School holidays – yay!! Long lies, chilling out, late breakfasts, hours of lounging ahead. Oh sorry, forgot, we have kids, scrap all that – we can but dream. Hope you all have some nice plans though even if it’s only doing the same stuff but in a different location – we all deserve a bit of a break from the everyday.
So, we know how we spend Easter – rolling eggs, eating chocolate, separating scrapping siblings, but how do the Swedish do it? Well, like most things they do it with great enthusiasm, style and a dash of witchcraft.
It would be a rare Easter gathering that didn’t involve some egg painting. This ancient tradition brings the happy colours of spring to the Swede’s Easter table and the eggs are then gathered together and used as a centerpiece. They are often later hung from trees or birch twigs with brightly coloured feathers and some are maybe scattered round the garden as an Easter hunt.
A traditional Easter lunch is likely to consist of different varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon and Jansson’s Temptation (potato, onion and pickled anchovies baked in cream). The table is often laid like a traditional smörgåsbord. Spiced schnapps is also a feature of the Easter table. At dinner, people eat roast lamb with potato gratin and asparagus, or some other suitable side dish.
Just like here in the UK, Swedish Easter is filled with candy, chocolates, and toffee, delivered to the kids in large brightly colored påskägg – eggshells of cardboard or plastic – the bigger, the better. Every year Swedish kids are high as kites from skärtorsdag until late on påskafton, when the påskägg has been emptied.
My favourite Swedish tradition is the Easter Witches. On skärtorsdag, Maundy Thursday, modern Swedish children dress up as påskkärringar (Easter hags) paint their faces, carry a broom and knock on neighbor’s doors for treats, much like American children do at Halloween.
The tradition is said to come from the old belief that witches would fly to a German mountain the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. On their way back, Swedes would light fires to scare them away, a practice honored today by the bonfires and fireworks across the land in the days leading up to Sunday.
So, there you have a not in any way complete, potted history of how our own #superswede Charlotte would be spending her holidays if she weren’t here. Have a lovely one wherever you are…
So week one past just like that and we have done NOTHING!
Maybe that is a good thing! Going home was well needed after the last few weeks in the UK. As a Swede and a small business owner I took this whole brexit thing very hard. So going home has given me lots of hope and also some ideas how our business will survive this (well hopefully).
Anyhow! Normally we go to Sweden for a few weeks since I really like the girls to work on their Swedish, I am really bad at speaking Swedish to them…oh well we are getting there! So the first two weeks it is just the girls and myself then Richard will join us as well. We have booked in to see a few of our amazing suppliers as well as lovely friends when he arrives which will be great. But at the moment we are visiting lovely local independent shops full of designs I personally love, exploring the forest behind my mums house and eating way too much.
Sadly the weather is absolutely rubbish here, I can not remember the last time I have seen showers like this, it is cold, wet, dark, rather dull to be honest (it’s very disappointing). We try to go out for some walks when the worst is over and have been out picking blueberries and wild raspberries in the forest. Buying blueberries in the shop in UK, well for me they are not blueberries, these ones we pick our self, we got purple fingers (Lovisa was purple all around her mouth) and they are really colourful and tasty. Also found lots of raspberries so once again I need to concur my fear of snakes and also tics… oh man I hate those tics. Found one or two on my mums dog and cats…yuck! Even though they are covered in lots of protecting stuff they still get them, guess it does not help there are lots of roe deer here and they are covered in those vicious little horrid unnecessary blood sucking creatures.
Otherwise we just chill, which I think has been very good for Stina, she is tired emotionally after her first year at school.
So hanging with cousins, visiting family, playing with new friends, me having tons of Fika (yes all my clothing is a bit tighter than a week ago) and so on is rather relaxing. Oh yes and Pizza, no there is no better Pizza in the world than SWEDISH Pizza. Any Swede who says anything else is not a true Swede (I am serious)!
Kebab Pizza (Heaven)
Thumbs up for Pizza
I hope you are having a nice time as well and that the weather is better than here (however at this moment I am sitting in the sun on the veranda, hope this will last at least one day).
Don’t forget I have wonderful staff who all is looking after both shops while we are at home. At the moment I am not placing any orders but the shops are still full of lovely designs and we are awaiting in a few deliveries so please pop in and find a nice treat or gift. I have notice that the amazing Tulipop is flying out at the moment, surely not back to school already…
And our clearance sale is still going at Spektakulär. Still lots of lovely designs. Please do note that these are designs that will not be reordered again so pop in and grab a bargain.
