20 x 30cmbaking tin(different sized tins means baking time will simply vary, so adjust accordingly)
Turn the oven to 170C (160 fan).
Melt the butter and chocolate and set aside – you can do this either in a water bath or in the microwave.
Mix eggs and sugar (no need to over whisk it much as you don’t want the brownie to rise). Ensure the chocolate has cooled down a bit and then mix into the egg mix.
Sift the flour, cocoa, vanilla and salt into the bowl and fold with a spatula until smooth – take care again not to over whisk. Fold in half of the Polly sweets.
Line the baking tray with baking paper and pour the mixture in. Add the rest of the Polly treats on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean at the side – the middle can still be gooey (but it should not wobble when you shake the tin). Remove from oven, leave to cool. Cut into squares then serve.
Please note the baking time will always vary depending on the tin you use, the thickness of your cake and the oven. Brownies are quite forgiving if you cook them on lower heat for a longer time – keep checking the edges and just make sure you don’t over bake it. Its nicer with a slightly under baked brownie rather than over baked, so take it out a bit before rather than give it that extra few minutes.
It’s competition time! Just answer the question below correctly and win semlor (*terms apply) and eternal glory for your office.
Q: How many bakery made semlor are sold in Sweden every year?
a.) 6 millions
b.) 9 millions
c.) 45 millions
Submit your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 26th January at noon to be in with a chance. Too hard? Check our previous post with Semlor-facts here.
Prize: A tray of Semlor for your office (Central London postcodes)
For winners outside London the prize will be a kit to make your own.
*Terms & rules: Answer to email@example.com before Tuesday 26th January 2016 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?) or have a make your own semlor-kit from our webshop instead. We will not be held 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.
Winter in Scandinavia is serious stuff. It lasts a long time, and the weather is somewhere on a scale of bone chillingly cold (but snowy and bright) to regular freezing cold, wet and dark. It may sound grim, but there are ways of dealing with it. Here are 6 ways of tackling a dark cold winter like a true Scandi.
Embrace the cold and dark. Sure, we all like to have a moan about how horrible the weather is, but it doesn’t actually change anything. Instead, enjoy the fact that you have a great excuse to stay inside. Light all your candles, a fire if you have one, and sit down for a catch-up with your friends or family. If it’s a Friday, call it Fredagsmys/Fredagskos and eat Cheez Doodles and watch telly. You can be sociable and trendy another season – cheesy crumbles are all the rage this time of year.
Be outside and enjoy the little light there is. Fresh air and daylight is good for you even when it is cold and stormy, and it means you have a legitimate excuse to stay in as soon as it gets dark. Preferable cuddled up on the sofa under a blanket – as above. Doodles optional.
Watch winter sports. No, not the Boxing Day match. In Scandinavia we watch grown men in lycra ski around a track, sometimes with a gun on their back (because skiing plus shooting makes..perfect sense). Watching them sprint uphill with frozen bogies will also make you feel very sporty so you don’t have to worry too much about not having been outside.
Eat semlor and drink coffee. Semlor are Swedish marzipan cream buns that will make you feel happy inside, and perhaps help you build up some.. ahem.. natural insulation. Diet food it is not. The coffee should be dark and strong like a winter’s night..or something.
Wear knits. In colder climates, nothing beats wool. That thing the British call ‘Christmas jumper’? Standard everyday winter attire in Scandinavia. Well, maybe not in ever-stylish Denmark and South Sweden – but in less trendy Norway, definitely. You simply cannot ‘gå på tur’ (go hiking) without one.
Take it easy. Go with your natural inclination to slow down a bit during this time of year. Take your time to enjoy an extra cup of coffee, take a slow walk as opposed to a hefty run, and enjoy staying in more than you do during summer. Before you know it the sun is back, guilt tripping you into being out all day every day attending barbecues and drinking outside-beers whilst cursing your inability to tan.
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).
*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.
Recipe and photo from the ScandiKitchen cookbook, image credit: Pete Cassidy for Ryland Peters Small
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. Previous versions include both ‘semmelwrap’ – an attempt to modernize and make the classic semla less messy – and last year’s picture perfect princess semla.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are into Nordic Noir, chances are you’ll quite like Arne Dahl, the Swedish crime series. Season 2 is about to be available to buy on DVD now on amazon and at all major retailers – a collection of great edge-of-your-seat telly hours worth staying in for.
We’ve got copies of Season 2 to give away, courtesy of Arrow Films. To be in with a chance of winning a complete season 2 DVD, just answer this easy question: