Christmas Baking 2017

Another Advent and Christmastide has come and gone all too quickly. As always, we enjoyed baking (and eating) a lot of treats along the way!

We didn’t make quite as many cookies this year, but we made all of our favorite kinds…thumbprints in two flavors (raspberry and apricot), chocolate peppermint crunch (those are the ones we didn’t make as many of…I only made about half of what we usually bake), sugar, and gingerbread:

Of course we had lussekattes on Santa Lucia Day!

Cherry coffee cake for Christmas Day morning:

I’ve made Oreo truffles in the past, but I’ve never made an Oreo truffle Christmas tree…pretty and delicious!

I baked three different cakes in about two weeks’ time. Chocolate for Jesus’ birthday, a more formal tuxedo cake for New Year’s, and a Guinness cake for Ryan’s Epiphany birthday:

It’s become a tradition for me to make baklava for Epiphany, too:

And one new recipe for a savory baked good…cheese thumbprints with pineapple jalapeƱo jelly. That recipe is definitely a keeper!

I’m always amazed by how many baking staples I go through at this time of year, and the kitchen is always busy, and smells kind of like a bakery for weeks on end. I will admit to looking forward to a break from various doughs and batters, though!

Lucia Morning

We had a very fun Lucia Morning!

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Since Bunny is charge of the coffee, she let Ladybug take care of the lussekattes this year. Chickadee enjoyed playing with my American Girl doll.

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Ryan says the lussekattes turn out better every year…I don’t know if he’s right, but I know they taste almost as good as they smell…and I love the way they smell!

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Happy Santa Lucia Day!

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

As oldest daughter, Bunny took her job as Santa Lucia very seriously this morning.

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She generously allowed Ladybug to dress up with her, though.

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The Lussekattes were a big hit, for which I was grateful, because they’re an awful lot of work!

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Happy Santa Lucia Day!

Tasty Tuesday–Lussekattes

I thought I’d share this recipe since the commemoration for Santa Lucia is this week. I can’t verify the authenticity of the recipe, since I’m not Swedish, but I do know that the children love it when I make these, and Bunny loves getting to play Santa Lucia on December 13!

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  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup very warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk, scalded and then cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (plus extra for brushing on top)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch saffron (or yellow food coloring)
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 3-3 1/2 cups flour
  • raisins

Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Stir in milk, sugar, butter, 1 egg, cardamom, saffron or food coloring, salt, and orange zest.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups flour and beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, turn, and cover. Let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 1 1/2-2 hours).
Punch down the dough. Divide into two portions and cut each portion into six pieces.
Shape each piece into a smooth rope about 10-12 inches long.
Shape each rope into an “S” shape and curve both ends into a tight coil.

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Place one raisin in the center of each coil.

Place on greased cookie sheets. Brush the tops with butter.
Let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350. Brush the buns with the remaining egg beaten and mixed with water, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Christmas School–Day Eleven

God Jul! and Happy St. Lucia Day!

Today we learned all about Christmas in Scandinavia. We found that although there are many common elements to the Christmas season in each Scandinavian country, they each have unique ways of celebrating, as well. Except for Iceland–we didn’t really learn anything in particular about that country at all! One thing we found interesting is the amount of national pride found on Scandinavian Christmas trees. It is common for residents of each country to put a garland of their own national flag on their Christmas tree.

Our big activity for the day was making Lussekattes, which are a sweet bun served on St. Lucia Day in Sweden. I found the recipe in Celebrate Christmas Around the World–I don’t know how authentic that recipe is, but I do know it calls for the three most expensive spices found in the world! (I also learned that World Market is a great place to buy cardamom for cheap.) We actually started on these last night, because they needed almost three hours to rise, plus all the kneading, shaping, and baking time. They were pretty good–tasted a lot like hot cross buns, but drier. The children all liked them pretty well, too, and they had the satisfaction of having helped make them, so it was a good project.

It is tradition for the oldest daughter in the house to serve the breakfast, and Bunny was happy to oblige. We also learned about the real St. Lucia, both legend and fact. The children were already familiar with what the Swedish St. Lucia looks like from seeing her in St. Charles (and from my American Girl doll), and I think Bunny was secretly hoping to wear a crown of candles. There are many stories about acts St. Lucia might have done in the name of the faith, but we mostly focused on the fact that she was a believer who did good works and in the end died for her faith.

We also read another story in The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories. This time we read “A Very Big Cat,” which is a funny Norse legend. It involves a hunter, a polar bear, and some dwarves who think the bear is a cat. We read this last year, too, and Turkey and Bunny really liked it, and remembered it better than I did.

To round out our trip through Scandinavia, Turkey and Bunny colored pictures of Christmas celebrations in Denmark and Finland. To try to incorporate Iceland into our discussion a little bit, we also looked at the flags of Scandinavia in the Usborne Flags Book. I got this book to use during our Olympics unit at the beginning of the year, and it’s a fun way to familiarize children with the different flags found around the world. Turkey and Bunny liked comparing the different colors found in all the Scandinavian flags, and also noting that they all have the same cross.