söndag, december 19, 2010
söndag, december 12, 2010
Something new happened in the 1920-ies. A Swedish singer was on a holiday in Neaples. He saw all street- names, restaurants and hotels named after Lucia. He also heard a special fisherman' song and he now, thanks to the song, got an idea to make the Lucia- celebration more respectable. The song got a new text in Swedish- connected to Lucia. In 1928 a newspaper announced a competition "Who will be Santa Lucia of Sweden?" This was the starting point for a new annual celebration. Since then, every year we appoint "Sweden' Lucia".
Very early on 13th December on every school, hospital, work place, church, nursery, homes for the aged- everywhere she turns up. She comes, with candles in her hair - not alone - there are attendants of girls and boys. The girls are called - maiden, the boys - "stjärngossar". You will also find some "Santa Clauses" and "Ginger-Snaps boys" in her procession. All dressed in white- except for the Santa Clauses and the Ginger-Snaps boys. They sing Christmas- Carols and they serve us coffee, "Lussekatter" and hard Ginger-Snaps cakes. The cakes are formed as hearts. They will make us kind.
Why do we celebrate this day so much? This day is important. Perhaps since this day in the past was the shortest day of the year.
This Lutheran country has adopted Santa Lucia as its own special Saint, and the celebration is an interesting mix between Roman Catholic traditions and old Swedish Folklore.
White gowns, stars and candles
The real candles once used are now battery-powered, but there is still a special atmosphere when the lights are dimmed and the sound of the children singing grows as they enter from an adjacent room.
Tradition has it that Lucia is to wear "light in her hair," which in practice means a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle, too. Parents gather in the dark with their new digital cameras at the ready.
The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.
Staunchly opposed to privilege, Sweden has always sought to avoid ranking people, which is why beauty contests and "homecoming queen" events are rare. The Lucia celebration, however, has been an exception. Every year, local newspaper subscribers are invited to vote for one or other of the candidates.
You can no longer count on the blonde winning, although many a Miss Sweden has started out as the local Lucia. On Lucia Day, the winner is announced and is then driven around town, preferably in a horse-drawn vehicle of some kind, to spread light and song in food stores, factories, old-age homes and medical centres.
Lucia — the bearer of light
Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.
Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.
The many Lucia songs all have the same theme:
The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
All Swedes know the standard Lucia song by heart, and everyone can sing it, in or out of tune. On the morning of Lucia Day, the radio plays some rather more expert renderings, by school choirs or the like.
The Lucia celebrations also include ginger snaps and sweet, saffron-flavoured buns (lussekatter) shaped like curled-up cats and with raisin eyes. You eat them with glögg or coffee.
torsdag, december 09, 2010
10–12 decilitre of flour
1/2 tablespoon of bicarbonate
250 gram of butter
1/2 decilitre of cream
3 decilitre of sugar
1 1/2 decilitre of syrup
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of grinded clove
This is what you do :
1. Mix half of the flour with the bicarbonate in a bowl-
2. Put pat of butter into the bowl and mash it together with a fork to a grainy dough.
3. Whip the cream and knead it into the dough.
4. Mix together the rest of the ingredients into the bowl.
5. Knead the dough with the rest of the flower (save some for the baking)
6. Place the dough inside a plastic film and place it inside the fridge until the next day.
7. The day after you take half the dough and knead the dough soft together with some flower.
8. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until its 3–5 millimetre thick.
9. Use gingerbread moulds to shape the gingerbread biscuits. If you don’t have gingerbread moulds you can use a glass that is turned upside down and that way make round biscuits. Not as fun as a heart, an elk or a Moomintroll but it works.
10. Place the biscuits on a buttered baking tray.
11. Put the baking tray in the oven at 175–200 degrees Celsius for about 5–7 minutes.
Take them out while they are still yellow and soft
Gingerbread was brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis (Gregory Makar) (Grégoire de Nicopolis). He left Nicopolis Pompeii, to live in Bondaroy (France), near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed there 7 years, and taught the Gingerbread cooking to French priests and Christians. He died in 999.
During the 13th century, it was brought to Sweden by German immigrants.
Early references from the Vadstena monastery show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion in the year 1444. It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as window decorations. The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates to the 16th century, where they were sold in monasteries, pharmacies and town square farmers' markets.
One hundred years later the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK became known for its gingerbread, as is proudly decreed on their town's welcome sign. The first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made earlier, as ginger was stocked in high street businesses from the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 18th century.
Akin to the original middle eastern recipes, English gingerbread is a dense, treacly (molasses-based) spice cake or bread. Some recipes add mustard, pepper, raisins, nuts, apple, and/or other spices/ingredients to the batter. The usual way of making it is to melt the fat and then mix all the ingredients in a bowl (called "the gingerbread method") rather than using rubbing in or creaming to get the fat absorbed into the flour, and this makes it a particularly easy kind of cake to make.
It is usually baked in a loaf or square shape, rather than in the round form common for fruit cakes or sponges. It is traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night.
