Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Very Swedish Christmas: The Gingerbread Edition

Ok, so I usually try to avoid the subject of Swedish food, not just because, as Bill Bryson wrote 'Eating in Sweden is really just a series of heartbreaks,” and he wasn't too far off. If the food doesn't depress you, chances are the bill will crush you. But also because I am a vegetarian, and this means I abstain from most of the Swedish classics. No herring, no herring, and no herring.

But baked goods I can do. And occasionally I try to do them myself. It's Christmas and that means Gingerbread, Lussekatter, and Glogg. Three things I can partake in – although I'm not a huge Glogg fan.

Many Swedish women get crazy ambitious at Christmas. As much as Swedes are all 'yay equlity' there is nothing like Christmas to bring out some old-fashioned gender roles. The many Swedish women I know end up not only baking all December long, but also making Christmas chocolate, hanging the Christmas curtains, and stimulating an economic recovery of enourmous preportions by buying all of the menfolk in their lives the Christmas Present of the year -the Surfplatta (read: Ipad – more on this weird present tradition soon).

Well, I am not quite so ambitious. And I am not trying to recreate a Swedish Christmas of yore. But I am home on leave at the moment. And these leads me to bake more often than usual. So I whipped together a lovely batch of Gingerbread cookies. But no, I am not Ingrid Svensson, so I did not just throw together a gingerbread house that was an exact replica of my own house, the local church, or a NYC skyscraper. In fact, I will not be baking a gingerbread house at all. Thank you very much. And these I just used a regular drinking glass to cut.

I modified a recipe (use at your own risk) to kind of Americanize these Swedish cookies by adding brown sugar (NOT BROWN FARIN!) if you don't have it, you can just use white sugar instead:
Please note: This makes a LOT of cookies!

300 grams of butter (room temp)
4 dl of sugar
1 dl brown sugar
1 dl light syrup
1 package of pepparkaka kryddor
1 tablespoon of Ginger
1 tbs baking soda
2 dl water
15 dl flour

  1. Preset your oven to 225 C
  2. Cream the butter, sugar (brown and white) and syrup in one large bowl.
  3. Add the pepparkaka kryddor and the water, mix well.
  4. Slowly add the flour, while kneading the mixture with your hands. When the dough becomes thick, remove from bowl and knead on a baking tray.
  5. Wrap the dough in foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for 12 hours – 1 day.
  6. Remove dough from fridge and roll it out in small sections – until it is a thin, even layer.
  7. Use cookie cutter to cut figures and place figures on baking tray.
  8. Cookies take 4-5 minutes to bake.
  9. Let cookies cool – they can be frozen or stored in a sealed container for apprx. 1 month.

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