Right Christmas is over and it is almost Shrove Tuesday. Here in the UK it is also Pancake day but at home it is all about SEMLA. Seven Tuesdays before Easter but in Sweden you can sadly find a semla in a local bakery or cafe just after Christmas. You can eat them just as they are or in a “hetvägg” which is not my favourite. You basically make it all soft and gooey in warm milk (NO THANK YOU). I am not a massive fan of semla (gosh I can not believe I just said that), I mean I like them but one or five is enough during this time a year and I do not need them every day which is I admit a bit un-Swedish because the right thing to do is to eat a Semla a day from Shrove Tuesday until Easter! In my home town Alingsås, (Alingsås is also known as the one and only Cafe town, every second shop is a cafe) there is a competition who makes the best. The bun needs to be fluffy, perfect filling of almond paste and then the cream needs to be perfectly whipped, and for goodness sake make sure there is plenty of cream. Oh gosh the locals are hard critics and I think everyone turns in to a little bit of a Semla expert! You should see some of the comments they make in the local newspaper (eye-rolling).
Anyway here in Edinburgh is a little group of Swedish mums (and dads), most of us have a other half who is non-Swedish and this group was created to meet up and sing Swedish songs with our bilingual children. Now these days it is more about us grown-ups gossiping while the kids trash someone’s home. Our turn today and look at me I have baked Semlor and here is a recipe for you!
I like to say thank you to M who also made the bun big style and brought with her as well as L who made wonderful classic chocolate balls. I made mini Semla (no photo before gone). They turned out perfectly fine, I find the mini ones a better size really. Not too much and if still room just have another one (ten is too many).
Here is a recipe for you of the MINISEMLOR. I hope you will make it and please do enjoy it with a cuppa, or like us coffee.
Ingredients: Makes about 40 Mini Semlor
1 dl = 100 ml
50 gram butter (as always good quality and salted)
2.5 dl milk (always go for full fat)
25 gram fresh yeast (I get mine from Sainsbury’s, ask in the bakery)
0.75 dl caster sugar
1 tsp grounded cardamom
8-9 dl plain flour (480-540 grams)
1 egg (as eggwash before baking in oven)
200 grams almond paste (see below how to make your own unless you just been to Sweden and bought some)
1 dl milk or cream
3 dl whipping cream
if you like cognac or some sort of liquor (mix it with the cream)
icing sugar as dusting
Melt butter in pan, add milk and heat to 37 degress (finger warm). Make sure not to hot then the yeast dies, if too cold it takes a bit longer before proving.
Crumb up the fresh yeast in one large bowl, add milk butter mix and make sure the yeast dissolves.
Add the grounded cardamon, sugar, egg and most of the plain flour.
Work the dough hard until it feels light and ready (like bread)
Let prove for 30 min (make sure no draft)
Work the dough and make about 40 even round balls. They are small so don’t panic.
Put on a baking paper covered tray.
Let prove again for 30 min (do not cheat)
Heat up oven while the dough is proving to 250 degress.
Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 5-7 min, make sure they have a nice colour
Cut a lid in each bun and take out some of the inner bun to use for the almond paste filling.
Almond paste mix, grate almond paste, dash of milk or cream (the 1 dl) and the bun inners, create a nice smooth mix and put back inside bun
Whisk whipping cream and put on top of paste.
Lid on top and add some icing sugar on if you like
How to make Almond Paste
250 grams un-blanched almonds
2.5 dl caster sugar
Part boil and peel the almonds, grind to fine powder in blender, add the sugar and mix for 5-7 min until nice smooth and warm paste.
You know this might sound hard work but it really is not. Not worse than making bread or bake anything really. It is just the proving that might take a bit of time. Why not give it a go and impress your friends and if you have a Swedish friend well this will be a massive and grateful surprise and I bet you they will be delighted. Everyone likes a Semla!
Oh it is getting closer… a great day is upon us! Cinnamon Bun Day or as we say in Sweden: Kanelbullens dag! 4th October is the day and yes of course this weekend we will bake at home. Here are some facts by The Local that might be worth knowing.
Buns are super tasty and should be eaten warm (just out of the oven kind of fresh) and with a glass of cold full fat milk!
So if you have never made them, well what’s stopping you? Why not give them a go this weekend. There are million of recipes out there, I personally prefer them super sticky and sweet with a hint of cardamom. Some people struggle to find fresh yeast (I have baked with dry yeast once…did not like it) however most local shops if they have a bakery will be able to sell you fresh yeast. My local Sainsbury’s do, I just head to the bakery smile and say please and 50g cost me about 20p. Well worth the money.
So here is a the basic standard recipe you can find on the packet of plain flour in Sweden. Now in Sweden we use dl which is decilitre. Apparently according to google 1 dl is 100 ml (well is that not convenient).
