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Archive for December, 2013

Norwegian Julekake

Julekake is a Norwegian Christmas Bread which is really easy to make. The original recipe called for candied citron which I think is what we reffer to as “Sukat” in Denmark. I had neither on hand but I did have candied orange peel which I believe is more or less in the same family. The candied orange peel does render a very unique flavor to the bread, a flavor you either love or hate 🙂 So if your not a fan, you can always just leave it out or maybe replace it with some dried cranberries, yum!

Making Julekake

The bread is served either warm or toasted with soft butter or some jam. I would like to point out that the unique candied orange flavor goes really well with Nutella, although I don’t think Nutella would be a traditional way of serving the bread, but delicious nonetheless.

Julekake (makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 25 grams cake/fresh yeast)

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced (candid citron or Sukat)

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup raisins

1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

Melt butter and set aside. Combine water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and milk in a small sauce pan, heat to 100-110 degrees F and remove from heat. Sprinkle yeast over warm milk, give a quick stir and let sit 10 minutes. Place fruit in a small bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of the flour, mix to coat fruit with flour, set aside. Pour milk/yeast mixture into bowl of stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add egg, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cardamom and butter, start mixer on medium-low. Add flour in increments and finally add the fruit. Place dough on flour dusted work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean, dry tea-towel and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Give dough a quick knead to deflate and place on baking sheet. Cover dough with tea-towel and let rise for another 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly beat egg to make an egg wash. Brush dough with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes. Note: you may need to cover bread loosely with foil after the first 20 minutes of baking to avoid over-browning. Serve warm or toasted with butter or jam. Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas!

Source: adapted from Mrs. Sig Score

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Jødekager

Jødekager is a Danish cookie which was always a part of the traditional Christmas baking at our house while I was growing up. It’s a small round cookie sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, reminding me of the American Snickerdoodle. There is some confusion as to where Jødekager originated from but most sources believe that the cookies were sold in Jewish bakeries in Copenhagen approximately 150 years ago and I guess that is how they got their name? In any case, they are wonderful little cookies and they are so easy to make. Prepare the dough the night before and then it’s just a matter of slicing, sprinkling and baking, and your kitchen will be filled with the smell of Christmas 🙂

Jødekager

Jødekager (makes 55-60 cookies)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

330 gram flour (11 3/4 oz.)

250 gram butter, cold (8 3/4 oz.)

200 gram sugar (7 oz.)

2 egg yolks

For garnish:

1 egg white

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Crumble flour and butter together until it has the consistency of grated Parmesan cheese, this is best done using a food processor. Place in a large bowl and add sugar and egg yolks. Using your hands, knead the dough quickly until dough comes together and it’s homogeneous, careful not to over-knead. Divide dough into 2 or 3 portions and roll each portion into a 2 inch (5 centimeter) log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours or overnight.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 395 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Lightly beat egg white with a fork to break it up. In a small dish, mix sugar and cinnamon, set aside. Cut logs into 0.2 inch (the thickness of three quarters put together) (5 millimeter) thick slices and place on baking sheet. Brush each slice with egg white and sprinkle a generous layer of sugar/cinnamon mixture on top. Bake in the middle of oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Jødekager dough rolled into logs

Source: adapted from Claus Meyer

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Finnish Christmas Stars

This is without a doubt the craziest dough I have ever worked with! When I first read the directions I was a little confused. It was unclear to me if they were asking for 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream or 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream. It turns out you start with 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream which is then beaten into whipped cream with soft peaks. As I went on making this dough I had some serious doubts about it. When the dry ingredients are mixed with the whipped cream it becomes crumbly and then when the soft butter is worked in it becomes sticky. It does however set up nicely in the refrigerator. Finally when the dough is rolled out, make sure your work surface is floured very well. At this point the dough becomes very easy to work with and rolls out beautifully. If you are unfamiliar with the rolling and folding three times procedure it is basically the same as if your making Wienerbrød or Birkes although this is not a puff pastry dough and you can read and see more pictures of the folding process on those two pages.

The final outcome was a beautiful star shaped cookie, tender and buttery with a delicious sweet, yet tangy, prune center. The cutting and folding of the cookies is a fun process which would be a great activity with older children. The Joulutortut cookies were definitely worth the effort!

Joulutortut – Finnish Christmas Stars (makes 30 cookies)

Ingredients:

For Prune Filling:

5 oz. pitted prunes

water to cover prunes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar (2 oz.)

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour (24 oz.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (12 0z.)

1 cup butter, at room temperature (8 oz.)

For finishing:

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Place prunes and water in a small saucepan and simmer until prunes become very soft, 15-20 minutes. Pour prunes, lemon juice and sugar into a blender and puree. Set prunes aside to cool.

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside. Measure 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, beat whipping cream until it starts to thicken (soft peaks). Using a spatula, add flour to whipped cream, mixture will be crumbly. Now using your hands, work the soft butter into the mixture until well combined, the dough will be sticky. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F)

Making sure your work surface is well floured, roll the dough out to a rectangle. Fold dough into thirds, rotate dough a quarter of turn and fold into thirds again, making a small square. Turn over dough. Repeat rolling and folding another two times. Finished rolled out dough should be 15×18 inches, trim off edges to get straight lines. Measure and cut dough into 3 inch squares. Then make small cuts in towards the middle of each square. First move each cut square onto baking sheets, then place a small teaspoonful of prune filling in the center of each square. Fold every second corner into the middle of each square, creating a star shape. Brush with egg wash making sure the center gets a good amount of egg wash to prevent the star from opening up during baking. Sprinkle with Pearl sugar (or regular caster sugar). Bake for 10 minutes or just until golden. Cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes before transferring stars to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Source: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

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