I’m ridiculously off-track with my challenge now, so better late than never with this review – a real dream of a book – The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.
It’s Allan Karlsson’s one hundredth birthday and he can’t face the party that the nursing home is putting on for him, so he takes a quiet opportunity to climb out of the window and run away. From that moment he begins an unlikely adventure across Sweden that involves stealing several million Krona and leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. He also meets a motley crew of characters: Julius, the petty thief, Benny, the almost-vet/doctor/carpenter/jack of all trades, The Beauty and her elephant Sonya and mobster Pike (aka the Boss). Baffled yet? Well so are the police on his trail – has Allan been kidnapped or is he a murderer?! And how does it all fit together? In parallel to Allan’s present day adventures, we learn more about this centenarian’s remarkable life and his involvement with some of history’s key events and figures – from saving General Franco’s life in the Spanish civil war, having dinner with Stalin, receiving money from Chairman Mao and playing a pivotal role in the development of the atomic bomb!
This book is so wonderfully absurd, that it won’t fail to make you smile! I loved the twists and turns the story took – it is pure farce at times, but it’s hilarious. Allan is anything but a doddery old man – he is a genius! I would definitely recommend this book, it is deliciously quirky and a great work of fiction!
I realise I’ve not done much cooking of the books lately, but fear not – I am back this week! I went with a Swedish theme and decided to bake…
For the buns:
300ml whole milk
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds (about 25 pods)
425g plain flour
7g fast action yeast
60g caster sugar
¼ tsp fine salt
1 egg, beaten lightly
Oil, to grease
For the filling
75g butter, softened
50g dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten lightly
Demerara sugar, to sprinkle
1. Start by grinding cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar. Place the milk in a saucepan, add the cardamom and then gently heat until it is just below the boil. Add the butter (which will melt), stir and leave to cool slightly.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Mix well and then strain the milk into the mixture. Bring together in a dough. Warning: the dough will be very wet/sticky!
3. Grease a clean surface with oil so it doesn’t stick and then tip the dough out onto the surface and knead for about 5 minutes. It will stick to your hands/the worktop/anything else, so use more oil if necessary and be prepared for a mess!! Eventually it will become less sticky and dough like or you will just get so fed up that you give up then anyway! Wipe out your mixing bowl and grease this with oil and then place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with clingfilm. Here is a pic of my dough at this stage for reference:
4. Place your bowl in a warm, draught-free place – if you have one of those fancy bake off proving drawers (as if) then that would be ideal, but I used the cupboard which has the boiler in! You could use a warm windowsill too but good idea to keep it covered with a tea towel too if you do that. Leave to prove for 30 mins. While it’s proving, scrap all the sticky dough off the work surface/floor/ceiling/your face!
5. Make the filling by beating everything together in a bowl. Make sure it’s well combined so you don’t end up with lumps of plain butter, but remember that it will melt down in the oven so don’t worry too much if it’s a bit lumpy/uneven. Heat the oven to 200 deg C or gas mark 6.
6. After 30 mins take your dough out. Mine looked like this:
Nice a pillowy! Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangular shape. Smear the filling onto the dough (best to use hands to get it even) and then roll the dough up into a sausage shape. Cut this into 7 pieces (the end ones will be a bit smaller) and then place in a baking tray (grease this first or line with baking paper). Each piece should look like a swirl.
7. Cover again with cling film and return to your proving spot for a further 30 minutes. When the 30 mins is up, the dough should spring back to touch. Glaze with your remaining egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven for 25mins or until golden brown.
Mine are more dark brown, but they taste pretty good!! Eat whilst reading a good book with a nice cuppa.