For about 40 buns
150 g soft butter (use real butter)
5 dl milk (use full fat)
50 g fresh yeast
1 dl caster sugar
0.5 tsp salt (I personally use salted butter and leave this out)
2 tsp ground cardamon (optional)
800 g plain flour
150 g soft butter (honestly I think we are talking at least a packet 250 g when we bake)
1 dl caster sugar (come on, these are just guidelines)
2 tsbp ground cinnamon (well a little bit more does not hurt)
1 beaten egg for glazing at the very end
Right so this is how you do it.
First warm the milk to 37 degrees Celsius (finger warm) too hot the yeast will die, too cold it will not prove as it should
Crumb the yeast in to a large bowl, pour the warm milk on top and stir, let the yeast dissolve. Add small lumps of butter, sugar and cardamom.
Add flour but save about 1 dl while working the dough on a baking table later (ok I had never sifted anything in my life before I move to the UK so you do not have to do that at all).
Work the dough hard for 5 min in a machine or 10 min by hand, until it feel right (hmm, it needs to be airy yet firm)
Let it prove, covered of course and out of draft for about 30 min. So make this dough then do your school run or enjoy a coffee or whatever you like.
Work the dough on a baking table easy for a few minutes, divide it in to 4 parts. Use a rolling pin and make a rectangle shape. Not too thin but definitely not too fat. Thinner rather than fatter.
Butter the rectangle (do not be shy). Mix the sugar and the cinnamon and spread over (so this is how it looked like at our home last time with did it)
Roll them up as you roll up a swiss roll and cut in to 10 pieces . Put them either in large paper cases or on a tray covered in baking paper. Cover with towel and let prove for approx 40 min (do not cheat on the prove time).
Oven on 225 – 250 degrees (I have no idea gas, but google tells me gas mark 8)
Beat the egg and glaze the bun, we put a very typical sugar on top called pearl sugar and no I can not find it here. I buy it when I am home in Sweden, it will be fine without!
Buns in the middle of the oven for about 5 – 10 min.
Cool on a wire rack
Enjoy, eat about 20 and either share or freeze the rest (always good to have a spare at home for some fika time)
Now you can use what ever filling you like, nutella, marzipan, jam…go for it!
If you leave them for a couple of days and they go a bit dry, pop them in the oven for a few min with a little lump of butter on top. And I like to defrost them in the oven with a little lump of butter. Mum had this trick back in the day before she stopped eating sugar. She took a couple out of the freezer and then put them on top of the coffee maker while brewing the coffee and a lovely smell of coffee and cinnamon spread in the house (we all have our tricks).
Now you better eat a bun this weekend! If you have an big blue shop nearby they have some “fake” buns (as my friend called them) in their food bit. They taste fine, never as good as homemade but I would not turn them down. And of course if you are local to Edinburgh you have Peter’s Yard, they are a bit here and there now in town. Lovely lovely bakes and the coffee is rather good too. Enjoy!
It is finally time for me and the girls to head home for a long summer holiday. Fingers crossed that the weather will be great (kind of doubt it) and we can go swimming in the lakes and enjoy a lot of ice creams and BBQ’s.
Don’t you worry Zuzanna, Ruth and Anna (Richard one day as well) will look after you. Shop is open as usual all summer.
And if you by any chance missed it, our annual clearance sale has started! Do not miss it!! Full of great bargains including lots of beautiful cushion covers and runners by Swedish Linum, super stylish table top by Danish MENU and lots lots more.
Stina, Lovisa and myself are heading home to spend time with my family and friends and hopefully suck in as much Swedish as possible. I feel like the summer holidays is so fantastic for my girls language (and mine, ten years abroad does things to your own language). We get to spend time with our family, and get bombarded with Swedish and for someone like me who struggles so much keeping up the Swedish with the girls, this is great. I just really need to make sure I won’t swap back into English as soon as Richard arrives (like I did last year). Even if Stina might answer her cousins in English at least she understands what they say.
As soon as Richard arrives we are off to meet suppliers and do a little bit of Christmas shopping, well of course we will see lots of other great designs as well. So got a lot of FIKA booked in (yay). Shall do my best in take lots of photos. Please do follow us on Facebook or Instagram. I seem to be much better at posting there than here on the blog. Then we are back early August, Stina will spend a few nights at her grandparents in Aberdeen then it is time for her to start P1 (aaarrrgggghhhhhh WHAT!!!!!!!) more about that later.
Have a fabulous July, please do pop in to the shop for your gifts (wedding, house warming, new baby, birthday, surprise, anything at all) or go on, treat yourself with some Scandi designs! Or just for a little chat. Have fun and enjoy this summer!!!
