This morning, Sophia, James, and I...well, really Sophia and I started on our preparations for the Feastday of St. Lucia by baking a big batch of Pepparkakor (wafer-thin Swedish ginger cookies). I am Swedish and my husband is Norwegian, so Lucia Day is quite the event in our house. I look forward to it every year, and I particularly look forward to the day when Sophia, as the oldest girl in our home, can "be" Lucia in a white robe with a red sash and a crown of *electric!* candles on her head and James can follow behind her as a star boy!
For now, we do not have a Lucia procession. We celebrate with fresh baked lussekatter (St. Lucia buns), pepparkakor, the singing of the Lucia Song, and some wonderful stories. I discovered a new resource this year: Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydåker and illustrated by Carina Ståhlberg. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest volume to purchase, but if this is an important day in your family's life and you can get ahold of a reasonably priced copy, I highly recommend it!
Below, I have included my recipe for pepparkakor, taken from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. It makes about 8 dozen cookies, which sounds like a lot, but they are very, very thin and they go fast! They also keep well, but I'm lucky if I have any left by Christmas Eve to leave out for St. Nicholas. The recipe includes a decorating icing, but we do not use it in our home.
For more information about and ideas on how to celebrate St. Lucia's Day, please follow this link to my post from last year.
1 c. softened butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 T grated orange peel
2 T dark corn syrup (I use molasses)
1 T water
3 1/4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves
for icing, if using:
1 egg white
3 to 4 c. powdered sugar
1 t. almond extract
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and beat until light and lemon colored. Stir in the orange peel, syrup, and water. Combine the flour with the soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir into the creamed mixture until a dough forms. Gather into a ball and chill several hours or overnight.
Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease them. Preheat oven to 325F.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place on prepared baking sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until cookies are set but not overly browned. Cool.
Mix the egg white with the powdered sugar and almond extract to make a thin icing. Turn into a pastry bag with a writing tip and press icing onto cookies to decorate.