For someone who doesn’t observe Christmas, the holiday season means another year will come to an end. Like in 2011, I will take a break from blogging until February. It is the darkest period with a few hours decent daylight, which makes photographing impractical. Instead, I will concentrate on recipe developing and, hopefully, come back with a renewed enthusiasm next year.
I would like to thank you for visiting the blog, engaging in conversation via comments and exchanging private letters with me. I appreciate your feedback, and value your encouragement and well-wishes. Although I am a new blogger who is still defining an angle, you have been patient and understanding. I hope, I haven been able to offer something useful to you, too. With these traditional Finnish recipes, I wish you a warm and peaceful Christmas and a happy new year!
Let’s start with joulutorttu (Christmas pastry) that is a palm-size puff-pastry, shaped as a star, flower or half moon. There is usually prune-jam in the middle, but any other preserve that tolerates baking will do, too. For the dough, I’ve used butter, flour and cream. Remember to keep it as cold as possible when rolling out the pastries! If warm, it will be impossible to handle.
As for the instructions of how to shape the pastry as small flowers, please pardon, both, my visual and written aids! Unfortunately I lacked skills in making either of them clear. I guarantee, though, they are easier to make than it looks like. When you come to the point of having many small squares with slits cut on the edges and jam in the centre, you’ll be able to figure out how to fold them properly! Hopefully these instructions will assist.
There isn’t a household in this country that doesn’t serve mulled wine, glögi, during the winter holidays. My non-alcohol version is based on black-currant juice and boosted with orange, lemon, lime, fresh ginger and warming spices. It is just the right thing to enjoy when coming home from a snow storm!
I have already made three batches of piparkakku, gingerbread. I love the combination of ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Sometimes the cookies are made thick and chewy, sometimes thin and crisp. Usually decorated with a mixture of lemon juice and powder sugar, they are as beautiful to look at as to be eaten. I piped mine with white chocolate which is easier but not the best idea considering that chocolate remains soft in room temperature.
I have found that the tastiest gingerbread cookies are made of finely milled wholegrain spelt. I wouldn’t use flour that has a volume of bran, though. All-purpose flour is commonly used.
Here is a simple layout for those of you who would like to make a gingerbread house. If you plan and cut patterns beforehand, you will end up with functional architecture. The pieces are glued together with melted sugar. It’s a process that calls for swift hands! A tip you will like: decorate the pieces before assembling the house!
This is my dream house. Well, except I'd like to have more windows! It would be a small clay rendered straw bale hut that has a loft interior with an open kitchen. Having a hearth, there would always be a faint fragrance of wood and camphor. The ornaments would be made of cow dung! How would your dream house look like?
Stay warm, do good and be satisfied! See you soon, again.
With love, Lakshmi