Month: December 2012

Cupcake the backup dancer to cakes

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My favorite TV serie is the Cupcake wars in which 4 bakers compete to make cupcakes with best taste and presentation. 3 rounds eliminate a contestant. The 2 finalists create a 1000 cupcake display. The winner gets to showcase their cupcake presentation for a major event and win $10,000. That’s what the show about but now I would like to talk about one of the very sympathetic jury member, Candace Nelson, the owner of the Sprinkles cupcake shop.

The creation of the Sprinkles

In 2002 Candace Nelson then 33, and her husband Charles Nelson (from Oklahoma, 38), both investment bankers, visited Candace’s sister in New York and tried the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery(Sex and the city made them famous). Candace believed that it was “time for cupcakes to stop being the backup dancer to cakes” while Nelson remembered, “I get the cupcake thing; cupcakes are awesome. But we were like, ‘The cupcakes aren’t that great. They could be so much better and really could taste a lot better'”. They took it upon themselves to create a better cupcake; over the next two years, they developed over 20 cupcake recipes. Although starting a cupcake bakery was a “high-risk venture” and the bakery business was in a four-year no carb decline, the Nelsons pursued their dream. Their “sleek, minimalistic” store was designed by an architect from Vienna and the logo and packaging were created by a former Martha Stewart employee.

On April 13, 2005, they opened Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery, at Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California. The first day, the cupcakes sold out in three hours, and 2,000 cupcakes were sold the first week.

Since Sprinkles has 10 locations throughout the United States, with plans to open in 15 more cities including London and Tokyo. The Nelsons also started a traveling “Sprinkles mobile“, a Mercedes Sprinter van designed by Sprinkles architect Andrea Lenardin and built by “Pimp My Ride’s” West Coast Customs. In 2007 the company developed a line of cupcake mixes sold exclusively through Sprinkles and Williams-Sonoma stores in the United States and Canada. In February 2011 Sprinkles released an iPhone app that features free cupcakes and virtual gifting.

Celebrity endorsement

Sprinkles has gained many celebrity endorsements. Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Tyra Banks, Katie Holmes, Paris Hilton, Blake Lively, Ryan Seacrest, Tom Cruise and Jake Gyllenhaal are among its customers.

Barbra Streisand was one of Sprinkles’ first customers and introduced Oprah Winfrey to the brand by sending her a box of cupcakes. Only eight months after opening Sprinkles, Charles and Candace received a call from Harpo Studios that Oprah needed 300 cupcakes for her studio audience in Chicago the next morning for Breakfast with Oprah, wherein she showcases her favorite delicacies. The couple managed to catch an overnight flight, and the cupcakes were featured on Oprah’s show. Soon after, sales in their Beverly Hills location increased 50%, to 1,500 cupcakes daily. Sprinkles played a role in Tom Cruise’s courtship of Katie Holmes (well). During the Christmas of 2007, the Cruises sent out boxes of holiday-themed Sprinkles cupcakes to their close friends and associates.


Candace is described as having a “sophisticated” take on the classic cupcake, using ingredients like sweet buttercream, pure Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, and Callebaut chocolate. She also creates offbeat offerings like vegan and gluten-free cupcakes and even dog-food cupcakes (with joghurt). The cupcakes are baked daily and are free from preservatives, trans fats and artificial flavors..

My favorites

My choice might fall on these cakes because of my patriot feelings toward Belgium since most of the major ingredients of Candace’s cupcakes are the Belgian chocolates.

Black and white cupcakes

Sprinkles Black and White cupcakes create a harmonious balance between Belgian dark chocolate cake and creamy vanilla frosting. As the proverb goes, two parts united together give rise to something better!

Chai Latte

You’ve been saving up for an exotic escapade to the Far East where you plan to gaze upon the Taj Mahal while sipping traditional Masala Chai tea. Until your travels take you to India, enjoy a Sprinkles Chai Latte cupcake! This aromatic cake is spiced with a warm blend of cardamom, cloves, anise, ginger and cinnamon and topped with sweet Chai frosting. So colorful and breathtaking, you may have stumbled upon the 8th Wonder of the World!

