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STOCKHOLM

Stockholm hosts world’s first sourdough hotel

Have you considered skipping a holiday in fear of what may become of your sourdough? Never fear, you could always check it in to Stockholm's sourdough hotel while you’re away, Lina Sennevall reports.

Stockholm hosts world's first sourdough hotel

The Urban Deli bakery on Södermalm in Stockholm offers the novel service to its customers for 200 Swedish kronor ($30) a week with a promise to give increasingly popular dough the love and care it requires.

“We were just sat talking and thought of the idea of a nursery for sourdoughs. Then we took it further and came up with the hotel idea. It was just for fun really, we didn’t think it was going to get this big,” says Åsa Johansson at Urban Deli.

The bakery has even been involved in a collaboration with Josefin Vargö, a student at the University College of Arts and Crafts and Design (Konstfack) who started a sourdough archive for her master project.

Even though the hotel hasn’t attracted a huge number of paying customers in its first few months of operation, the bakery has developed own archive of more than 35 jars of sourdough that have been given to them by Vargö but also by their customers.

“We have one that is 130-years-old and one is all the way from America. They’ve all been labelled with the name of the maker, the date it was made and how much their owners think their dough is worth,” Johansson says.

Urban Deli uses the sourdough starters in the archive to bake bread that is being sold in the bakery under the name of the dough’s maker.

Sourdough is created by mixing flour and hot water and leaving it untill little bubbles form, making a natural yeast containing a lactobacillus culture.

As long as this starter culture is fed flour and water weekly, it can stay at room temperature indefinitely.

A sourdough starter can also be dried and brought back to life by mixing it with water and flour.

“The bacteria in sourdough are really good for you. You get a tastier, more beautiful bread with a long life,” Johansson says.

Sourdough has become very popular in Sweden in the last couple of years and sourdough blogs, sourdough bakeries, pizzerias and cafés have popped up in the bigger cities.

“We think the reason it has become so popular and a ‘status symbol’ to bake sourdough bread, is because it’s a lot more difficult than baking other bread so it has become a prestige thing,” says Viktor and Linn, owners of a sourdough bakery in Stockholm with the same name.

Josefin Vargö agrees with Viktor and Linn and says it takes experience, planning and time to get started and used to baking with sourdough.

Åsa Johansson says the hotel has brought new customers in to the bakery and she gets a lot of questions about sourdough and how to bake the perfect bread.

“We think it’s fun when people discover sourdough and even though we’re a bakery we still want to encourage the home bakers,” she says.

“It’s not going to be great the first time but you just have to keep trying.”

Urban Deli’s top tips for a good sourdough:

For a less “sour” sourdough mix flour with lukewarm water to a pancake mix thick consistency. Store it in room temperature.

For a more “sour” dough use more flour and colder water to make the dough a bit thicker. Store it in a cool place.

If you’re not planning on baking straight away you can leave your dough to “sleep” in the fridge for up to 10 days. You can leave it for longer but your dough will feel better if you take it out and feed it once a week.

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FOOD & DRINK

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Kanelbulle

The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

Chokladboll

A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Prinsesstårta

The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.

Budapestbakelse

Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/imagebank.sweden.se

Biskvi

Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.

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