As a dessert, the bread usually omits raisins or nuts and is often served with warm lemon sauce. In the United States, this form of gingerbread is sometimes called "gingerbread cake" to distinguish it from the harder forms; as in England it is typically served in winter, but it is particularly associated with Christmas. French pain d'épices is somewhat similar, though generally slightly drier, and always involves honey rather than treacle (and originally its recipe did not involve ginger).
Parkin is a form of hard gingerbread made with oatmeal and treacle which is popular in the North of England.
In Germany gingerbread is made in two forms: a soft form called Lebkuchen and a harder form, particularly associated with carnivals and street markets such as the Christmas markets that occur in many German towns. The hard gingerbread is made in decorative shapes, which are then further decorated with sweets and icing. The tradition of cutting gingerbread into shapes takes many other forms, and exists in many countries, a well known example being the gingerbread man. Traditionally, these were dunked in port wine.
In Scandinavia, the most popular form of ginger confection are the Pepperkaker (Norwegian), Pepparkakor (Swedish) or Pebernødder (Danish). They are thin, very brittle biscuits that are particularly associated with the extended Christmas period. In Norway, Sweden and Denmark pepperkaker/pepparkakor/pebernødder is also used as window decorations, the pepperkaker/pepparkakor/pebernødder is then a little thicker than usual and decorated with glaze and candy. Many families bake pepperkaker/pepparkakor/pebernødder as a tradition with their kids. In English pepperkaker/pepparkakor/pebernødder would be referred to as ginger biscuits rather than gingerbread.
Gingerbreads are known in Russia. The most famous gingerbreads there are baked in the ancient cities Tula (Tula gingerbread), Vyazma, and Gorodets.
In Poland, the gingerbreads are knows as Pierniki. The most famous one is known as Toruń gingerbread (Toruński Piernik). Toruński Piernik is a traditional Polish gingerbread that has been produced since the Middle Ages in the city of Toruń (Thorn).
In Croatia, gingerbread known as licitar is traditionally made in the shape of a heart and is used as an ornamental gift.
måndag, december 06, 2010
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup any flavor fruit jam
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2.Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sifted flour, and mix well. Shape dough into 1 inch diameter balls and place on cookie sheets. Imprint your thumb in the center to make a 1/2 inch indentation. Fill with your favorite preserves.
3.Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.
•100 grammes butter (6 tablespoons)
•2 1/4 decilitre = 1 cup light brown sugar
•2 3/4 decilitre = 1.2 cups wheat cake flour
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
•1.5 decilitre = 3/4 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 175°C (=350 ° F.)
Grease and flour cake pan.
Melt butter over low heat and cool.
Whisk eggs and brown sugar together.
In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and spices until blended.
Add sour cream and melted butter into the egg and sugar mixture; stir until thoroughly blended.
Add flour mixture and stir to combine the ingredients.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan.
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda dissolved in a little warm water
1/2 tsp EACH of ginger cinnamon, cloves
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
Cream butter and sugar.
Using electric beater and another bowl, beat eggs till very light and add to first bowl.
Add baking soda and spices.
Add flour, alternating with milk, and mix well.
Spray two 8x4 loaf pans with cooking spray.
Spread batter into the pans and bake 50-60 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cakes cool before removing from pan.
Jenny Nyström is the girl from Kalmar that went to Paris and became one of Sweden's most beloved illustrators.
She was an academically skilled artist in a time when a woman's role was to take care of home and family.
This is a blog that has a lot to read about, including Jenny Nystrom.
söndag, december 05, 2010
Almond-filled Saffron Buns
Saffron buns is absolutely essential to Swedish christmas - or really, to the entire month of December. Swedes really enjoy the four weeks of Advent, taking care to decorate their homes and even workplaces, and definitely having a lot of opportunities to eat gingerbread, saffron buns and drink lots of "glögg" which is our version of warm, spiced wine.
Saffron buns can easily dry out, but these ones won't since they have such a nice and moist filling. Freeze them right after baking, and defrost as you need them. They go very well with a glass of milk, or a mug of warm chocolate. For more traditional saffron buns, I have this recipe.
Almond-filled Saffron Buns
24 large buns
100 g butter
500 ml milk (full-fat)
100 ml sugar (about 95 g)
1 tsp salt
1/2 g saffron
50 g fresh yeast
7-800 g all-purpose flour
100 g butter, softened
250 g almond paste (with at least 50% almonds), grated
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 g saffron
1 tbsp white syrup (golden syrup or even corn syrup is ok, as is liquid glucose)
Melt the butter for the dough, and mix with the milk and the saffron. Heat until it's about 37°C (feels just warm to the touch). Crumble the yeast in a bowl and pour the liquid over it. Stir until the yeast has dissolved. Add salt, sugar and flour, and work into a smooth and supple dough. It should release easily from the sides of the bowl, but it might still feel a little tacky to the touch.
Cover the bowl and leave to rise for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix all the ingredients for the filling with hand-held electric beaters (or by hand, if you're vigorous) until it's smooth and even.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle, and spread the filling on top. Roll from the long side, making sure you get it nice and tight. Cut into slices, about 1,5 cm thick.
Place the buns on a lined baking sheet and leave to rise for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and pearl sugar, and bake at 250°C for 7-8 minutes.