One of the best things I’ve found in keeping this blog is my friendship with Petra Lovelock, whom I met after I requested an interview for a guest recipe post. Petra runs Nordic Kitchen, a Scandinavian cookery school that pops up each month at Lewes Community Kitchen.
“I have a lot of regulars,” she tells me, and given Lewes High Street shops are full of Marimekko mugs, I guess it’s not surprising that the locals also like to learn how to bake, pickle and picnic like the Scandis. One of the things I learn at the Sugar & Spice class Petra has invited me along to, is how clued-up my classmate Cecily already seems to be about Scandinavian baking. She enjoys Signe Johansen‘s Scandilicious and already seems familiar with the cardamom buns Petra is teaching us to make. Yet again, it seems, I’m late to the party.
Petra’s cardamom and cinnamon buns are a traditional Finnish tea time treat made from sweet brioche-type dough flavoured with a hefty 2 tbsp of cardamom seeds. Scandinavian baking is typified by the use of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla. In the UK we most often use whole cardamom pods in savoury dishes and ground cardamom can be hard to get hold of. Petra says suppliers like Scandi Kitchen sell it, along with other ingredients used in Nordic baking like pearl and vanilla sugar.
We are shown how to shape the spiced dough into swirled cardamom buns and a traditional plait, then we use the same dough made up with a little less flour to make apricot and cinnamon doughnuts. Petra believes in “no fuss” cooking. The idea that making your own doughnuts could be fuss-free I find quite amusing, but the process is more straightforward than I thought, and the fact that this dough can be made up in advance in a big batch and used in all these different ways is economical. The pre-baked dough also freezes very well, says Petra, and warming it up in the oven for a few minutes from frozen makes for a tasty breakfast.
Petra then shows us how to make cardamom shortbread, which is quite different from the Scots variety in that it uses egg. Rolled into a sausage, the shortbread is coated in cardamom sugar and cut exceptionally thin before baking, perfect to serve with dessert. To finish we are shown how to make ‘Tiger Cake’ which really is a no-brainer, made with equal parts egg, flour and sugar. Cecily looks at the runny sponge mix doubtfully, but sure enough it bounces up in the oven creating a dense, moist sponge that would work well with all sorts of flavourings and really couldn’t be simpler. I come away feeling as though my baking armoury has been enriched, and lucky to have a friend who makes such a mean smoked salmon canapé. Cecily smiles and says “it’s been the best evening ever”.
Petra’s next Nordic Kitchen class is on Thursday 30th April 2015 from 6.30 – 9.30pm
“We will prepare & enjoy a three course meal inspired by spring. Pea shoot dip with fresh bread, dill baked trout with sides and an incredible rhubarb and rye tart.”
£30 per person, includes welcome nibbles, dinner & drinks
At the time of writing this class has 3 spaces available
Book by e-mail or telephone 07875 202804