Thursday, 10 March 2011

Cinnamon rolls - Kanelsnegl

This week has been tough: hard work and unrelenting. I've been desperately seeking sublimity. And I found it hiding within the pages of my new Scandinavian cookbook and in the experience of baking my first batch of authentic cinnamon rolls.

Everyone knows that cinnamon rolls are at the heart of the Danish pastry scene. What is less widely known is that in Danish they are called kanelsnegl (cinnamon snails, commonly abbreviated to just snegl when ordering across the counter!!) and the cinnamon is in the filling, not the pastry dough (the dough contains ground cardamon).

I made cinnamon 'buns' at Christmas time using a recipe from my favourite food blog 101 cookbooks. However, that one was for 'buns' not 'rolls'(!) and called for dry active yeast, whereas this time I used the real thing!!

Some of my earliest memories of going food shopping with my mother included going to the 'deli' counter in our local supermarket (in my hometown of Middlesbrough in the north east of England!) and her asking for fresh yeast. It didn't come pre-packaged and couldn't be found in the big refrigerators, she had to go to the counter and ask for it and it was measured out for her. Apart from those early memories, I have never seen fresh yeast in the stores (I did once try to buy it at my local Waitrose in London, without any luck).

Here in Copenhagen, breadmaking seems to be a regular pastime. I will write more about this one day but my initial observations are that (i) every supermarket has a wide selection of breadmaking flours, (ii) nearly every basket at the checkout contains a bag of breadmaking flour and (iii) fresh yeast is for sale in 50g packets in the refrigerators next to the butter!!

Just buying the fresh yeast made this baking experience feel more authentic and immediately took me back to memories of my mother's baking, in itself a wonderful tonic. The recipe was from The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann and they worked a treat. The dough is proved twice and so this isn't a recipe to be rushed but in fact it was perfect for me: I love recipes that mean I can take breaks to give the two small children tugging at my apron strings some of my undivided attention. Dissolving fresh yeast in warm milk, mixing soft butter with cinnamon and sugar and painting the rolls with glaze - each step so beautiful and comforting.

Sublimity has been restored. I now have home made pastries for breakfast tomorrow and I have even managed to freeze some uncooked rolls for those mornings when I need a little something to go with my morning coffee.

By the way, HUGE thanks to my photography mentor over at Myriad Me for her hot tips on making up photo collages. Oh what fun...

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