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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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Davidson Hall at Campbell Folk School, Kitchen, Music and "Wet Studios

Davidson Hall at J. C. Campbell Folk School where the Kitchen, Music and “Wet” Studios are located.

Back in 2005 Joe and I attended a week long seminar at J. C. Campbell Folk School which is located in the beautiful Appalachian mountains in Brasstown NC. The campus is set in the most secluded environment and it is easily navigated with numerous trails for an early morning walk. Each day begins with the tradition of Morningsong which is a combination of music and folklore, a great way to start your morning. Meals are served family style in the Dinning Hall which is a great opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life. The campus also has a charming History center and a wonderful Craft Shop which features pottery, handwoven items, jewelry, wood crafts and ironwork. Back in 2005 Joe took a Viking Blacksmithing class and I took a Scandinavian baking class and it turned out to be one of those fantastic experiences that stays with you forever. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I was approached by Campbell Folk School to come down and teach the Scandinavian baking/cooking class during their Scandinavian Heritage week during March 2013.

Director of J. C. Campbell Folk School Jan Davidson performing Morningsong. It's a wonderful beginning to your morning, each day Morningsong is led by someone different.

Director of J. C. Campbell Folk School Jan Davidson performing Morningsong. It’s a wonderful beginning to your morning and each day Morningsong is led by someone different.

Evening entertainment

I didn’t catch their names but they were great. If anyone knows who they are please let me know.

David Baker taught the Kaleidoscope class and he was a riot, a real viking :)

David Baker taught the Kaleidoscope class and he was a riot, a real viking 🙂

Local Fireman doing Morningsong and smartly incorporating fire prevention into his routing.

Local Fireman J. D. Robinson doing Morningsong and smartly incorporating fire prevention into his routine.

The class turned out to be a really good group which meshed together very nicely. There were five wonderful ladies, all with fantastic personalities: Lucrecia, Paula B, Paula C, Roberta and Lynn Ann and then we had one gentleman named Mark which turned out to be a really funny and pleasant feller.

Our class left to right: Paula, Roberta, Lucrecia, Lynn Ann, Gitte, Mark and Paula

Our class left to right: Paula, Roberta, Lucrecia, Lynn Ann, Gitte, Mark and Paula

For the class I had prepared recipes which were Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish in origin and the class was set up to be predominantly baking with one full day of cooking savory foods.

Mark making Pebernødder

Mark making Pebernødder

Roberta and Paula making Norwegian Julekake

Roberta and Paula carefully following a recipe

Lynn Ann making Æbleskiver, they were delicious!

Lynn Ann making Æbleskiver, they were delicious!

Lucrecia and Paula made the classic Othellolagkage. They did an outstanding job.

Lucrecia and Paula made the classic Othellolagkage. They did an outstanding job.

Here are a few pictures of some of the baked goods the class made. We made a lot more than this but I didn’t get pictures of everything.

Othellolagkage

Othellolagkage, a true masterpiece!

Campbell 2 (42)

Making Hindbær Roulade

Campbell 2 (52)

Swedish Lussekatter, before baking.

Campbell 2 (60)

Birkes with Remonce.

Campbell 5 (5)

Kringle pastry

Campbell 5 (6)

Æbleskiver, the only thing missing is a warm glass of Gløgg.

Campbell 5 (8)

Finnish Christmas Stars.

Campbell 6 (3)

Norwegian Krumkake, they were served with vanilla and chocolate filling. Very popular!

Campbell 6 (4)

Scandinavian Toscakake.

Campbell 6 (6)

Kiksekage, very decadent.

The Fiddle class stopped in and serenaded us. They were well fed.

The Fiddle class stopped in and serenaded us. They were well fed.

Midweek is when we cooked the savory foods leading up to our dinner party on Wednesday evening. I wanted them to experience small samples of typical Danish foods and there were some hesitation and a lot of joking 🙂 about eating Marinated Herring and Liver Pate in particular, but I think all in all, they really did like those foods. Our dinner that evening turned out to be a lot of fun and it was a real pleasure meeting everyone’s significant others and family members.

Our dinner party.

Our dinner party.

The menu consisted of a mixture of different food:

Smørrebrød with Danish Rye Bread (Rugbrød), Marinated Herring (Sild) and homemade Curry Salad (Karrysalat)

Smørrebrød with Rye Bread, Liver pate (Leverpostej), fried mushrooms and bacon

Meatballs (Frikadeller) with Red Sweet and Sour Cabbage (Rødkål) and Caramelized Potatoes (Brunede Kartofler)

Ris a La Mande with warm Cherry Sauce (Ris a La Mande with Krisebær Sovs)

Lucrecia stirred and stirred the Risengrød so it wouldn't burn. I think we should have given her some sort of "best stirring" award :)

Lucrecia stirred and stirred the Risengrød so it wouldn’t burn. She deserved some sort of “stirring” award 🙂

Campbell 3 (5)

Making “oh so wonderful” Liver Pate.

