Thursday, December 13, 2007

Feasts: St. Lucy's Day

Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.
– St. Lucy
We've become greatly enamored of St. Lucy this year -- including her in our nightly prayers and generally knowing lots about her -- primarily because a little 5 year-old boy we know has macular degeneration and we invoke St. Lucy, the patron of eyes and eye problems, in his name.
Today, for "cooking math" we included St. Lucia Ginger Snaps and St. Lucia Crowns (we made 8 individual ones -- since Brikhead made it home safely!) and generally enjoyed the lovely smells of St. Lucy Day baking.
Here are the recipes we used:

Swedish St. Lucy Ginger Snaps (LuciaPepperkakor)
From A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year by Evelyn Birge Vitz

Ingredients for Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsps ground ginger
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbls baking soda
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6-7 cups flour

Heat the corn syrup in a saucepan. Stir in the sugar, molasses, ginger, lemon rind, and baking soda.
In a large bowl, whip the cream until almost stiff.
Stir the syrup mixture gradually into the cream. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer for 4 to 5 minutes (about twice as long if you’re doing by a hand using a whisk or spoon). Add 4 cups of the flour, mixing well with a spoon. Then gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft, pliable dough.
Knead dough for 2 or 3 minutes.
Wrap the dough well in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut with fancy cutters, such as animals and people; or just slice 1/4 inch thick rounds (and call them "eyes"!).
Place the cookies on a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.
Ice when cool.

Ingredients for icing:
White of an egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Beat the white until frothy. Add 1 cup sugar and lemon juice. If the icing is too thick, add more lemon juice, if too thin, add more sugar. Can be colored with food coloring.
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Santa Lucia Crown
From: Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf

Crown Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp saffron powder (yes, it's VERY expensive, but adds so very much!)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg for brushing on rolls just before baking

Pour half the warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast; stir until dissolved. Add remaining water, warm milk, sugar, butter, salt, saffron and half the flour; blend well. Sit in 2 eggs and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
Punch down down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; reserve 1/3 of dought for top of crown. Divide remaining dough into 3 equal pieces; roll each into a rope. Braid ropes. Place braid on greased baking sheet. Form into a circle, pinching ends together to seal.
Make top braid with reserved dough. Cover braids with cloth. Let both braids rise till double – about an hour.
Lightly beat an egg and brush on braids.
Bake in 375 over for 15 minutes for smaller braid, 25 minutes for larger (cover larger braid with foil for last 10 minutes of baking to avoid darkening).
Let cool on wire racks.

Icing Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Red and green glace/candied cherries (optional)
Make icing by mixing powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Using icing as “glue” place smaller braid atop larger braid. Drizzle icing over all. Decorate with glace cherries if desired.
Serves 12

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