Decorative orange filled with cloves

Every year, we invite our friends over for Lucia celebrations which for us means a bit of food, great conversation and lots of cakes & glogg (mulled wine). As many things this year, it was our first Lucia in Boston and our friends where excited to find out what it all meant.

Among our new friends we had someone vegan which mixed with my wheat free needs made it slightly tricky, but not impossible. I really wanted to make as much as possible edible for everyone so that I wouldn’t limit myself or my friend to what we could eat. It was proving slightly harder than usual as the common lucia treats are usually filled with butter, quark or some kind of dairy.

I was also trying out a new brand of spelt flour as this is what I can usually handle. The spelt I found was from Whole foods but was a lot darker and more coarse than I was used to and it didn’t quite hold up in the same way that I was used to with Dove’s spelt flour in London. For the traditional lucia/saffron buns, I found an interesting vegan recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories – I’m a sucker for their website design!
Instead of traditional individual buns, I rolled out the dough as much as I could (it was hard as the dough kept breaking), dolloped out lots and lots of Earth balance vegan butter along with orange zest and almond paste. Swedes are almost as obsessed with almond paste as they are with dairy products and a lot of baking includes it somehow – I have always loved it!

Once all the filling was on the dough, I carefully rolled it up on the longest side and cut them into 3cm thick slices like one does with cinnamon buns. I greased a pie pan and squeezed in all the buns, let it rise again before I brushed all the buns with vegan butter and shoved it in the oven. They came out great, but as mentioned before – a lot crumblier than usual. Obviously still very edible!

Tasty tasty saffron buns

The ginger bread biscuits/cookies were quickly made by rolling out individual balls that were flattened before the oven, instead of rolling out the dough with our cookie cutters. I also took out some coconut kisses from the freezer to fill up the trays on the table.

Something very English that we always have are mince pies. They do not have any mince meat in them (as I first though) anymore but consist of a small pastry case filled with a thick, syrupy mix of dried fruit, diced apples, candied peels and lots and lots of spices and sugar. I didn’t feel like making so many individual pie cases thought so got some filo/phyllo pastry and made mince pie baklava instead which was a great hit. So great that I actually do not have any pictures at all of the finished product!

Mince pie baklava

So I’m sure you have not failed to notice that Christmas is on its way. Last Friday (the 13th) it was Lucia which we always celebrate by inviting  non-Swedes over to our house and plying them with vast quantities of alcohol and nibbles.
This also kick-starts the Christmas celebrations and is usually when I start to prepare for what to bake and eat over the holidays.

So far I have made the gingerbread house above, saffron buns, gingerbread biscuits (the usual when it comes to Lucia celebrations), mince ‘pie’ baklava (English tradition-ish). The celebrations where made slightly more challenging this year as one of my new friends is vegan and I can’t handle wheat. Que to a lot of test baking and realising that the spelt flour I found in Whole foods doesn’t behave at all like the one from Dove’s in England. Sigh.

I made lots and lots of mince pie filling. Still managed to use it all!

It of course worked out just great and everyone was happy at the Lucia evening and we had left-overs for the next week – win win!

Today I started the process of making our own mince pies. I’m calling it a process as I can’t seem to find any candied peels in food shops around us, so I thought I’d make them myself.

I removed most of the white membrane (to make them less bitter) on (organic) orange and lemon peels and cut them into thin stripes. I’ve had them soaking at home during the day (to remove more of the bitterness) and will make a sugar syrup this evening to coat them in. I’m using this recipe from ‘The Shiksa in the Kitchen’ as it sounds quite easy. Will let you know how it turns out!