Chocolate Coconut

Angels add their touch to devil’s food with Sprinkles Chocolate Coconut cupcakes! This sinfully tempting Belgian dark chocolate cake is topped with divine coconut cream cheese frosting and fluffy coconut shreds. A match made in heaven, you’ll travel to the ends of the earth to find one!

Carrot cake

Children may run upon hearing a vegetable has made its way into their cupcake, but do you know the secret? Carrots’ hidden sugar content make them a baker’s ally! This cupcake recipe blends fragrant spices with freshly grated carrots and toasted walnuts. Coated with a generous heap of cinnamon cream cheese frosting, you might even convince the kids to eat their vegetables!

Christmas is a great opportunity to give a try for them! Enjoy!

Hungarian layered potato

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The layered potato is called in French Pommes Parmentier which is 1 cm diced cubed potatoes fried in butter (bacon, onions garlic or herbs can be added) but see the distinguish Hungarian version below.

kukta 002Ingredients:

6 middle sized potatoes, 4 hard boiled eggs, 1 extra egg, 300 grams Hungarian sausage, sour cream (tejföl in Hungarian), chopped parsley, 1 tbs butter or oil 

Cook potatoes in their skin, then peel them and dice into one centimeter rind. Prepare hardboiled eggs. Get rid of the skins. Cut them into nice slices. Butter a fire-proof dish, arrange layers of potatoes, eggs, and the Hungarian sausage (sliced up). Mix sour cream and egg, stir them well together. Sprinkle the layers with the mixture, scatter with some grated cheese on the top (optional).

Hungarian Tejföl is similar to sour cream but its cooking properties are different from crème fraîche. The lighter sour creams sold in the U.S. I love it!

My sweet Christmas plätzchen baking time in Germany

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Brigitte & Catherine 286In Germany when the first candle is lit on the Advent wreath is a signal that the plätzchen season may begin. For that reason I was invited to a hot chocolate and of course plätzchen tasting afternoon. When I entered Evelyn’s house I was immediately hit by the delicate fragrance of the cinnamon, clove, orange and ginger. However her cookie trays had already been loaded with different sort of plätzchen, Evelyn was still busy making more with full speed. Meanwhile we, others were having fun and also assisted for her in the kitchen, soon we realized that, that our conversation had diverted to old Christmases. So in this way I had learned that, that the plätzchen baking is such a big tradition in Germany and it creates a kind of competition between women. They want to know each year who can bake a superfine, delicious plätzchen in their neighborhood. And it’s also an excellent opportunity for sharing recipes, to reveal someone’s family secret etc.

Brigitte & Catherine 285
At the hairdresser, doctor’s office, on TV, and I don’t exaggerate, but everybody talks about what kind of cookie we shall bake today? Cinnamon stars, vanilla rolls, coconut macarons, ginger cookies, or jellied-orange flavored biscuits? And what is it if somebody instead of the superior plätzchen votes for the poor in calory biscuit. Well, nothing happens, because the plätzchen and the biscuits are roughly the same. They differ only in their names and the content of its calories.
The origin of the word plätzchen and biscuits

The German word plätzchen originates from the Latin placental, means bread. The Germans took over this expression from the Romans, and in Germany still today all sort of bread which is made with yeast is called platz or with diminutive plätzchen. 

In the 19th century in Germany, coffee and tea consumption with delicious, small cookies alongside were aproved by the church only on the red-letter’s day, otherwise during the year it was forbidden. Probably because they thought the high sugar content cakes didn’t make any good to people, but in wintertime, when it was very cold everyone needed calories so to consume the plätzchen was not a sin. Thus the cult had begun, baking cookies during Advent time, one month ahead of Christmas till Christmas Eve. Thanks to this tradition people found out many new recipes and in the course of the years the plätzchen had been enriched with new ingredients such as marzipan, chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, jam etc

Platzchen 021The origin of the biscuits 

About the origin of the biscuits: many early physicians believed that most medical problems were associated with digestion. Hence, for sustenance and health, eating a biscuit daily was considered good for one’s health. The bakers of the time made biscuits as hard as possible (so that it would stay intact for years if it was kept dry) as the biscuits would soften and be more palatable with time due to exposure to humidity and other weather elements.

