Kräftskiva, cake and crackers

Every year during the month of August Swedish people are celebrating Kräftskiva, a crayfish party. It is a perfect opportunity to get some friends together and celebrate the crayfish season with delicious food, good wine and some Aquavit (Scandinavian spices and herbs spirit). When in Sweden, we would celebrate Kräfskiva too, and this is how it came that we had some folk coming over to us yesterday. We got a big load of crayfish from a friend, who actually does fish for crayfish. The only thing left was to setup the table, chill the drinks and  prepare some snacks to go along with the crayfish. Usually you do not need much, as crayfish are already delicious on their own, but some fresh bread, light salad and some crackers are always a good idea and as you know me, a cake shall not be missing either.

My mother in law and I were busy preparing the delights and all the things for the party. My boys were left to their own, as I needed my time in the kitchen. Once in a while Pablo would storm into the kitchen, just to check up on the progress... give me a hand for a minute or so and then again despairing as quick as he came. As usual we made too much food, being worried it would not be enough.... I doubt I will ever learn to cook appropriate amount of food when doing dinner parties. The fear of my guest leaving hungry, always leads me to too much food. Funny to see that my mother in law is the same, we both would go over and over the menu agreeing that this is already enough, but finally ending up with some more snacks here and there.
As already mentioned crayfish are just delicious on their own, but serving them with some fresh baguette and flavored butter makes it even more special... I decided to make the baguette myself, homemade bread is always special and a lovely treat, which will be always appreciated by your guest. Making bread is not difficult, especially white bread. You do not need any special ingredients either, the only thing you would need is time, which is also not an issue if you prepare the dough couple of hours in advance.

Baguette bread
  • 150 ml warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 25 g fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • about 350 g bread flour
  • olive oil
Put warm water, sugar and east in a bowl and give it a stir. Put it aside for 10 minutes, till foam starts to build and you can smell the east. Add 2/3 of the flour, salt and a good splash of olive oil. Knead for couple of minutes in a kitchen machine or with your hands. Add more flour if the dough appears to be sticky (spoon wise), continue kneading. Once the dough is not sticking to your fingers anymore, stop adding the flour. Put the dough into a bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it raise for 1- 1,5 hours or till double in size in a warm place. Knead the dough with your hand couple of times and divide it in two equal parts. Roll each part in a baguette shape and put it on a baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it raise for another 40-50 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180C. Makes some cuts on the surface of the baguettes and bake them for 20-25 minutes, till golden brown. You shall hear a hollow sound when you tip on the baguette. Let is cool completely. I sprinkled my baguette with some sesame seeds to add even more flavors to it (brush the baguette with eggwash and sprinkle some sesame seeds, before putting it into the oven). Let the bread cool off completely before cutting / serving.

And what would be fresh made baguette without butter? Fresh bread and butter are match made in heaven. I made two kinds of flavored butter to be served with the baguette, which go also perfect with the crayfish..

Lemon and rosemary butter
  • 100 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 brunch fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Add butter, zest of a lemon, finely chopped rosemary and salt into a bowl. Mix it all well together with an electrical mixer.

Basil and smoked paprika butter

  • 100 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 5-6 big leaves of fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Add butter, smoked paprika powder, finely chopped basil and salt into a bowl. Mix it all well together with an electrical mixer.
Glutenfree rosemary crackers
  • 150 g almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • branch of fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg
Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine flour, salt and rosemary in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the oil and the egg, add it to the dry ingredients and mix together. You shall get a soft ball of a dough, still bit sticky (if too sticky so you cannot work with it, add some more almond flour). Roll the dough, between 2 baking paper sheets, to a rectangle (pretty thin) and cut the crackers, using a pizza cutter. Bake the crackers for 12-15 minutes, till golden brown.

These crackers are so easy to make and taste super delicious, not to mention the fact that they are gluten free. Serve them with some cheese and grapes and you will have a perfect canape for the aperitif or a small snack after the dinner, enjoying it with some cheese.
Cheese crackers
  • 90 g butter (room temperature)
  • 60 g parmesan cheese (finely grated)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (finely chopped)
  • 160 g flour
Beat the butter till fluffy and light in the color, add parmesan cheese, salt and thyme, steer briefly. Add the flour (all in once), mix till all well combine. You shall get a soft dough, which is not sticking to you hands. Make a roll (about 3-5 cm) out of the dough. Wrap it in a clean film and place it into the freezer for abut 20 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the roll into slices (half cm thick), place the cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, till the edges starts to brown. Let eh cookies cool completely.
For the dessert I decided to do my favorite vanilla sponge cake with my new favorite mascarpone chocolate frosting. As we are still having plenty of blackberries to be picked up in the garden, so I did add some of those too. For the cake decoration I used more blackberries, some spear mint branches, which are blooming right now) and some flowers, which I could find in the garden,

Vanilla sponge cream cake

  • 6 eggs
  • 180 g sugar
  • vanilla sugar
  • 180 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 baking pans with baking paper (do not grease it!). In a bowl beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar for at east 5 minutes with an electrical mixer, till double in size and almost white in the color. Sift together flour and baking powder, add to the egg sugar mixture, combine everything careful with a spatula. Divide the batter between the baking pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, till golden brown (make the stick test). Take it out on the cooling rack and let it cool completely.

Mascarpone chocolate frosting
  • 500 g mascarpone cheese
  • about 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • milk or heavy cream
Mix together mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar and coco powder. Use more or less sugar, depending how sweet you would like to have the frosting. Pour a bit of a milk / heavy cream and give it a mix...continue adding the milk till you will reach the desired consistency. The frosting shall not be too runny or dense, having a creamy consistency and easy to spread.

Assembling the cake: Half the cake layers, so you will get 4 layers. Put the first layer on a cake stand and a generous amount of the frosting on top, spread the frosting and top it with berries, put the second cake layer on top. Continue the same way with the remaining layers, frosting and berries. You can leave the side of the cake unfrosted (naked cake)  or cover it with a thin layer of frosting as I did. Decorate the top as you desire... fresh berries and flowers, are always great to be used It is easy and looks always very elegant and special.