Campbell 3 (10)

Danish Smørrebrød with Marinated Herring and homemade Curry Salad (Karrysalat).

Friday afternoon was the closing ceremony and all the different classes put on a display of what they had been making during the week. As for our class, we spent the morning baking so we could provide samples of some delicious special treats to all the other students and instructors. All of the samples were gone within fifteen minutes and we got great reviews on our baked goods. Great job Guys! 🙂

Scandinavian Baking Class, Closing Ceremomy

Scandinavian Baking Class at the Closing Ceremony

The Fiddle class provided entertainment at the Closing Ceremony.

The Fiddle class provided entertainment at the Closing Ceremony.

Viking Style Ironwork

Viking Style Ironwork

Thread Art

Thread Art

Norwegian Rosemaling

Norwegian Rosemaling

Birch Bark Basketry

Birch Bark Basketry

Nordic Knitting

Nordic Knitting

Woodturning

Woodturning

Kaleidoscopes

Kaleidoscopes

Figure Carving

Figure Carving

Weaving

Weaving

Norwegian Bentwood Boxes

Norwegian Bentwood Boxes

Needle Felting

Needle Felting

I wanted to say thank you to all of my students for being so pleasant and I hope you enjoyed tasting all the delicious treats we made. I also wanted to say thank you to Carla Owen who initially approached me to teach at the Folk School and to Nanette Davidson for all of your help and the generous offer you extended to me. I thank all of you!

The Easter Bunny also made an appearance at the Folk School.

The Easter Bunny also made an appearance at the Folk School. (David Baker in disguise)

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Finnish Date Cake

First off, I would like to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and Glædelig Jul. I hope your Christmas is filled with peace and joy 🙂 I feel a bit guilty that I am not posting something Danish here on my blog on Christmas Eve. I could have, but I chose not to because this Finnish cake is so spectacular and so deserving for a Christmas Eve post. So here is the Taatelikakku in all its glory, you wont regret it should you decide to try it out.

I am learning that the Finnish has a lot to offer when it comes to baked goods and this Date Cake is no exception. It is soft, moist and spongy with a delicate Date flavor and not overly sweet. The dough comes together easily in a cooking pot, so very few dirty dishes…I like that 🙂 The original recipe did call for a 4 cup bunt tin, which I don’t have. But I simply just used a standard 8 cup tin and filled it up half-way and it worked out just fine. I can’t say enough good things about this Date cake and it will definitely not be the last time that I make it, besides, I gotta make use of my cool-looking bunt tin.

Finnish Date Cake

Taatelikakku – Finnish Christmas Date Cake (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cold coffee

85 gram butter (3 oz.)

200 gram all-purpose flour (7 oz.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

130 gram dates (4.6 oz.)

90 milliliter water (3 oz.)

110 gram sugar (3.9 oz.)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

Directions:

Spray bunt tin with baking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (335 degrees F).

If you don’t already have coffee prepared, make coffee and set 1/2 cup aside to cool. Melt butter and set aside to cool. Sift flour and baking powder together, set aside. Break dates into small chunks and remove pits, place in a medium size saucepan. Cover dates with water and add sugar, heat until sugar has dissolved and dates are starting to soften. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add baking soda to dates and stir. Add cold coffee and vanilla extract to date mixture. Add melted butter to dates and stir well. Then add the egg and stir to combine. Finally add the flour and stir until mixture is a smooth consistency. Pour batter into prepared bunt tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, careful not to over-bake. Enjoy!

Finnish Date Cake

Source: Melanger

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Finnish Coffee Fingers

Here are some Finnish Coffee Fingers for you. There’s no coffee (or fingers) in these cookies but it’s a cookie that goes well with a cup of coffee or Chai tea. I brought them into my work and my co-workers gave me a lot of really nice comments on them. It’s a basic butter cookie which is soft and delicate and has a wonderful sweet almond flavor. If you’re not big on almond flavor you can use vanilla extract instead and top with a different nut of your choice, pistachio would look real pretty 🙂 Of course now it’s no longer a Finnish Coffee Finger but that’s OK because that’s how cookies evolve. Have fun making these cookies!

Finnish Coffee Fingers (makes 35 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)

2 1/2 c. flour

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbsp. cold water

1/2 c. finely chopped almonds

sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

Using a hand-held or stand mixer, place butter and sugar in the bowl and beat until soft and smooth. Add almond extract and while continuing to mix, add flour in small increments. Mix until dough comes together.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Lightly flour your work surface if needed.  Roll dough into ropes the thickness of a ring finger and cut into 2-3 inch pieces. Gently press the top of dough lightly with the back of your finger. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with chopped almonds and sugar.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Source: What About Pie

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