Day 5: Cranberry tart from Brenda Langton.
Day 4: Hearty, healthful entrees from Jenny Breen.
Day 3: Corn chowder from Atina Diffley.
Day 2: Swedish pancakes from Helene Henderson.
Day 1: Sweet potato and walnut salad from Beth Dooley.
Holiday recipes from Beatrice Ojakangas (from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book)
|Joulutortut. Image from cartinafinland.fi.|
Traditionally in Finland, holiday baked goods are not served until Christmas Eve or, at the earliest, the eve of Christmas Eve. That's when these prune-filled stars come out, signaling the beginning of the Christmas holidays. The day after Christmas is a day for visiting and comparing the quality of the stars from one household to the next! Each baker has his or her own favorite recipe, varying from a flaky puff pastry to a rich and tender butter pastry like this one.
Makes 36 stars.
2 cups (8 ounces) pitted prunes
water to cover
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
1 cup softened butter
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons milk
pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes for garnish
Cover the prunes with water and simmer slowly until very soft. Puree and add the lemon juice and sugar. Cool.
For the pastry, mix the flour and baking powder. Stir into the whipped cream and knead in the softened butter. Shape dough into a ball and chill one hour.
Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease them. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
OLD DANISH CHRISTMAS KRINGLE (DANSK SMOREKRINGLE)
This legendary pastry symbolizes Danish hygge, or the "comfortable and good" life. It is always served at Christmas and Easter, as well as on special occasions and anniversaries. Although Danes use any fruit or nut filling in a kringle, almond filling is the favorite.
Makes 1 large kringle
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit
1/4 cup undiluted evaporated milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly pulverized cardamom seeds
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup, about 1/2 pound, almond paste
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 (12-ounce) package pitted prunes
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup red port wine
Glaze and Topping:
1 slightly beaten egg white
pearl sugar or coarsely crushed sugar cubes or granulated sugar
In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk, cardamom, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and whipping cream. Set aside.
In a large bowl, or in the work bowl of a food processor with the steel blade in place, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter until butter pieces are the size of kidney beans or process. Add the yeast mixture, mixing only until dry ingredients are moistened. Cover with plastric wrap and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the fillings and have them ready.
To make the raisin-almond filling, bring water to a boil; add the raisins, let stand 5 minutes, and drain. Cool.
In a bowl, cream the butter until soft, and add the cardamom, powdered sugar, and enough cream to make a smooth, spreadable mixture. Add the raisins and chopped almonds.
To make the almond filling, break almond paste into pieces and blend with the almonds, powdered sugar, egg white, and almond extract to make a smooth paste. (This may be easiest to accomplish in the food processor.)
To make the prune-port filling, cook the prunes in water to cover until tender. Mash. Add the sugar and mix until dissolved. Stir in the port. Return to the pan and simmer until mixture is thick, about 5 minutes.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured board, and dust with flour. Using a rolling pin, pound dough until smooth and about 3/4-inch thick. Roll out to make a 24-inch square. Fold dough into thirds to make a long and narrow strip. With rolling pin, roll again until about 1/4-inch thick and about 36 inches long.
Spread the length of the roll up to 1 inch in from the edges with the filling. Roll up from the long side, enclosing the filling. Brush roll with egg white, then roll in sugar.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease and flour the sheet. Place the roll on the baking sheet in the shape of a large pretzel. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. It will not double. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brush kringle again with egg white and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book (1999; winner of the James Beard Foundation award) and Great Whole Grain Breads (1993). Her articles have appeared in Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Cuisine, and Redbook, and she has appeared on television’s Baking with Julia Child. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.