Mormors bröd - Grandmother's Bread
Swedes eat sandwiches for breakfast and between meals. We have different toppings depending on the time of day. Perhaps marmalade, cheese, eggs and "swedish caviar" in the morning and something more filling for later on in the day- such as ham and salad, smoked meats with horseradish cream, fried eggs or sausages or bacon with lettuce.
When I was small my grandmother would bake this bread but usually without the spices. I can still picture her standing in front of me, cutting the bread into thin slices. She would hold the bread against her chest with one arm and manouver the knife with the other hand, cutting towards herself. I was always worried she would slip with the knife!
When she baked bread she used to make something she called "pysekagor" in her southern dialect. She would cut the ends off the unbaked loaves and bake these little bunlets for us. They puffed up beautifully in the oven and then when "poof" when she took them out, almost like little pita breads. We were then allowed to eat them fresh from the oven, with butter and honey. Now in my family we feel that bread is best eaten straight from the oven, and whenever I take out a batch of bread my children gather around in anticipation, but that wasn't the way the older generation did it. The regular loaves weren't eaten warm, they were not to be touched until they were cooled and "set". So my grandmothers pysekagor were a real treat for us kids.
They were also a main part of a wonderful tradition she invented and that I remember vividly from my childhood days, to "kura skymning", which is impossible to translate but it means to huddle together in the dusk. When the twilight started creeping in we would gather in her kitchen sofa with blankets and hot chocolate and pysekagor, and she would tell ghost stories and sing old horrifying chapbook songs, or tell tales of her childhood and reiterate old ways and sayings. It was a cozy time which lasted until she lit the lamps for the evening.
She didn't leave a proper recipe but I have reconstructed the measurements from her instruction.
1.5 kg wheat flour
400 g sifted rye
(or the other way around: 400 g wheat flour and 1.5 kg sifted rye)
100 g fresh yeast
4 tbsp sugar
1 dl oil or 100 g butter, melted
5 dl milk
5 dl water
1 tbsp fennel seed, ground
1 tbsp cumin seed, ground
1 tbsp aniseed ground
Place yeast in a bowl. Melt the butter in a pan and mix in the milk and water and the spices (if using). Heat until lukewarm. Add some of the liquid to the yeast and stir until it is dissolved. Then add the rest of the liquid.
Add the flours and sugar run in a dough mixer until it forms a hard dough, 3 -4 minutes. Then add the salt and run the mixer for another 7-8 minutes.
Let it rise in the bowl, 30-40 minutes. Turn onto a lightly greased surface and work the dough. Split into three parts, then flatten each part into a square, and roll these into rolls. Place all three on the baking sheet, seam down and tuck in the ends underneath. Brush the sides with melted butter or oil as they tend to grow into each other and this makes it easier to part them. I like to make a few cuts across the top of each loaf, I find the effect quite decorative.
Let rise on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. Bake low in oven, in 175 degrees C (340 F) for an hour.