears may now be put to rest – we’re here to educate you about Scandinavian waffles.
1. What is a Scandinavian waffle and how is it different from a Belgian Waffle?
A Scandinavian waffle differs from the Belgian in many ways, most notably is the shape. Scandinavian waffles are thinner, and typically consist of 4-5 heart shapes joint in a ring, as opposed to the rectangular Belgian version. Heart-shaped = even lovelier, of course. The batter is also different – Scandinavian waffles tend to have a less sweet batter, often with a sour component such as sour cream. They should be crispy and slightly buttery with a slightly sweet flavour.
2. Why do we celebrate the Waffle-day on the 25th of March?
Good question! Waffle-day is originally a Swedish thing, and the reason it is on the 25th of March is that the Swedish word for Waffle day – Våffeldagen – sounds very similar to ‘Vårfrudagen’ (Our lady’s day), which is the day Jesus was ‘conceived’. 25th of March = 9 months before Christmas Day. ‘But of course!’, the Swedes thought, ‘we need a dedicated waffle day but it would be confusing to have two days with such a similar sounding name. Let’s combine the two and make it one super-holiday where we can celebrate the beginning of Jesus AND eat waffles.’
(Did we mention how much we love the Swedes?) There you have it – a phonetic phenomenon is the reason for waffle-day being when it is. And some lovely Swedish logic.
3. What can I put on my waffle?
In Scandinavia, most people choose sweet toppings, including a variety of jams, whipped cream or fresh fruit and berries in summer. Waffles are not necessarily limited to sweet toppings though – try creme fraiche and smoked salmon for a lovely savoury waffle.
Here are 5 other ways to eat Scandinavian waffles;
Waffle with brown cheese – melting, tangy/sweet brown cheese on a mildly sweet, waffle hot from the griddle. It is a beautiful thing. Top with raspberry jam for a sweeter finish. A Norwegian speciality. No, you can’t swap the jam. Some people also eat waffles with brown cheese and kaviar (yep – this stuff).
Hot-dog in waffle. Yep, you read that right. A steamed wiener-sausage wrapped in a sweet waffle. It’s a staple in Moss (in the middle of nowhere) and the Norwegian equivalent to a certain Gordon Ramsay is rumoured to be the man behind it, when he as a young boy worked in his uncle’s hot dog stand. Sounds odd, tastes delicious. Slightly sweet waffle paired with a savoury, meaty sausage. Yum!
Waffle with whipped cream and wild strawberries. This indulgence screams summer. Tiny, sweet, intensely flavoured wild strawberries – called smultron in Swedish with a ligthly sweetened whipped cream. Just..pure tastebud-waffle-bliss. In lack of smultron you can sub your favourite fresh seasonal fruit or berries or a good quality jam at a pinch.
Waffle with butter. Yours truly – Martina, in this case – has the following method of ensuring the perfect amount of butter on the waffle; ‘Think of the little diamond dents in the waffles as windows. The goal of buttering it is to light up each window. In other words, fill each dent with lovely salted butter. This is tooth-butter meet waffle. A sprinkling of sugar if you so desire – then tuck in.
Waffle with jam and sour cream. Your favourite sweet jam and a dollop of thick sour cream. Delicious. You will have more than one – just give in already. Napkin at the ready!
Now we want to hear your waffle-memories.
Perhaps you spent a summer frying waffles day in and day out to feed the hordes of hungry tween-agers playing football?
Or you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share? A favourite topping? Do let us know – we’d love to learn more.
Every January, the excitement builds because our customers know it is almost time for ‘Semlor’ buns. Scandinavians celebrate the start of Lent in different ways, but all of us like to eat as many of these addictive treats as physically possible (rumour has it there are no calories in Semlor if you eat them with your eyes closed).
13 g dried yeast or 25 g fresh yeast *(see below)
250 ml whole milk, heated to 36–37°C (97–98°F)
80 g butter, melted and cooled slightly
40 g caster sugar
300–400 g white strong flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 egg, lightly beaten
100 g marzipan paste
good dollop of custard or Crème Pâtissière
500 ml whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
icing sugar, to dust
piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle
*If using fresh yeast, add it to the finger-warm milk and mix until dissolved. Then pour it into the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
If using dried yeast, sprinkle the yeast granules into the finger-warm milk and whisk together. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to activate and become frothy and bubbly. Pour into the bowl of a food mixer with a dough hook and stir in the melted butter. Add the sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add half the beaten egg (reserve the other half for brushing before baking).
Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated and then start to add more of the flour, bit by bit, until you have a dough that is only a little bit sticky. Take care not to add too much flour. Knead the dough for at least 5 minutes in the mixer. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place until it has doubled in size – about 30–40 minutes.