To soften, it was often dunked in brine, coffee, wine or some other liquid or cooked into a skillet meal. For long voyages biscuits was baked four times, rather than the more common two, and prepared six months before sailing. The more refined so called Captain’s biscuit or English biscuit was made with finer flour and it was slightly sweetened but didn’t contain chocolate, or seeds than the plätzchen. In the 19th century a German business man was so fancied with the idea that he copied the English model and began to manufacture the biscuit on the German name “keks“.

One surprise after the other one

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2012. december 8 006Talking about parties & menus before Christmas

The ideal party when all guests feel themselves at home. We may achieve this for example with an abundant choice. My suggestion is the next excellent dinner what is ready at a glance.

Starters:   Espuma of celery with truffle oil

                Goose liver terrine créme brulée

                Prawn with lemon mellisse

Main course:Tajine of duck with fresh figues, with ginger and green pepper

Dessert:  Hazelnut cream with gold leaves

Espuma of celery and truffle oil

Espuma (vanilla foam) with mint

Ingredients: half of a celery, 1 chicken stock, 30 cl milk, 30 cl cream, 2 teaspoons truffle oil, salt and pepper you can prepare cream one day ahead.

Directons: 1. Peel the celery and cut into cubes. Let it cook for 15 minutes in the chicken broth. Purée with a blender or food processor, add milk and cream to it. Salt and pepper. 2. Pour over truffle oil. Spoon mixture into the professional creative whip maker. Screw on the iSi cream charger with the charger holder and shake it vigorously. 3. Cool cream in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Espuma is ready for dispensing after the cooling time. 4. Press celery cream into nice glasses. Gild with shaved truffle pieces.

Wine suggestion: Crémant Alsace Bru 2002

Goose liver terrine créme brulée

Ingredients: 6 egg yolks, 50 gr sugar, 40 cl cream, 4 chestnut (candid), 1 gooseliver terrine, pepper and salt

Directions: 1. Preheat the oven for 150 grades. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until stiff. Add cream to egg. Flavor with salt and pepper. 2. Cut 3 chestnuts into four, slice the goose liver terrine, place into small baking forms, bestrew them with candid chestnut. 3. Pour egg mixture over goose liver portions and place the baking forms into the oven for 10 minutes. When it’s ready adorn with shredded chestnut. You can consume it cold or warm.

Tiger prawn with lemon melisse

Ingredients: 2 lbs large raw tiger shrimp (18), in their shells, thawed if frozen, 1/2 cup butter, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 6 garlic cloves, smashed, 2 limes, juice and zest of 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped warm tortilla, to serve, lemon slice, lemon melisse, for the finger bowls

Directions: 1. Chop the onion and cut the melisse fine, salt and pepper. Put into a blender squeeze some lemon over it and make a pesto. Put aside. Rinse the prawns in a colander, remove their heads and leave them to drain. 2. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and fry over a low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. 3. Add the lime rind and juice. 4. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or more. 5. Add the prawns and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn pink. 6. Remove them from the heat, sprinkle with coriander and serve with the warm tortillas and the melisse pesto. (Give each guest a finger bowl filled with water and a slice of lemon, for cleaning their fingers after shelling the prawns, and provide also of paper napkins).

Tajine of the duck with fresh figues, ginger and green pepper

Ingredients: 8 small potatoes, 6 fresh figues, 15 cl ginger syrup, 30 gr green peper, 2 duck filets, pepper and salt

Directions: 1. Cook the peeled potatoes for 15 minutes until tender. Wash the figues and cut into four. Place figues into a casserole, pour over ginger syrup, and let it cook for 15 minutes. Stir it time to time in order to protect from burning. Season with green pepper. 2. Prepare the duck. Salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes in a bit of butter on high temperature. Reduce heat (onto medium temperature), flavor duck with thyme and let it simmer for two more minutes. Slice filets nicely. Place them onto figues with the juice, season with salt and pepper and arrange potatoes nicely on the plate.

Wine: Clos de la Grande Boissiere 2001

Espuma made from green tea

Hazelnut parfait with gold leaves

20 minutes+4 hours rest

Ingredients: 4 egg yolks, 50 gr sugar, 5 gr vanilla sugar, 20 cl milk, 13 cl cream, 100 gr nuts, decorate with 4 leaves of gold

Directions:1. Beat eggs with sugar and with vanilla sugar until stiff. Heat the milk and the cream together, add egg mixture. 2. Cook everything together on medium heat until dense. When it’s ready place into deep freezer. 3. Take cream off from the freezer and put into blender. Add grated nuts to crunchy cream. When it’s ready divide cream into glasses and keep in the fridge until serving.

