It seems that snow has landed everywhere but in my little countryside village these past weeks.
I´ve been ever so excited for white crystals to drape every tree and hedge around the cottage, but to no avail.
So far we've been exempt from a magical sprinkle of that white winter frosting.
This time of the year all I yearn for is warming cups of tea, mulled wine, freshly baked cookies and my grandmother's "Smultringer" aka, Norwegian doughnuts and a wee bit of snow.
It always surprised me that we actually never got to taste her Smultringer when they were freshly made.
My grandmother was a planner, and would bake days ahead of any known visit.
In a round tin box with chipped paint and a dented lid, she would keep these delicious doughnuts for whenever friends and family would pop by for a visit in the afternoon. Such a visit called for both a warm welcome drink, and something sweet as a side treat.
She didn't have the habit of writing down her recipes, and only a few have survived on weathered yellow paper with her distinct beautiful handwriting.
When she passed away at 94, my mother and I strived to recreate some of her staple pieces in the kitchen with varied luck.
A soon as I began writing my cookbook "The Cottage Kitchen" I knew I wanted to include her delightful Smultringer.
My grandmother served hers naked, baked days in advance.
I serve mine drenched in chocolate sauce, warm on the day of making.
As summer turned to Autumn and the deadline for handing in the last few recipes loomed on the horizon, I had yet to master her Smultringer. My lovely assistant Abbie Melle and I practically lived in the kitchen those last days, churning out doughnuts with lard, without lard, with butter, with oil, then back to butter, trying out different types of flour, and into the bubbling oil they went.
We looked at each other as we tried ring after ring of these traditional Norwegian treats.
One batch was a definite no!
It was the one where I seemed to remember my grandmother frying them in Lard...
In the end we settled for the version as close to what recipe she must have used, and called my mother to confirm.
Once I had my mother´s go ahead, the last recipes was sent off to my publisher Clarkson Potter in New York.
The day my cookbook came out this October, I picked up a copy of the book, took a seat in the sofa I had inherited from my grandmother, and sent her a thought.
I think she may have smiled back.
Your sofa is in England now, I whispered and stroked the french linen fabric I had reupholstered it in.
I´m not sure she approved of my choice of fabric, but I did sense a wee smile anyway.
Some of the recipes in my cookbook "The Cottage Kitchen" are hers.
Having kept the phone line warm between my mother and I, and with quite a few letters sent across the channels trying to remember her recipes, we managed to get there in the end.
The most challenging aspect of the book was by far to get the recipes right, and when are they ever right.
One day it rains, which affects the amount of flour in a recipe, my oven may be different than yours, my cottage is at a lover altitude then your home, and the quantities of flour per cup varies with every cup filled when we tried to convert from grams to cups.
But at some point one has to say, this is it, the recipe works, has been tested and tested and it´s time to set it in stone.
However, I hope as you cook from my cookbook that you use common sense, add a bit of this and that, roast for a bit longer, boil for a bit longer, add more seasoning etc.
After all, I think no recipe should be followed blindly, and it´s a lot more fun when you make it yours in the end.
For best results when you cook from my book, I´d suggest getting a scale and working from grams.
Before I end with the recipe, may I just say thank you for making this book journey of mine possible with all your encouraging words, emails and comments.
Many of you helped with recipe testing and it was always such a treat reading your notes and feedback.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I´ll be sharing a few more recipes from my cookbook over the next months, but with no further ado, here´s the recipe for my grandmother's Norwegian doughnuts, with my mother´s thick and glossy chocolate sauce.
My Grandmother’s “Smultring” with Chocolate Sauce Recipe
makes 12 to 15 doughnuts
These are quite different to the krispy creams and dunking donut´s doughnuts,.
They can keep in an airtight container for a few days, but I love them warm, drizzled with my mother´s thick and glossy chocolate sauce.
TIP: The round doughnuts holes can be pierced and filled with jam.
2 medium eggs
125g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
75ml / 1/3 cup double/whipping cream
75ml / 1/3 cup kefir or plain unsweetened yogurt
450g / 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 1/2 litres / 7 cups vegetable oil
My Mother’s Chocolate Sauce, warmed, recipe follows
In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar for 8 to 10 minutes to a light frothy, meringue like consistency. In a separate bowl whisk the cream till soft peaks form and fold into the egg and sugar mixture. Add the kefir / yoghurt and stir to combine. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, and add the cardamon. Melt the butter, add to the mixture and stir to combine into a dough. Leave to rest overnight in the fridge.
Next day, remove from fridge and roll out with a rolling pin to 1 centimetre / 1/4 inch thick.
Use a doughnut cutter or a glass to cut out circles of dough 8 centimetres / 3 inches width, with a small cutter or glass 4 centimetre / 1 1/2 inch wide for the hole in the middle.
In a medium saucepan with a lid set over medium-high heat, heat oil till 180°C / 355°F. Test by dropping a wooden spoon, shaft end down in the hot oil, if it bubbles around it, the oil is hot enough. Drop 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time into the oil, taking care not to crowd the pot so it boils over. Fry the doughnuts until golden, 2 to 3 minutes, turning halfway.
Remove and place on a rack to cool.
My Mother’s Chocolate Sauce Recipe
makes 500 ml / 2 1/4 cups
370 g / 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
100 ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon, light golden syrup
60 g / 3/4 cup cocoa powder
200 ml / 1 cup water
50 g / 1.7 ounces 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine all the ingredients, whisk well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, till luscious and glossy, stirring occasionally. Though it may not seem that thick, the mixture will thicken more as it cools. Sterilise a glass jar sufficiently large to hold the sauce and with a wide opening to allow for easy access to the sauce. Pour in the chocolate sauce, and keep in fridge for up to 1 month.
Serve cold or warm.