We don’t really do Christmas at our house, but we’re increasingly falling in love with family traditions which happen to occur on/around Christmas day. For me, Christmas is intrinsically linked with mangoes (I grew up in sunny QLD) and playing cricket – for at least 6 hours with all the surrounding neighbours. For Anton, it’s making a hell of lot of pepparkakor biscuits. Anton’s family is half Swedish and adopted this tradition from his dad’s mob. It’s a simple biscuit which reminds me of ginger biscuits, but it is its own thing and the best part is that you ALWAYS make them in the shape of love hearts. So naturally I think they’re the best biscuit ever.
When I ask Anton what his earliest memory of pepparkakor is – he simply says that they were always there (around Christmas). It marked that time of the year – summer, Christmas and pepparkakor all go together. Every year Ros (his mum) would make (and still does) a major batch of this tasty treats to snack on over the festive season. There’s something really wonderful about these traditions that are passed down between generations, across continents and cultures. It’s a special way of keeping age old skills and stories alive. Love that.
When I had my first Christmas with Anton’s family there was constantly a full bowl of pepparkakor on the table for the week leading up to the big day and after, if we hadn’t eaten them all. They don’t just make a dozen or so, they make hundreds – it’s quite impressive – all those edible love hearts – here’s a recipe straight from Ros to the world…
Pepparkakor Recipe: Enough to make 300
FYI there are two things you need to know about this Swedish recipe:
1) 1deciliter (dl) = around a third of cup
2) Ros says you should go easy on the flour at first as it’s easy to add it later and a nuisance if you add too much.
- 100g butter
- 3dl thick cream
- 3dl golden syrup or treacle (maple syrup s too runny)
- 2 1/2dl brown sugar
- 2 1/2dl white sugar
- 2tbsp cinnamon
- 1tbsp ginger powder
- 1/2tbsp ground cloves
- cardemum to taste – a few pinches
- 2 to 2 1/2 litres of plain flour
- 2tbsp carb soda
- Warm butter until it’s melted
- Stir well and add whipped cream, white sugar, brown sugar, syrup and spices.
- Stir well for about 15-20 minutes.
- Mix the bicarb with a bit of flour – add flour until right consistency and save rest of the flour for later.
- Cover and leave overnight. We actually left ours for a week while we renovated the kitchen and came back to it later
- Roll the dough out super thin and get your love heart on in a major way to cut out a few hundred of them
- Lay out in trays and bake in “good oven temperature” around 220, as long as it’s HOT. We do around 210 degrees in our oven.
They only take around 5 minutes to cook, so you have to hang around and get a major production chain going on with one person making them and one person popping them in and out of the oven.
The kitchen is a source of so many traditions, useful skills and family stories. I love learning and integrating new traditions into my life that have such a long lineage and which also happen to taste super fine.
Happy Festive Season to you all, may it be lined with traditions from long ago or which you’re creating right now and may they be ones which please your head, heart, hands and belly. XX