Wine: Santa Carolina 1996 Late Harvest

There is no week without chicory!

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My first encounter with the chicory happened in the canteen of the Catholic University Leuven (Belgium). I selected it accidentaly from the menu offer because it looked like a steamed vegetable. But when I tasted it my face turned bitter because of its bitter taste. I didn’t like it at all! But then about one year later when I was offered a curry flavored chicory soup on a wedding reception, it tasted so good, so I asked for the recipe. And well that was I think the turning point and after that event I became suddenly addicted to the chicory.

In 2000 I visited a chicory farm near Antwerp, Belgium (Schaerbeek). It was a very interesting “tour” and at the same time very instructive. In the farm, the Belgian chicories were grown completely underground and indoors but the most important thing was in the absence of sunlight to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up. Our guide explained it, that the plant has to be kept just below the soil surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves. That’s why chicory is often sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from light and so preserve its pale colour and delicate flavour. I had the opportuntity to examine the plant closely, I touched the small cream-coloured heads, and tasted the bitter but succulent raw leaves. I liked the welcome chicory salad with mustard and vinegar dressing and enriched with fois gras very much (see the recipe below). To sum my stories up since that visit there is no week without chicory. I also invented a few of my own chicory recipes. I have to say- without blowing my own trumpet- that who tastes my chicory-caramelized in porto wine and flavored with curry- will be as passionate chicory fan as me.

Culinary use

The chicory is also known as blue sailors, succory, coffeeweed, “cornflower”, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf and witloof or witlof- (by the way it has a beautiful blue flower, no wonder that it is often seen as inspiration for the Romantic concept). In the past, Medieval monks started to raise the plants and when coffee was introduced to Europe, the Dutch thought that chicory made a lively addition to the bean drink. And they were right because chicory soon had become a coffee substitute (my grandma also prepared coffee from it). In the course of the centuries their bitterness started to be appreciated in certain cuisines, such as in the Liguria and Puglia regions of Italy and also in Catalonia (Spain), in Greece and in Turkey. In the Ligurian cuisine the wild chicory leaves are an ingredient of the dish preboggion and in Greek cuisine of the horta.
In the Puglian region wild chicory leaves are combined with fava bean puree in the traditional local dish called Fave e Cicorie Selvatiche. In Rome puntarelle is a favorite dish made with chicory sprouts.
How to cook: By cooking and discarding the water the bitterness is reduced, after which the chicory leaves may be sauteed with garlic, anchovies and other ingredients. In this form the resulting greens might be combined accompany meat dishes. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed with minced meat, baked in butter, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw. The tender leaves are slightly bitter; the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The most important that the harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking in order to prevent bitterness! And there is one more secret, add a pinch of sugar while cooking.

Karacsony2010 052Chicory appetizer with goose liver

Ingredients: 4 chicory sprouts, sugar or stevia, 2 tbs of rapsberry vinegar, salt and pepper, 100 gr smoked duck filet without skin, 50 gr of goose liver, créme brulée torch

Direction: Trim away the stalk ends of the chicory, discard any limp or tired outer leaves, then strip into leaves. Bestrew the outer leaves with sugar then caramelized under a broiler/salamander or with a blow torch until crisp. Cut the rest of the chicory fine and flavor with salt and pepper. Pour over raspberry vinegair. Chop the duck filets very fine and make creamy the goose liver with a fork. Place liver and finely chopped duck filets onto caramelized chicory leaves. Serve it with fresh baguette. Excellent starter for the festive season!

