We spent the Luciadagen weekend in Stockholm checking out the city a little bit more and to learn some Swedish Christmas baking secrets from Catherine’s colleague Per. We arrived around 10:30 and spent a couple hours walking around Gamla Stan (old city) and checking out the Jul Marknad (Christmas Market). The sun even made an appearance, which if you’ve been following along is quite the rare occurrence these days.
Per made us a traditional Swedish lunch of kale soup with eggs and knäckebröd and then we got down to business of baking. Per had already prepared the pepparkakor dough using his aunt’s secret recipe. So “all” Catherine and I needed to do was roll out the dough and cut into shapes. The challenge is that the best pepparkakor is made very thin and cutting the shapes and getting them off of the counter top without mangling the cookie is difficult. But after the first tray we started to get the hang of it and the cookies turned out great. We made a variety of shapes, but mostly the simpler ones worked best like circles, hearts, and diamonds, although Catherine made lots of pigs as well. Pigs may seem like a strange shape for Christmas cookies, but Swedes eat pork for Christmas dinner and have a little sense of humour about it so it’s not an uncommon shape. But Christmas trees, Santas and angels not so popular in the Swedish cookie shaping. Per was impressed, and happy that he didn’t have to roll out all the cookies himself this year.
While we were rolling and cutting Per was busy preparing two other Swedish Christmas specialties: Knäck and Chocklad-kola also made with secret family recipes. Knäck is a traditional hard Swedish toffee and Chocklad-kola is a softer dark toffee.
We had a great time learning to make three new treats – and sampling wasn’t too bad either! If you’ve been good (and if Canada Customs doesn’t decide to confiscate our unlabelled baking), Tomten may just bring you some of these treats as a julklappen.