Tasty Tuesday – baking traditions
Yep, I’ve been working in the kitchen again, and this time it was something really special. Last week, we received a box in the mail with all kinds of birthday goodies for Brook. But… there were also a couple of things for me that I had prepared before we left for Thailand – a cookbook my mom made for me when we got engaged, with a whole bunch of recipes handed down from family (mostly Swedish traditional baked goods!), as well as a set of basic spices I already had back in the States and knew I wouldn’t be able to find here. Among those spices were my bottle of Cardamom, and a small box of Swedish Parlsocker (pearl sugar). As soon as I opened the bag and caught a whiff of those spices, I knew I needed to bake!
The item you are reading about today is a Swedish Cardamom Coffee Cake. My mom has made this every year at Christmas, as long as I can remember, and it always makes the house smell wonderful. Now, the thing is, this bread is supposed to be eaten only during the holidays… but, I don’t care. I needed to make it!
My first round (as those of you who follow me on Facebook already know) didn’t turn out so well. Baking with yeast gets a little tricky here in a tropical climate. It spoils much quicker, is much more temperamental, and needs to be handled very gently. After having my first 2 beautifully braided round loaves turn into doughy, yet flavorful bricks, I did a bit of observation and asking around (yes, my mother) about what could have possibly gone wrong. After all, I’ve made this so many times before – with mom every year growing up, on my own after getting married and living far from my family – and it’s always, always, always turned out. So, after getting mom’s input and speaking to a seasoned missionary (an American who’s been here for 30 years), it was decided that the yeast was the culprit.
Determined, as usual, not to be beat by an item of food or a kitchen appliance, I tried again this evening. I tested my yeast before doing anything else, made sure it proofed properly, then got crackin’ on the dough. Oh, how wonderful the house smelled! I didn’t even care that the oven being on made me sweat like I was in a sauna with double pane, weather-proof, silicone sealed windows! (And, no, I am not exaggerating.) No, it didn’t matter, because my bread rose, braided beautifully, baked perfectly, and can now be shared tomorrow with my fellow language learners and teachers at school. Totally worth it.
Oh yeah, and I win. 🙂