Soatéed chicory with or without ham

Ingredients: Large heads of chicory, 80g butter, 6 tablespoons fine, white fresh breadcrumbs, 2 large cloves of garlic, squashed flat but not peeled, 1 small lemon, 5 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Trim the heads of chicory, cutting off imperfect leaves and trimming the root. Slice each head in half from root to tip.Warm the butter in a casserole dish over a moderate flame, then place the halved chicory in it cut side up so that it sits snugly inside. Tuck in the garlic. Let both chicory and garlic colour slightly in the hot butter, then turn them over. Cover with a lid and leave to cook slowly in the butter. Take care that the chicory does not colour too quickly. Once the underside turns pale gold, squeeze over the lemon, then scatter the crumbs and grated parmesan evenly over the top. Transfer, still covered, to an oven preheated 190 degrees and bake for around 30 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve hot, as a side dish.

Chicory with curry

4-6 chicory, halved, or quartered if large, 50g butter, splash of dry white wine, 150ml vegetable stock, hot, 2 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley, 2 teaspoons curry

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Place the chicory, cut-side up, in an ovenproof dish. Dot all over with the butter and splash over the wine and stock.

2. Season with black pepper and with lots of curry then cover with foil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes until really tender. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

It makes excellent sidedish (with lam, duck or chicken)

Stuffed guinea-fowl with in porto wine caramelized chicory

Ingredients: 1 guinea fowl, 4-6 chicories, porto wine, bay leaf, thyme, 1 chicken bouillon, 5-6 cloves or grounded

for the filling: two slices of bread, or bread crumbs, cream cheese, Philadelphia, 1 onion, chopped parsley, 150 gr chicken liver (optional), 1 egg

First prepare stuffing. Mix bread crumb with the egg, the finely chopped onion, chicken liver, cream cheese and season with parsley. Put it in the food processor and blend well. Season the guinea fowl with salt and pepper. Loosen the skin and place the stuffing in the cavity. Secure the edges with kitchen string and sauté bird in melted butter, initially over high heat then lower. Season and turn guinea fowl as you do so. After twenty minutes add chicories (cut in quarters) and pour over 300 ml of porto wine. Add bay leaf, cloves and simmer chicory in the fat of the bird. After about 25 minutes when the guinea fowl is tender prepare potato purée and serve with it.

100 % Swedish

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Candle light and festive white color on the evening of St LucyFFB 052

Children count the days impatiently from the first of December until Xmas. Luckily the mornings are sweetened by the little chocos (getting from their Advent calendars) but probably to lighten the awaiting time (specially for the children) the day of St Lucy was invented, which happened to fall out on the 13th of December.

According to the Gregorian calendar that day was regarded as the shortest and darkest day of the year. So it was almost necessary to invent something in order to dispel the darkness. Thus St Lucy’s day was born. But how did it become one of the few saint church feast days observed in Scandinavia? They took over from the Italians (Santa Lucia- luce means light in Italian) and nowadays Sweds celebrate the day with such a remarkable enthusiasm, surpassing any Italian festivities devoted to the same lady: In Scandinavia on the St Lucy’s day a procession is headed by one young girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each. (St Lucy or Lucia, Luca’s day is also celebrated in other Scandinavian countries and as well as in Italy, Hungary, Bavaria, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Lucia etc).

FFB 047Glögg punch for adults, grape juice for children, both enriched with winter spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. The celebration of St Lucy’s day begins with story telling for the kids in a comfy nook of the house then on the late afternoon all the rooms are lightened with candles and the culinar part of the day starts with the Swedish buffet: Roasted herring, self made bread, Schnaps, Advent ham, covered with roughly grated cloves, salmon carpaccio with horseradish just a few delicacies among the excellent dishes. The table is decorated with sylvan branches, wild plants (are found in the forest), candles, pineals, wreath, windlights, palmsprigs, small reindeers (made of wood) are also highlight the day.

garden fest 030On the buffet table

Cream soup with smoked Shellfish

Ingredients: 1 onion, 30 gr butter, 300 ml fish broth, 350 gr smoked shellfish, 200 ml milk, 200 ml cream, pepper and dill

Chop the onion fine, soaté in the butter. Add fish fond, 150 gr shellfish to it then pour over milk and cream. 10 minutes to cook. Purée soup in a blender, flavor with pepper. Scoop soup into glasses, add rest of the shellfish cut into small pieces and scatter some dill on top.

