Wherein Our Heroine May Stuff Herself Silly if She's not Careful.

I spent a significant portion of yesterday making English Toffee. I think there have only been one or two Christmases in my life when I have not had English Toffee. There's nothing really inherently Christmassy about it, except for the fact that it needs to be cold outside so you can get it to set (yeah you could use the fridge, but I'm not sure any candy is worth a sky-high utility bill). The smell of melting chocolate and caramelizing butter and sugar, together with evergreen, is definitely a Christmas smell for me, as my mother made English Toffee every year at Christmas when I was growing up. At some point, she handed the task off to me, and despite only making this at one time every year, it is something I can practically do in my sleep.

Julekage is a Scandinavian tradition, but one that has fallen by the wayside in recent years. John has expressed an interest in learning how to make it (and considering the amount of kneading it requires, two bakers are a good idea). I learned to make julekage from my Norwegian grandmother Erna, known as "Gramie" to her granddaughters. She claimed that I didn't need to learn the recipe by doing it with her: everything I needed to know was on her recipe card, but I insisted on making a batch with her, to get the feel of the dough, the timing and the rhythm of the rising. As she gathered ingredients and tools, I sat down to copy the recipe off of her card. "Gramie," I said after a few moments, "Yulekage does have flour in it, doesn't it?"

"Yes - eleven cups!"

"Well, it's not on the card."

I know that when we make julekage this year, I will still hear the delighted hoot of Gramie's laughter.

Posted: Friday - December 10, 2004 at 10:01 AM         | |