Monday, December 13, 2010

13th of December - Lucia Day

Today we celebrate Lucia Day in Denmark. This is the day where school children across the country participate in a Lucia Day Procession and bake Lucia bread.

According to legend Lucia was an Italian saint and after she had converted to Christianity, she brought food to her fellow believers. They had to hide from the pagan authorities in underground burial chambers. Lucia placed candles in a wreath on her head so she could carry the food in her hands. The heathen authorities arrested her and she suffered martyrdom on the 13th of December.

The custom of Lucia processions are relatively new and dates from 1928 and originated from Sweden. Maybe my friend Carina, who has just moved to Sweden, could tell a bit more about the Swedish traditions surrounding the celebration of Lucia Day.

In Denmark Lucia is a part of the Christmas celebration even though the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other and the Lucia Day Procession takes place at almost every school,  care home or library and the children participating are dressed in white coats carrying a lit candle between their hands and are lead by the Lucia bride who carries the wreth of candles on her head just like Lucia.

Today I have marked the occasion by baking Lucia bread and of course I'm going to share my lovely recipe with you...

Lucia Bread (makes 12 rolls)

75 grams butter
150 ml milk
25 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon saffron (or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, which I used)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
400 grams all purpose flour

Brushing: 1 whisked egg

Decoration:  raisins

Melt the butter in a pot and add in the milk. Transfer the liquid to a bowl and making sure that it isn't too hot (stick in your little finger, if you're not burned but the liquid is lukewarm, it's ready) crumble in the yeast and let it dissolve. Mix together the saffron (or cardamom) and sugar and stir it into the liquid followed by the rest of the ingredients. Mix the dough together with a spoon and when it's firm cover the bowl with a lid and let it rise somewhere warm  for about half an hour.

Let out the dough onto a flour dusted table top and knead the dough. Split the dough into 12 pieces roll them into sausages and  shape them into an "S". Place them onto a baking sheet and let them rise for another 15 minutes. Brush the rolls with the whisked egg and decorate with rasins.

Bake the roll in the preheated oven at about 225C (437F) for 10-12 minutes until they are golden.

Bon appetit...


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