Marinated salmon and St Jacob scallops

(prep time 20 minutes), ingredients: 400 gr marinated salmon (mustard, honey and dill), 4 big scallops, salt and pepper

1 Granny Smith apple, 100 gr celery, peeled, 2 tbsp sunflower oil, 1,5 dl hazelnut oil, 3 tbs sherry vinegar, one pinch of brown sugar

1. Cut the salmon into four slices, wash the scallops thoroughly. Salt and pepper. 2. Peel the Granny Smith apple and the celery, chop them finelly, mix the sherry vinegar with arachide and hazelnut oil, salt and pepper to taste and add a pinch of sugar. Pour oil and vinegar mixture over vegetables.

3. Cook scallops in the butter for 2 minutes on each sides. Serve with the marinated salmon and with the vegetables. Offer some wine such as Sancerre 2001.

Tunefish with beetroot and califlower espuma

Prep time 1 hour and 24 hours rest

Ingredients: 500 gr tunefish filet cut in four, salt, pepper and sesame seeds

For the carpaccio: 2 beetroots (cooked), juice of one lemon, juice of one orange, 200 gr grape oil, 1 pinch of brown sugar, salt and pepper

for the cauliflower espuma: half of a cauliflower, 200 gr milk, 3 oysters, 1,5 dl sour cream, pepper and salt

Shred the beetroot into very fine slices. Squeeze lemon and orange juice, add the oil of the grape, sugar, pepper and salt to dressing. Pour over beetroot. Keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

Cook the cauliflower in milk and a half chicken stock. Add 3 oysters to vegetable and pour over the sour cream. Salt and pepper. The mixture must have a thick consistency! Season with nutmeg and pour into creative whip machine. Before serving shake it vigorously. Cool for at least two hours. (You can serve in a glass as a vegetable dip).

Cook tune fish for three minutes on each sides add salt and sesame seeds. Serve the tunefish on the beetroot carpaccio and alongside with the oyster cauliflower espuma.

Nymphenburg Verdi 021Swedish advent bread

Ingredients: 400 gr rye flour, 100 gr carrot syrup, half liter of water, 75 gr butter, 75 gr yeast, 1 tbsp anis, 1 tbs carraway seeds, 1 tbs fennel seed, 550 gr flour (Type 550), 50 gr figues, 75 gr raisins…

Melt butter, pour over half liter of water and carrot syrup. Pour this over rye flour. Dough batter with hands. Put yeast in 100 ml water. Mix the two different flours, flavor them with the spices, add yeast and water mixture to batter. Chop figues, cut raisins and add to batter. Divide dough in two portions. Let them stand for 1 hour. Heat the oven for 190 grades, place batters on baking sheet and let them bake for 50-60 minutes. Wait until cool.

Saffron bun

In the Lucia procession the oldest daughter brings coffee and the St. Lucia buns (flavored with saffron) to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter can wear the candle-wreath.

In Swedish the bun is called lussebulle or lussekat (Lucia’s cat) and it is a rich yeast-leavened sweet bun. The Swedish saffron bun is not flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg as the Italian Lucia’s cat, and there is also an other difference: in the Swedish bun raisins are used instead of currants. The buns are baked into many  shapes, of which the simplest is a reversed S-shape. They are traditionally eaten especially on December 13th (and also during Advent)

Ingredients: 300 ml milk, 1 g saffron, 50 g baker’s yeast, 150 g sugar, 125 g butter or 125 g margarine, 700 g all-purpose flour, 1 egg, salt, raisins

Melt butter or margarine in a pan and add the milk and the saffron. Warm the mixture to 37 C (100 F). The correct temperature is important! Use a thermometer! Pour the mixture over the finely divided yeast; then add the remaining ingredients (except for the egg and the raisins), which should have a temperature of 21-23 C (72-75 F). Mix into a smooth dough. Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes. Knead the dough, divide it into 25-30 pieces and form each piece into a round bun. Let the buns rest for a few minutes, covered by a piece of cloth. Form each bun into a string, 15-20 cm long then arrange the string in a suitable shape, e.g. an S or double S. Regardless of the shape, the ends of the string should meet. Press a few raisins into the dough. Cover the “Lucia cats” with a piece of cloth and let them rise for 40 minutes. Whip the egg together with a few grains of salt, and paint the “Lucia cats” with the mixture. Bake them for 5-10 minutes in the oven at 250 C (475 F) until golden brownish yellow.