Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Baking

I was doing some Christmas baking the other day and thought I would share some of it with all of you.

First up is Lussekatter (Lucia Cats).  These buns are traditionally served December 12 for St. Lucia day.  The figure 8 shape you see above is the traditional 'cat' shape.  I don't really see it, but it's not Christmas without these bun for Lucia.

1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 1/4 cups flour

1 egg
3 tablespoons milk

With a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron and one teaspoon of the sugar together until blended; set aside.

Melt the butter is a saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat and add the milk and saffron mixture.  This mixture should be 98*F.  Heat or cool until the mixture is 98*F.

Place the yeast in a large bowl and pour about 1/4 cup of the saffron mixture over the yeast; stir gently.  Sprinkle the salt and 1 tablespoon sugar over the moistened yeast and let sit 5 minutes.  Stir in the remaining sugar, the saffron mixture, the beaten egg, and 3 cups of flour.  Sprinkle the remaining flour on top and knead the dough for several minutes.  Add more flour if the dough gets too sticky.  Shape into a ball.  Dust the top with flour, cover with a clean bread cloth (or tea towel) and let rise until doubled in size.  (About 1 1/2 hours)

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add flour as necessary if the dough gets too sticky.  Divide the dough into golf ball sized pieces.  Shape the dough into cats (roll into a tube and then form spirals from each end until they meet).  Or make them all bun shaped :)  Place a raisin in the centre of each spiral and place on a greased baking sheet.

Recover the buns with your bread cloth and let rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 425*F.  Beat 1 egg with 3 tablespoons milk.  Brush the tops of the buns with this mixture just before baking.  Bake for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown on top and just beginning to brown on the bottom.  Cool on a cooling rack.

Next up are a light oatmeal cookie called havreflam.  I got this recipe from my uncle when I was baking for my mum's 60th birthday.  In Sweden, it is not considered a good party unless there are at least 7 varieties of cookies.  My uncle wasn't able to come to Canada for the party, but he collected many traditional cookie recipes for me to make.  My first attempt in making them, I made a *minor* mistake in the translation.  They ended up tasting good but were nothing like the traditional cookies.  The translation has since been corrected and this is the version that people in Sweden will recognize.


5 tablespoons butter
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.  Melt the butter.  In a medium sized bowl, stir the oatmeal and butter together.  Let this mixture stand 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, blend the flour and baking powder together.  In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and egg together until foamy.  Add the oatmeal mixture and the flour mixture and stir until just blended.  The dough is quite liquid.

Drop the batter on to the cookie sheet by a scant teaspoonful.  Leave a fair amount of space between each cookie, it spreads quite a bit when baking.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.  Lift the entire sheet of parchment or wax paper onto the cooling rack.  Make sure you let the cookies cool completely before attempting to remove from the paper.

These two cookies have been a family favourite for as long as I can remember.  The shortbread with raspberry jam to the left is called Alexander's kakor and the shortbread with chocolate meringue to the right is called Skrynklor.  Until recently I'd never known Alexander's kakor as anything but 'granddad's favourites' but when my aunt was here for my mum's birthday she identified them by the official name.  Yup, they were my granddad's favourite cookies.  When ever we went to visit him, we (read my mum) would make the cookies and carefully pack them and bring them on the airplane just so he could have some.  Skrynklor translates to 'wrinkles', they're one of my favourite cookies and fortunately they don't cause wrinkles :) 


200 grams butter or margarine
4 tablespoons sugar
600 ml flour

1 egg white
150 ml sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add flour.  Refrigerate the dough while the filling is being prepared.

Whip the egg white until peaks form.  Mix the cocoa and sugar together and fold into the egg white.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle and spread the filling evenly onto the rectangle.  Roll up the dough.  Cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Place slices onto baking sheets and bake in a 375*F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Alexander's Kakor
Make the same dough as for skrinklor but you use less flour.  (Usually about 500ml)

Split the dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll one portion of the dough into a tube (or long snake if you have kids that still play play-dough :) and place on a cookie sheet.  Press a small trough (with your finger) along the entire tube of dough.  Place a small amount of raspberry jam along the trough.  Make sure you don't fill it too full.  The jam bubbles up and makes a mess if you over-fill it.

Repeat this for the other dough portions.

Bake in a 375*F oven for 8-10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet.  Once cooled, mix icing sugar with water until you've got a thick glaze.  Spread along the top of the cookies.  Once the icing has mostly set, cut the cookies into bit sized pieces.

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