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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Acres

How to Have a Cool Scandi Jul

In Sweden it's 'God Jul'; in Denmark it's 'Glaedelig Jul'; the Finns wish people 'Hyvää Joulua' and an Icelandic Happy Christmas is 'Gleoileg jol.' However you say it, there are lots of traditions across Scandinavia that make Christmas a fun and yet restful time of year.


Christmas for the Nordic nations begins around 13th December with St Lucia Day, a festival of light, and it lasts until 6th January. There are a whole host of mythical creatures that visit homes: children leave slippers by the window for Nisse (Norway and Denmark) or Tomte (Sweden) who mostly leaves treats but can cause mischief! In Iceland Gryla comes down from the mountain looking for extra naughty children to cook - and she brings her 13 Yule Lads with her, who each have peculiar traits like sausage-swiping, yoghurt-gobbling, spoon-licking and candle-stealing!


At the Milk Shed, we won't try to replicate mythical creatures or steal your candles but we will introduce you to some Scandinavian traditions that we think you'll like.

Gingerbread features in Nordic Christmases: in fact, tradition means baking seven different kinds of Christmas cookies or cakes, the most popular being pepperkaker, a crispy gingerbread cookie. Take a look at our recipe below.

In Scandinavia, Christmas Eve is when the main meal is eaten - it's really when most of the action happens, rather than Christmas Day and, generally, it's a buffet-style. 'Julbord' (literally 'Christmas table') - a Christmas Smørgasbord of fish dishes: smoked salmon, pickled herring; ham, sausages, ribs, meatballs and perhaps cabbage and potatoes. At our Christmas market on 3rd December 2022, our food will be themed around the traditional julbord. We'll also be offering glögg and fantastic festive cakes and pastries while you shop and support the small businesses that we'll be hosting. We can't promise Tivoli Gardens at Christmas, but we'll do our best to transform our courtyard into the best impression of a traditional Scandinavian Christmas market!

Pepparkakor Swedish Ginger Thins Recipe










Ingredients:

250 g Butter, salted room temperature

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Ground Cloves

½ Tbsp Ground Ginger

½ Tbsp Freshly Ground Cardamom

180 g Caster Sugar

40 g Golden Syrup

60 g Molasses (Black treacle)

75 ml Water

500 g Plain Flour

1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda


To decorate:

Royal icing

Method

  1. Blend the butter and all the spices in a large bowl.

  2. Heat the sugar, molasses, golden syrup and water until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes and pour over the butter mixture. Cool to room temperature.

  3. Blend the flour and bicarbonate and the stir into the butter and sugar mixture. The mixture is fairly loose but it's now going to be refrigerated for roughly 8 hours, divide into 4 and wrap in clingfilm. This dough can be kept in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to a 3 months.

  4. Oven 190°C fan. Take only a small amount of the dough from the fridge and lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough 2mm thick. Stamp out your shapes with your chosen cookie cutters. With the help of a thin bladed knife, transfer them carefully to lined baking trays. Bake once you’ve filled a tray. Bake the biscuits for 5-6 minutes. They should start to feel hard around the edges as they cool and eventually become really crisp – they need to have a nice ‘snap’. Store in an airtight container for several weeks.

  5. If you would like to ice your biscuits, take 30g of royal icing and add a small water until you have smooth paste that you can pipe with. I make the icing in batches as it begins to harden fairly quickly.


The period between Christmas and New Year has a specific name in Norway:

'Romjul' is a time to cosy up and hibernate with your family. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? It's a time for hygge - and that's exactly what we'll be bringing you during the festive season if you decide to venture out.

We wish you a God Jul and a restful Romjul!


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