20 September 2006


I started cooking in Sweden, then I moved to Germany and cooked there (without an oven, just two hobs), now I'm in the UK and still cooking.

So I have some things to say on ingredients.


Ohe 13th December is the day of St Lucia in Sweden and is celebrated with traditional sweet saffron buns (recipe to follow). So my first 13th December in the UK, I thought I'd treat some friends to some Swedish traditions. I buy the ingredients, I mix them, the dough doesn't rise in any significant way, I bake anyway, the dough doesn't proof, I bake anyway and burn the skinny looking things. In the bin they go. I go and buy a second lot of ingredients... guess what, same thing happens. I tell my Mum she sends "proper" yeast from Sweden. A third lot of saffron buns also hits the bin. My poor friends were polite and tried them, before I threw them away.

After letting my despair and frustration ebb out over the next couple of years, I read up on the flour situation in the excellent recipe book that comes with the bread machine I got for Christmas.

It turns out there are different types of flour, depending on where the wheat grew. Wheat grown in colder climates contains more gluten and so makes strong flour - good for yeast doughs. Wheat grown in warmer climates makes plain flour - good for soda doughs.

There is no such thing as strong and plain flour in Sweden, it's all strong, and so all three times I tried to make the saffron buns I had bought plain flour - thus they didn't rise.


This is pretty much the same everywhere, and it comes usually as slightly salted or unsalted variety. What bothers me is that I'm never sure which one to use in baking. Particularly when making something sweet - what's the chance of tasting salt in it if I use the slightly salted butter? Mostly I use butter for the bread that I make in the bread machine, so I get the unsalted one, but when I need it for flavour, it doesn't taste as nice as the slightly salted one. The tricky bit is to resist putting it on your toast.


I haven't been able to find fresh yeast for baking in the UK and I really miss that, I think it works so much better, particularly for saffron buns and the like. They do fresh yeast in Sweden in 50 g packets, which is what most recipes require.

So if anyone knows where fresh yeast can be found, please let me know.

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