In his native Denmark Claus Meyer is a foodie celebrity; co-founder of the world-famous Noma, frontman for the New Nordic food movement and a slew of other enterprises from tv shows to fruit farms. His latest book focuses on the Danish bread that he produces at his eponymous bakeries across Copenhagen and in New York. Meyer apprenticed himself to the local bakery when he was just seven years old – by the time he was at college he had started his own bread business supplying Copenhagen restaurants with his own loaves.
This is a seriously in-depth book and Meyer takes the reader through the step by step process for four key doughs – wheat, whole-grain, rye and enriched – before sharing some of his best-loved recipes. This is a perfect book for anyone wanting to seriously learn how to make utterly delicious real bread and Danish pastries. As a taster, we are sharing one of Meyer’s most popular recipes. Happy baking.
This recipe for Cinnamon Swirls was given to me by Morten Schakenda, a Norwegian from the bakery in Lom. After sampling these wonderful swirls at a food conference, the taste of cinnamon is forever linked in my mind with Schakenda’s swirls. My numerous attempts at recreating these didn’t work out, and so finally, we had to take a trip into the Norwegian wilderness to bring his recipe back to Meyer’s Bakeries.
Approximately 12 swirls
500 g cold whole milk
50 g fresh organic baking yeast
1 kg plain flour
150 g sugar
10 g salt
15 g ground cardamom
150 g salted butter, cold
BUTTER AND CINNAMON FILLING
1 egg, beaten
See below for information on how to mix the ingredients, knead the dough and shape it into Cinnamon Swirls. Let the Cinnamon Swirls rise for 1–2 hours as described below. Brush the swirls with beaten egg, then bake the swirls at 200°C, Gas Mark 6 for approximately 10–15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Try using coarse dark brown sugar instead of white sugar to give your swirls a deeper flavour.
If you’re making a huge portion of Cinnamon Swirls for a festive occasion, you can knead and shape the swirls the day before and then leave them in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to bake, remove them from the fridge and leave to rise to completion at room temperature before putting them in the oven. If you want to be prepared even further ahead of the festivities or simply want to stock up, you can also freeze unbaked Cinnamon Swirls.
How to make the dough and shape the cinnamon swirls:
- Pour the milk into the bowl of a food stand mixer and add the fresh yeast.
- Stir well until the yeast dissolves completely.
- Mix in the egg and then add all the dry ingredients. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and knead on low speed for approximately 8 minutes, or until the dough is shiny and firm.
- Add lumps of cold butter into the bowl.
- Mix again on low speed for approximately 8 minutes, or until the butter is completely absorbed and the dough is shiny and firm once again.
- Sprinkle your work surface generously with flour and tip the dough out onto it. Roll it into a 60 x 30-cm rectangle.
- Spread the butter filling evenly across the entire surface of the dough.
- Starting from one of the short ends, fold one-third of the dough across the middle. Make three layers by folding the remaining one-third over the folded third.
- Roll the dough into a 30-cm square about 1.5 cm thick.
- Cut the square into strips about 2.5 cm wide and 30 cm long.
- Take one strip and place it in front of you.
- Hold on to one end with one hand while using your other to roll or twist the other end of the strip, working towards yourself. You need to twist the dough 6 or 7 times in total.
- Pick up the twirled strip of dough with both hands and twist it twice around the index and middle finger on one hand, ensuring a little still hangs loose.
- Place the overhanging piece of dough (the end) across both swirls and place it between your index and middle finger.
- Pull your fingers back, thus pulling the end into the swirl and fastening it there.
- Arrange the finished cinnamon swirls with plenty of space between them on two nonstick baking sheets.
LET THE DOUGH REST
Resting time lets the dough absorb the last drops of fluid and ‘take time out’ as its gluten strands have been pulled and stretched during kneading, and they need a rest. You’ll witness a slight contraction in the dough – a bit like pulling on an elastic band – if you start shaping it straightaway and don’t leave it time to rest.
Seal the dough in clingfilm or put it in a plastic container and cover it with a lid or clingfilm. Leave in the fridge or on the kitchen table.
It should be left for no more than 30 minutes to 1 hour on the kitchen table but remain overnight in the fridge. Be aware that after shaping, cold dough needs a longer rising time than warm dough.
SHAPING AND RISING YOUR ENRICHED DOUGH
Once your dough is rested, it’s time to make Cinnamon Swirls. You should only have the minimum amount of work to do once the dough is rested.
If the dough contracts, it may be stressed because you haven’t let it rest for long enough. If that’s the case, simply cover it up and leave to rest for another 5 minutes before continuing. Shape your dough and place it on a greased baking sheet (or one that’s lined with nonstick baking paper) and let it rise. As the dough rises, it also relaxes, which allows the yeast to work.
While rising, you should keep an eye on the size of the pastries because they should increase by almost 100 per cent. Rising times will vary depending on the temperature of the dough and the room. It’s important to keep the dough covered while rising to stop its surface drying out and then cracking. If you can’t avoid a dry surface all together, you can always brush your pastry with some beaten egg.
Meyer’s Bakery: Bread and baking in the Nordic Kitchen by Claus Meyer, is published by Mitchell Beazley, £25 www.octopusbooks.co.uk