I'm delighted to be kicking off our Christmas Week festivities here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!
My earliest memories of Christmas are not of decorations and gifts. Not even the Christmas Eve dinner of Lute fisk (the white fish cured in lye) with white cream sauce and boiled potatoes. Very traditional for this Swede-Finn family. Believe me, it was an acquired taste. It took me into my teens to finally appreciate it while my older sister still hasn't caught the bug.
My earliest, and fondest memory, is of my dad waking me up at the raw, dark hour of 5 AM on Christmas morning, bringing a cup of black coffee and slices of warm Swedish Coffee Bread to my bedside. (I started drinking coffee at a very early age -- we won't go there!).
That Swedish Coffee Bread sums up Christmas to me. It was baked with love and cardamon seed; served with joy and anticipation; and is something that could always be counted on. In preparing to bake, I don one of Mom's aprons, turn on the Nutracker CDs, and use her mortar and pestle for the cardamon seeds.
I've continued the tradition after the passing of my mom, and was most delighted to note that my grand-niece, Sarah Coughlin has her own version going in Nova Scotia. Well, actually, she got the recipe from my sister who thinks it was Mom's. A different version. A mystery! Sarah is a professional baker and she pulls off the most amazing taste treats. Her recipe calls this a Finnish Cardamon Braid and it looked fabulous when she posted it on Facebook earlier this week.
So, I thought I'd give it a try but I have done a couple of changes in keeping with the recipe I usually use. The other one from Mom. J
What you need:
6 1/2 c. pre-sifted all purpose flour
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 c. warm water (about 110F)
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 tbsp. milk
What to do:
1. Measure flour and pack lightly in a measuring cup. In a large bowl, pour 2 c. warm water and then sprinkle in the 2 packages of yeast. Let stand 3-5 minutes, or until the yeast blooms.
2. Stir in the cardamom, 1 egg, 1/3 c. sugar, salt, milk, butter and about half the flour. Blend well with a wooden spoon until it becomes smooth and elastic. Gradually add remaining flour and continue stirring until soft and blended.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and satiny feeling. Place in a greased bowl, turning it over to grease the top. Cover and set in warm place to rise until about doubled in volume (about 1 hour).
4. Punch down, then turn out onto a lightly floured board, and knead until free of bubbles.
5. Divide into six equal portions or ropes about 1 inch wide. Roll each rope between your hands to make long strands, about 14 inches in length. Using 3 at a time, make 2 braids. Cover and let rise in warm place until puffy, about 30 min.
6. Brush with remaining egg, lightly beaten. Sprinkle with sugar, as much as you desire.
7. Bake in moderate oven (375F) for 20-25 min. or until richly browned. Cool on wire racks before slicing.
No need to say this, but enjoy! (I like mine with an espresso each morning.)
MY CHRISTMAS TREAT FOR YOU IS A SIGNED COPY OF TOASTING UP TROUBLE. JUST LEAVE A COMMENT, ALONG WITH A CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS, BEFORE SATURDAY MORNING TO BE INCLUDED IN THE DRAW!
The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.
Book #2, ROUX THE DAY, is coming in March, 2017!
Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
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Also appearing at www.killercharacters.com
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and on Twitter @erika_chase.