Well time to remind you all that this Saturday 6th June is the Swedish National Day. So on Saturday there will be a few offers on some very Swedish designs in the shop (YAY). If you like to know more about why and how to celebrate the Swedish National day, well why not visit Sweden.se for more info.
Myself, well I am heading to Hemma for a traditional Fika. Then I am looking forward to a visit to the Canongate Kirk for a Swedish Summer service and then for all the grown-ups there will be a Swedish National Day party at Hemma and yes Richard and I will both join since grandparents are in town to entertain their granddaughters. This is very rare for us, to be out for an evening and very rare that we both can enjoy a glass of something since normally at least one of us is driving. Bring on Saturday!!!
Yes I have been home, for a whole week…all by myself! And when I left to come back here I felt like I could easily stay for another week, month, year or forever even! Sadly a week in Sweden was maybe not the best. I mean I loved it so much I did not wanted to come back here at all. It hit me hard how much I miss Sweden and my family and my friends. I have a great family here in Scotland and great friends as well so am a bit mixed feelings. I guess it is life!
Unfortunately I did go home due to my beloved farmor (father’s mother) passing away. Even though it was excepted and I did kind of say good bye to her last summer I was hoping I would get one more summer with her. She was not well, so was almost 91 and she had decided it was time for her to go. So it was a journey home for me to join my family and say good bye and tell her we love her and hope she will finally meet up with farfar (father’s father) again. No I am not religious, I just have a little hope that they will be together again. My sister had arranged a massive flower arrangement from us grandchildren and she had written on the card, give farfar our love. That made me cry and warm to my heart. The two of them was a proper team and I do wish there is some kind of chance for them to meet up again.
I decided to stay in Sweden for a week and spend time with my family and friends and to do a few business things as well. And yes I left the girls back in Scotland, but they were being so spoilt by Richard and their farmor and farfar so they did not really miss me at all! Hmmm, well I will missed them terribly and I did look forward to cuddles and snotty kisses and lots of stories when I got back. This time of year there are no direct flights between Gothenburg and Edinburgh so I did the Copenhagen detour, flights and then train. Instead of the direct train from the airport I took the Oresrund train across the bridge to Malmo and then the fast train to Gothenburg.
Got 20 min at Malmo Station and yes a massive bag of Swedish sweets! Felt a bit sick to be honest. Pick n mix is massive in Sweden, this picture is from last year when we went to our local food shop and Stina started to jump just looking at all sweets. I hardly eat sweets in the UK, but happily gobble it down while home, and not just a little, but happily so much you even feel your teeth is protesting.
Having the freedom of being home without any children and not a lot booked in made me a bit restless, so I took long walks and also dragged mums dog with me. I love the forest but since I am a bookworm I have read too many crime novels so obviously I expect dead bodies everywhere and I have a terrible fear of snakes so avoid going out in the forest summertime, but after a few goes, I felt relaxed enough to just stop and listen to the birds and the wind in the high trees and just peace and quiet. You sometimes forget how much peace the nature can bring, sure is good for your soul (and guess what I did not come across any dead bodies, not even a bloody finger).
Also the opportunity to jump in a car and go wherever you like. Thank you mum for lending me your car. Went to my sister one evening and headed out to her summerhouse (almost every Swede has a summerhouse, I guess it is due to our long summer holidays and the urge to leave your every day routine and just go away and relax) and put up a few rolls of wallpaper. Not done it for a long time so that was good and nice chat too.
I even managed to view a house, a house I walk by almost every day when I am home, mum live across the field in that red house you see on this image. Location wise it was very handy and yes I was curious. And it is even more handy to have a step dad who is a joiner to come along for the viewing. Lovely house at a good price but sadly needed new roof and a new foundation so good bye affordable house. Shame, would have been great as a little summer house for us. Not a big house but perfect for a small family, instead of us spending a few very long weeks at my mums every summer (think we all get a little bit tired of each other).
Now back in the UK, I think Stina was more interested in the gifts I brought with me home than me (hmm). To sum up this journey, full of emotions, fresh air and family love. When the girls was in bed on Thursday night, Richard and I was sitting in the sofa chatting, and I feel asleep in the middle of a sentence. Now a week or so later I am starting to recover and sometimes a routine life is what you need to think clearly and logical again and feel less emotional. Am really delighted to be back at the shop. Do love our little shop and it looks so inviting at the moment.
I am extremely grateful for Zuzanna and Ruth. I can go away from the shop and not feel worried at all. I can even go away for a month and they will look after it which is fantastic and relaxing. Thank you ladies, the shop looks loved!!!