Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Ode to Snúður

My love for cinnamon rolls has been well documented. So you can imagine my happy dance when I found extra special and extremely fluffy and enormous cinnamon roll type pastries in Iceland. Apparently they are called Snúður (no, I cannot correctly pronounce that - anyone want to help?) and they are delicious. 

Below is my little (ehem, gigantic) cinnamon-y and cardamom-y friend from Akureyri. What follows afterwards is my attempt at recreating that doughy goodness - snúður-like cinnamon rolls perfect for brunch or decadent coffee break. Hope you enjoy!

Maybe not the most logistically practical road trip snack, but it was SO SO GOOD.

My Snúður-like creations


For the dough:
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 3 tsps dry yeast
  • 50ml sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon powder
  • 420g self-raising flour
For the filling:
  • 70g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

For the icing:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 60 ml milk
  • 200g brown sugar


Warm the milk over low/medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the sugar and yeast, then set aside for 5 minutes.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and butter. Add this mixture slowly to the wet mixture, then pour the entire lot into a bread machine and set to "dough". You can, of course, also choose to make this the traditional way by kneading the dough then covering and leaving in a warm place to rise for at least 60 minutes or roughly doubled in size. I have trouble with room temperature consistency in the tiny London kitchen, so jumped at the chance to use Mom's more accurate bread machine (so fluffy!!!). 

After the dough has doubled in size (60-90 minutes), flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out half of the risen dough into a roughly rectangular shape about 1 cm thick. Then thoroughly blend the filling ingredients - unsalted butter, sugar, and cinnamon - together and spread half the mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a filling free frame of about 1 cm all around. 

Now carefully roll the dough up as tightly as you can. Let's say side A of the dough rectangle is longer than side B. You will roll side B. So you should be rolling more rather than less - got it?

Using a very sharp clean knife, cut the rolled up dough log into 3 cm wide pieces and place each one swirly side up on a lightly greased baking tray, leaving a little space between each piece. I used both cake tins and cookie sheets/baking trays for my Snúður. With baking trays you can space the cinnamon rolls further apart and they will have defined edges. If you chose cake tins, the rolls will smush together, leaving you with softer, pull apart edges. The choice is yours!

Repeat the rolling and filling spreading steps with the remaining half of dough and filling.

Cover the cake tins/cookie sheets/baking trays with a cloth and leave the dough rolls in a warm place for another hour for the second (and final) proofing. The Snúður should nearly double in size again!

Finally preheat your oven to 200C and bake the Snúður for 7-8 minutes. When finished they should be lightly golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two before tucking in.

While the Snúður are baking, you can prepare (if you'd like) the icing. Melt the butter in small saucepan, then add the brown sugar and milk, stirring constantly. The icing should begin to thicken after about 2 minutes. Once the icing has reached a smooth consistency, take the saucepan off the heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool. Then spoon on top of the Snúður and enjoy!

These spiced spirals of doughy deliciousness are also excellent (and slightly less sweet) without the icing and/or served alongside Skyr or Smari (a Skyr-like alternative you can find in some US grocery stores).

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Iceland Part II: South Coast and Jökulsárlón

We picked up our car the morning after landing in Iceland (had an excellent experience renting a Ford Escape from Go Iceland, but more on that later) and headed out of the Reykjanes Peninsula and along the southern coast. Our first stop on what we began calling our Waterfall Tour of Iceland - Seljalandsfoss, which you can walk behind! Yes, tour buses stop here, but they don't stay for long, so you can wait them out easily. Definitely take the time to walk the slippery path behind the waterfall and to explore the area around it. Be prepared to get wet, and definitely wrap your camera gear in an all weather cover. 

All adventure-y with the rainbow behind Seljalandsfoss

The fellow and the waterfall

Exploring the path away from Seljalandsfoss

Our roadside game of "Spot the Waterfall" was endlessly successful too:

I did a lot of research and planning for this trip (more on that later, with some links I found super useful), and became moderately obsessed with getting to see Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. However, I knew it was quite a haul along the southern coast and was hesitant because I didn't want it to create any sort of time pressure. But when we arrived in Vik with several hours of sunlight remaining (hooray for spring/summer daylight hours in Iceland!), we decided to just go for it. And I'm so glad we did! Our four hour round trip through the constantly changing landscape was beautiful, and the glacier lagoon was breathtakingly surreal.

We actually spotted the glacier first, and to say I was excited would have been an understatement. Like a kid with snow on Christmas, people. I'll let the pictures convince you though.

Oh, you know, just part of a glacier. Floating around. As they do.

We arrived around 8pm, well after the tours and cafe had closed up shop for the evening, but there was plenty of daylight left to explore the shoreline of the lagoon when only a few other people were there too.

We also watched arctic sparrows catching fish for their dinner - there must have been a nesting site on the other side of the lagoon, because they kept flying overhead with tiny fish in their beaks. Drove back to Vik exhausted and thrilled, making it back just as the last bit of light checked out for the night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Iceland Adventure Part I

One year ago today, I was on a plane to Reykjavik (with the fellow, oh la la) for a week long adventure in Iceland. Wish I was there now! But since that's not in the cards for the moment, I'll be reminiscing and sharing pictures and tips for those of you planning your own Icelandic adventure. Hope you enjoy!

As you probably already suspect, Iceland is amazingly beautiful like WHOA.

