When I married a Swede, I married into a culture that loves good design, tubed caviar, strong coffee, and a killer pastry. I still love the nostalgic waft of a mall Cinnabon, but there is truly nothing like a first bite into a fresh, still-warm-from-the-oven Swedish cinnamon bun (kanelbulle) or cardamom bun (kardamombulle). No trip to Stockholm is complete without enough bun-filled coffee breaks (called fika) to necessitate an upgrade to more forgiving stretchy pants.
That's why when I first came upon Rachel Khoo's cheesy take on a Swedish bun, my ears instantly perked up. Rachel is a wildly popular English cookbook author and star of one of my favorite cooking shows, The Little Paris Kitchen, where she set up a full-fledged restaurant in her tiny Parisian flat. In her latest book, The Little Swedish Kitchen, she explores Swedish cuisine after moving to Stockholm, where she now lives (mostly—she still bops into London once in a while) with her husband and toddler son.
The recipes, including this one for Apple and Cheese Spelt Buns, are dreamed up through Rachel's multi-faceted culinary lens: She's English, yes, but her palate is heavily influenced by a Malaysian father and Austrian mother, as well as her extended time studying pastry in France.
"The bun filling is a little nod to my love of cheese. I'm a cheeseaholic," Rachel professes. "It's in my blood with my mum from Austria, where they have some amazing Alpine cheese; my childhood of growing up on good classic English cheddar cheese sandwiches and an apple in my school packed lunch; my living in Paris for eight years where visiting my local cheesemonger would be one of the highlights of food shopping; and now in Sweden and falling in love with their cheeses. My favorite being Västerbotten, a mature hard cheese with a great flavor that suits both cooking and eating. It has now become a staple in my fridge."
If you, too, are a fan of cheese paired with a little fruit, encased in fragrant, pillowy buns, these character-filled spelt buns (with a touch of rye flour) will be right up your alley. They have a golden crust that begs to be pulled apart to show the soft interior. Inside, you'll find that the cheese bubbles up and mingles with the caramelized bits of apple; the caraway smells heavenly. These buns are best still-warm, so make sure you don't walk away after they're removed from the oven. Bake these up one slow wintry weekend, and be sure to have plenty of coffee on hand.