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4 Swedish dinners: #2 - Ostkaka

4 Swedish dinners: #2 - Ostkaka
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  • 4 Swedish dinners: #2 - Ostkaka

    Post #1 - June 27th, 2006, 12:05 pm
    Post #1 - June 27th, 2006, 12:05 pm Post #1 - June 27th, 2006, 12:05 pm
    O.K., time to up the ante a little.

    Unfortunately, "ostkaka" tranlates to "cheesecake". This translation is one of those unfortunate circumstances where the English term is already used. Swedish "ostkaka" is not English "cheesecake".

    First, the ingredients:


    Eggs, almonds (sweet and bitter), flour, cream, rennet, sugar, milk.

    Some details.

    Bitter almond is an important flavor in Sweden. The best (and this really is sad...) way to describe the flavor of bitter almonds is it's the artificial almond flavor one sometimes experiences in the States. And they are very bitter! Eat one (one won't kill you!) and you are in for a few minutes of numbing bitterness. Eat a bunch and you're in trouble. We keep these out of the childrens' reach even if the prospect of them eating more than a nibble is slim. The bitter almonds are the dark ones on the lower right.


    Milk is important for this dish, too. I've chosen "ecological old-fashioned milk". The butterfat content is listed as being between 3.8 - 4.5% as it simply depends upon how the cows were doing that day. It hasn't been homogenized either which means that lumps of butterfat float up after it's been poured:


    Anyway, most of the milk is heated to approx. 37 degrees C (about 100 degree F). A little is saved and mixed with the flour. Mash or finely chop the peeled almonds (just blanch them and the skins can be popped off). When the milk reaches 100 degrees, remove from the heat and add the milk/flour slurry followed by the rennet:


    In Sweden, one can still purchase rennet at the state-run pharmacy. It's made from processed calf stomachs and has a slight medicinal odor.

    Mix well, put a lid on the pot and let it sit for 30 minutes.

    While waiting, mix together the eggs, cream, almonds and sugar.

    When the milk/cheese has set, cut it and stir gently with a spoon.


    The curds can then be seperated from the whey with either cheesecloth or a colander.


    You get a lot of whey!


    Add the curds to the egg/cream/almond/sugar mixture and pour into a buttered form.


    Place into an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake until browned (about an hour).


    Serve with bacon. This bacon is made on a farm about an hour north of Stockholm. It's got a powerful smokiness that caught me off guard the first time I tasted it. It's not smoked with hickory or oad and therefore tastes slightly foreign to my American taste buds. I'd guess that they use either beech or alder. I've grown to love it!


    Finally plated! It's traditionally served with jam (I had blackberry) and whipped cream. It was slightly runny which I suppose means that I could have been more diligent in letting the whey run off... Otherwise, the taste is excellent. It seems perhaps strange to use/see almonds as a flavor instead of as an ingredient but their flavor shines through. I really had to resist adding cinammon or vanilla but am glad that I did not. The bacon provides and excellent contrast with its saltiness and smokiness. A wonderful, indulgent dish from Sweden's hard-working, agricultural past.



    A little about the drinks. The "beer" is actually a Swedish concoction known as "mumma". This bottling is from this past Christmas (hence, "Julmumma") and it normally is associated with Christmas. Mumma is made by mixing porter with "sockerdricka" (sprite would do but you really only want sweetened soda water), and shots of madiera, vermouth and perhaps a few other dark spirits. Aside from the liquids, an essential ingredient is cardamom. I figured that the heavy, musty and spicy flavors would work well with the rich creaminess of the cake. The snaps tonight is "Bäska Droppar". It's primary flavoring is wormword. Very bitter but aids in digestion - an appreciated side-effect considering the heavy nature of this meal!
    Last edited by Bridgestone on June 27th, 2006, 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - June 27th, 2006, 12:32 pm
    Post #2 - June 27th, 2006, 12:32 pm Post #2 - June 27th, 2006, 12:32 pm
    This cheesecake isn't really unlike an american cheesecake. Your fresh cheese is very similar to our cream cheese, and from there flavorings are added across the board from sweet to savory.

    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #3 - June 27th, 2006, 12:43 pm
    Post #3 - June 27th, 2006, 12:43 pm Post #3 - June 27th, 2006, 12:43 pm

    I have a question about the role/place for the schnaps. Do you drink it first, along side, after? And in one shot or in sips?

    Anyways, keep 'em coming.

    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #4 - June 27th, 2006, 1:06 pm
    Post #4 - June 27th, 2006, 1:06 pm Post #4 - June 27th, 2006, 1:06 pm
    Rob - snaps in Sweden is practically a chapter in itself.

    Snaps is consumed during the entire meal and alongside any other beverages of choice (beer and snaps do go nicely together!). Traditionally, I suppose, the entire pour would be consumed only to replaced by a fresh one. These days, however, that's a little hearty for most Swedes so one pour usually is enough for two or three sips.

    Now, I'm pulling out the stops for these photo essays which is why I've got the snaps pouring on a weeknight. Normally, it's reserved for festivities (holidays and special events) and, in that case, there are some special rules regarding when to drink the snaps.

    It's rarely more than slightly tasted during a party unless a short song is sung. The song/drinking is introduced like a toast by tapping a knife on another drinking glass. As far as I know, we don't really have any good English drinking songs/ditties (I'd love to hear one as I'm always being asked to sing something in English...). The Swedish ones are often witty, may have a pun and some have histories going back into the 1700's. And, of course, as the evening progresses the subject matter generally gets more and more questionable... As bizarre and taxing as it seemed when I first move here, I've come to feel that the tradition actually makes for entertaining and humorous pauses during what often can be long dinners.