Turn the dough out to a floured surface. Knead again for a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. You want a firmer but not dry dough. Cut the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces. Place, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet. Leave to rise for 25–30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
Brush each bun with the beaten egg and bake for 8–10 minutes or until baked through – keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and cover the buns with a lightly damp dish towel immediately – this will prevent them from forming a crust.
When they have cooled completely, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1.5 cm/1⁄2 in. from the top. Scoop out about one-third of the inside of the bun and place this in a separate bowl. Mix it with the marzipan paste until it forms a very sticky mass – add a dollop of custard or Crème Pâtissière at this point to help it along. You want a spoonable, even mixture. Spoon the filling back into the buns, equally divided.
Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar until stiff, then use a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle to pipe cream on all the buns. Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust lightly with icing sugar.
Semlor are serious business in Sweden. Every year, usually starting as soon as Christmas is over and done with, semlor make their appearance in bakeries across Sweden. In Scandinavia we do not eat pancakes on pancake day. We eat big fat buns instead. Here are 12 things you need to know about the bun that makes Swedes go a little loopy.
Semlor are eaten all over Scandinavia (but excessively in Sweden), Semlor are served up to and especially on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). This year, the big day is 9th February.
A semla is a cardamom flavoured yeast bun stuffed with marzipan, vanilla and whipped cream. We also call them fat buns, to fatten you up before Lent. Although we’ll continue to eat them all the way until Easter. It’s a whole year until we next get a chance, you know.
Semlor are strictly seasonal. Nobody ever makes them at any other time of the year except when it is The Season. This means not before 1st jan and not after Easter. Yes, we know a few Swedish shops have started doing it end of December, but those shops will be dealt with in due course by Semlor Polisen.
It’s Semla (singular) and Semlor (plural)
Semlor, and their season, is very serious business. It used to be law in Sweden when you could sell Semlor.
How do you eat it? That is the big question. Do you lick the lid, eat the lid first or use the lid to scoop out the cream? Or do you just take a big bite? Or perhaps you use a fork? The possibilities are many – we can only suggest you try them all and find your favourite.
Hetvägg – Afficinadoes eat Semlor in a bowl with hot milk poured over. This is called hetvägg.
Sweden once had a King Fredrick who died from eating too many Semlor. He ate 14 in one sitting, then died from severe indigestion. Okay, he also had a banquet of food before hand, but still… It was probably the semlor that did it (from Sweden.se).
45 million Bakery made semlor are sold in Sweden each year. This does not include homemade ones or supermarket ones. This is just bakeries. On Fat Tuesday alone, bakeries sell over 6 million. Note: 9 million people live in Sweden.
Semlor a la mode –Despite their tradition and history, semlor, too get caught up in trends. Last year was the year of the ‘semmelwrap’ – an attempt to modernize and make the classic semla less messy. It also makes it easier to eat on the go so you can eat even more semlor. This year it’s all about the ginger biscuit semla. No, we haven’t tried it – please report if you do.
Regional variations – In Norway, the buns are called fastelavnsboller and the buns are filled with thick whipped cream and raspberry jam – and dusted with plenty of icing sugar. In Finland, they are calledlaskiaispulla and are filled with jam – often bilberry. In Denmark, the dough is slightly different and they are filled with custard (also called fastelavnsboller).
So, what’s the damage? One bun is around 500 calories. Yes, now you know. If you eat it in the dark, calories don’t count. And if you have two in short succession it doesn’t count, either. In any case you will probably be so full after having one that you’ll sleep through dinner – they are prone to bring on serious cases of paltkoma (food coma). Buns for dinner? Yes please.
Get your Semla fix at the café daily from now until Easter. If you need larger amounts for Fat Tuesday, please pre-order email@example.com
1 sachet ‘Kagecreme’ crème patisserie (approx. 500ml crème patisserie) – get it HERE
How to: Mix the content of sachet with 500ml whole milk. Whisk for 30-40 seconds, then leave to set for 15 minutes.
You can also use homemade cold crème patisserie for this instead, but we cheated a bit – and this powder is really good quality and is bake-safe.
300ml whipping cream
4-5 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
150g icing sugar
1 tsp cocoa
Edible decorations of choice
Make the dough:
In a mixer / food processor, add butter and flour and blitz a few times, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined and smooth. Fold together and wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Turn on oven to 180C.
Cut the dough in two pieces.
Medaljer – roll out and cut 18 round circles with the 7 cm cutter. Place on a lined baking tray and then bake 5-7 mins in the warm oven until slightly golden (taking care not to over bake).
Meanwhile, roll out the remaining dough for the Cremelinser. Use flour if it is a bit sticky.