Our first stop was the Blue Lagoon, which is probably already on your list, unless you think it's too touristy, in which case I urge you to reconsider your views. I am so glad we started our week in Iceland with a refreshingly relaxing day floating around the Blue Lagoon. From landing at Reykjavik, you can be there within two hours, and it was such a lovely way to jump straight into holiday mode. Yes, there are other thermal spas in Iceland, and they are absolutely worth checking out as well. (I totally have a list ready for next time.) We splurged a little bit and went for the ticket package that included fluffy robes in which we lunched like champions in the Lava Restaurant (so, so good!). After a hectic few weeks, the day spent soaking here was the perfect way to start our adventure. I imagine it would also be excellent as a last day in Iceland activity. Pro tip: you can get a sunburn here. One of us learned this the hard way. Cough, cough, not me, cough.

Another fun tip: if you want photos from your visit, but are hesitant to bring your DSLR into the waters (a warning on the website says the steam "corrodes cameras nicely"), consider bringing along a waterproof disposable camera. The photo below is from a little Kodak that worked really well for capturing the vibe of the day. Feeling fancier? Photojojo has an iPhone Super Suit that is waterproof and provides cushion for little falls - not that any of us have ever been guilty of dropping our phones...

Stay at the Northern Lights Inn. It is within view of and very easy walking distance of the Blue Lagoon, although it is not the hotel directly next to the lagoon. Dinner in their restaurant was lovely (get the fish, whatever it is!) and the rooms were clean and modern. The Northern Lights Inn also very kindly arranged airport transfers for us, so we were able to go an extra day sans rental car.

View from the Northern Lights Inn

We were there in May, so we didn't see any Aurora Borealis action, but there is the potential to spot the Northern Lights from the inn at appropriate times of year. (It's far enough away from city lights.) I wouldn't say no to another visit *insert wanderlusty puppy dog eyes here*...

Part II of the Icelandic adventure coming tomorrow!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

London Coffee Festival

I almost missed Brick Lane's ode to the black ichor of life that is the London Coffee Festival. Luckily, I was able to snag two tickets to the brunch session (aren't you all trendy with a "brunch" rather than "morning" session, London Coffee Festival?) last Sunday. What follows is a photographic diary of my trip into caffeine, my cannonball into coffee. To say I was buzzing by the end of the three hours in the Old Truman Brewery would be a slight understatement.. 

The morning started off with a bang thanks to Square Mile Coffee. They were offering flights of three distinct coffees poured out by a friendly fellow giving tasting notes. Sidenote: how have I not seen this before? I feel like coffee flights should be standard fare in East London at least. Who's on board with me?

Our next stop was the Make Decent Coffee lounge, where baristas from ThreeSixty coffee demonstrated the various methods and benefits of pour over vs Chemex vs French Press vs (the frightening to the uninitiated/clumsy) Aeropress. I picked up some useful tips for my morning cafetiere. Did you know scooping the floating grounds before you press the plunger down cuts down any bitterness?

I also picked up a Peanut Butter doughnut from the tempting Crosstown Doughnuts booth. It was a very fluffy doughnut, and tasty - I maybe had to stop myself from picking up more from the Piccadilly Circus location later in the week in order to avoid becoming a doughnut monster. A little word of advice to Crosstown though - warn people with North American accents that the jam is blackcurrant. Please. 

I really enjoyed the variety of cold brew coffee at the festival. The selection on offer at the Goodbeans booth had to be my favorite though - very very smooth. The extremely cute Alice-in-Wonderland-esque bottles didn't hurt either. Bonus points for presentation and friendly staff!

The London Coffee Festival was also the place for some quirkier takes on coffee, such as the coffee soap and granita (a joint effort with Gelupo) on offer from cold brew maker Minor Figures.

There were also lots of freshly pressed juices and tasty treats on offer. Sandwiches from St John's? Check. Chocolate tastings? Check. All the baked goods your coffee could possibly want as a companion? Check.

Mounds of baked treats from Cakesmiths
Overall, a pleasantly different East London brunch experience (of sorts). We also walked away with kicky totes and a guide to London coffee shops, so expect to see some coffee shop reviews in the near future! I'm off to brew some decent coffee now. A very happy and caffeinated Sunday to you all!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Hoping everyone enjoyed their St. Patrick's Day festivities and that you've all made a full recovery by now! Did you make anything particularly tasty, have a festive pint or two of Guinness, or wear a lot of green? I was shocked SHOCKED to learn from the Irish fellow that pinching non-green-wearing folk on March 17th was/is unheard of in Ireland. What gives, America? I want those 14 anxious days of my school experience back please and thank you!

We were disappointingly un-festive here this year, so I'm posting a few pictures taken up in Donegal a couple summers back. Did you miss out on Tuesday too and now need something extra delicious to bake this weekend? Maybe these will help:

This chocolate Guinness cake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery. I haven't tried it yet, but I've baked practically everything in this Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and have yet to be disappointed.

Or maybe you want to go SUPER decadent with a Bailey's cheesecake recipe from Nigella?

Looking for something healthier? How about this beautiful raw avocado supercake from Natasha Corrett's new recipe book Honestly Healthy Cleanse? This one is high on my avocado-loving-self's to make (and devour!) list...

I'll also be back with regular posts and a new look in April. It's something I've been working on for awhile (too many projects!), and I hope you'll all check back!