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September 14, 2012

What’s “Scandinavian Pastry” with Quark?

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What’s “Scandinavian Pastry” with Quark?

Ah, The Great British Bake-off.  We love that show.  Last week, one of the contestants made Wellington using what he described as “Scandinavian Pastry” because it was made with butter and Quark.  Since then, we've had quite a number of questions relating to Quark.

While the jury is out – in our humble Nordic opinion – about how Scandinavian this particular pastry is, it is very true that we use a lot of Quark in our cooking.

What is Quark?

It’s a cheese, technically.  It is also known as Curd Cheese.  The Swedes sell it under the brand name of “Kesella” (but this is a brand only – it is simply Quark).  The French tend to call is Fromage Frais.  Yes, we know:  Fromage frais is sold as a yoghurt here with cream added so it is no longer low fat, so it is slightly confusing.  Want to be even more confused?  It’s technically the same as Skyr too, that Icelandic yoghurt that everybody who’s ever been to Iceland can’t get out of their head and pre-order from us by the case load whenever we can get hold of it (the UK version tastes different mainly because of the food the cows eat).    Quark is extremely popular in Eastern European cooking as well as Russian cooking.

Confused yet?  So are we.  Let’s say it is a dairy product that is high in protein and naturally low in fat – but super creamy and extremely filling.  It has slightly sour notes but works extremely well with fruit – and also in cooking.

Here are five different ways you can use Quark in your food – a natural way to keep things low fat. 

  1.  Makes a really good dressing for salads – keeping them creamy whilst still being naturally low fat.  Mix the Quark with spices and herbs to use as dips for crudités.
  2. Quark is great for cheesecake.  Replace part of the full fat cream cheese in the American cheesecakes with quark to lighten the calories.
  3. Mix Quark and crème fraiche and the seeds from half a vanilla pod and a bit of lemon zest.  Use as topping for fresh fruit salad.
  4. Use Quark to thicken up sauces – just add to sauces and casseroles instead of crème fraiche or cream.
  5. Use Quark in baking – for example, when baking buns or Saffran Lucia buns (lussebullar).  You can replace some of the liquid with equal quantities of Quark. 

All major UK supermarkets stock quark – as do most Eastern European stores. 

At Scandi Kitchen, we stock Icelandic style SKYR– but pre-orders only.  Mail shop@scandikitchen.co.uk if you want to go on the Skyr Mailing List to be notified of when we get stock in.

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Quark's not a new thing in Britain - it was big at one time because it was marketed as one of the first low fat 'cream' cheeses as I think the German variety we got is thick but not solid ( all depends on whey ratios and stirring continuously or not) and dieters learnt to cook with it and grew to love it...my mum used to make a tasty German cheesecake with it...

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