Cut circles to line the base of the 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray – the dough should go to the top line, neatly. Add a good heaped teaspoon of crème patisserie to each ‘Linser’. Roll the remaining dough out flat, then cut the smaller 5cm circles. Carefully top each Linser with the pastry circle and press down gently around the edges to close.
Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until done taking care not to allow the Liner to crack open and the custard to seep out (but if it does a bit, don’t worry, it will sink again when cold).
To assemble the Medaljer:
Make the strawberry whipped cream:
With a blender, blend 6-7 strawberries (or mash them very thoroughly with a fork). Whip the whipping cream with a tbsp. icing sugar, and add 3-4 tbs strawberry puree. Allow stiff peaks to form.
Lay out 9 baked circles on a tray. Add ½ tsp jam to the base of each circle, then a tsp of crème patisserie in the middle. Using a piping bag with a wide cream nozzle, pipe cream in a circle around the base of 9 of the baked circles. Keep cold.
Place the remaining 9 circles on the table. Mix the icing sugar and 1tsp cocoa powder with a few tbsp. hot water until you have a smooth icing – not too runny. If the icing gets too runny, add more icing sugar – you want the consistency so it will not spill over the edges.
Carefully add a dollop of icing to each circle and top with a few decorations. Carefully place the lids onto the ‘Medaljer’ and cream.
A perfect selection of real Danish cakes to serve with your afternoon coffee.
Want to be the most popular person in your office for the day? Then treat your colleagues to a whole tray of these delicious Lent buns called Semlor.
We’ve got a tray to give away to one lucky person – worth £45! To be in with a chance to win, answer this super easy question:
Semlor buns are traditionally eaten on which special day?
a) Shrove Tuesday
b) Christmas Eve
c) Easter Sunday
Answer to firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday 27th January 2015 at noon. Winner will be picked at random from correct entries. One only prize available, no alternative. Winner must pick up the tray of buns at the cafe (or arrange pick up). No delivery of buns. Winner must pre book required date for buns with the cafe. If the winner is not London based, they can give the prize to a mate (yes, that’s fair, don’t you think?). We will not be help responsible for the calorie intake if you eat them all yourself instead of sharing. Probably not a great idea, really, didn’t you ever hear about King Adolphe Fredrick? Well, look him up. One tray of semlor is 15 buns. Usual competition rules apply.
Ohhh, those delicious buns of delight and loveliness. It’s the season and we have a great recipe.
Lent buns (Semla for singular, Semlor for plural) are buns eaten leading up to and during Lent in Scandinavia. In Sweden the are most popular and bakeries start selling these already in January. Fat Tuesday – Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras – is the day when we eat at least one and maybe more of these buns. We basically fatten up before Lent.
You will never ever find Semlor buns sold outside the season – it is just not done. So, take advantage of the season now that runs until Easter and have a go at making these seriously rich buns at home.
Let us tell you that the little dollop of custard or creme patisserie makes all the difference. Thats just our little trick and hint for an extra delicious bun.
If using mixer, set it up with the dough hook attachment. Melt the butter and add the milk, ensuring a lukewarm temperature of around 37-38ºC. Add the fresh yeast and stir until dissolved.
Add sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add the ½ egg (preserve the other half for brushing before baking).
Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated and then start to add more of the flour, bit by bit, until you have a dough that is only a little bit sticky. Take care not to add too much flour: you will get dry buns. Knead the dough for at least five minutes in the mixer, longer by hand. Leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place until doubled in size (30-40 min).
Turn the dough out to a floured surface. Knead again for a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Take care that the balls are completely round and uniform in size. Place on baking tray with good spacing between buns. Leave to rise for another 25-30 minutes.
Gently brush each bun with the remainder of the egg wash and bake in a hot oven (200ºC) for about 8-10 minutes or until baked through – keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and cover the tray with a lightly damp tea towel immediately – this will prevent the buns from forming a crust.
When the buns have cooled down completely, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1½ cm from the top. Scoop out about ⅓ of the inside of the bun and place crumbs in a separate bowl.
Mix the almond paste with the crumb until it forms a very sticky mass –add a dash of milk, custard or crème pâtisserie at this point to help it along. You want a spoonable, even mixture. Spoon the filling back into the buns, equally divided. Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar until stiff and use a piping bag to pipe cream on all the buns’ tops. Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust with icing sugar.
This cake is possibly one of the most famous Fika cakes in all of Sweden. Every café has a version of Kladdkaka (which literally means ‘Sticky Cake’). Yes, it is a bit like an underbaked chocolate cake – and that is exactly what makes it so very good.
Kladdkaka is the best seller at the café. This is our Auntie Inga’s recipe.
It’s an easy cake to make – but watch the baking: too little and it’s a runny mess. Too much and it’s a stodgy dry cake. Watch it closely during the last few minutes of baking time.