Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota
Advent is a time in the Christian church year of waiting and anticipating. Hymns are somewhat mournful and quiet, and readings deal not only with the wait for the Christ Child but the end time and the crucifixion. We wait for packages and children to arrive, we wait in line, we wait for bread to rise and for cookie dough to chill. I always seem to need time off from work during Advent to recharge and regroup, and that is what I am doing this week.
Yesterday I made some cookies I have never made before-Nurnberger Lebkuchen and Spekulatius. Both are German cookies. The Lebkuchen are honey cakes, and the Spekulatias are like the Dutch Speculaas windmill cookies. I have been contemplating my German roots lately, and I would call these contemplative cookies, as they turned out weird (the Lebkuchen), and ugly but full of flavor (the Spekulatius). They make me contemplate what people were thinking when they came up with the recipes.
The Lebkuchen sound good in principle. They call for honey, flour, spices, citron, almonds, candied orange peel, and butter, as well as a cup of strong black coffee. The sweet honey and the bitter coffee compete for dominance in the taste. I believe the cakes have to sit for a week and mellow. We will see how they progress by New Years Day. The Spekulatius are made by pressing dough into wooden Speculaas molds, intricate woodcuts of old-fashioned figures and scenes. I don’t have any of the wooden molds, so I used a springerle rolling-pin, which has carvings of hearts and other shapes cut into it.
The cookies look like tiles. The only problem is that the pretty shapes disappeared while baking, and I have these terribly ugly yet great tasting cookies. I know that the honey must preserve the cakes so they last a long time; the wooden molds are lovely and the cookies could be too as long as the decorative imprints don’t disappear. There is something about these recipes that is important to the people who grew up with them. It is interesting how tastes differ from culture to culture.
Today I will make Spritz cookies and pepparkaker. Husband wants to make Krumkake on Sunday, as we are now waiting for a blizzard on Sunday and we expect to be snowbound. The NOAA keeps putting out warnings and advice to stock up and prepare for a terrible storm. They have been warning us for days, and now tell us that we will get between 6-8 inches of snow with very strong winds, while others in the central and eastern parts of the state could get up to 15 inches. It is sunny today, with no wind, which is quite unusual here. It is as though the world is holding its breath. We have been to the grocery store, and husband has filled the bird feeders. Now we wait to see if the predictions come true. I am thankful we are all home and safe, and no one has to go anywhere. The air pressure should drop with the storm, so bread should rise well. Husband has mixed up a rye sour dough starter, and I want to make Julekag and Bremen Klaben. We will need to carb up in order to shovel. For now, though, we wait for Christmas and snow and wind in the unnatural stillness and sunny skies outside.
What are you waiting for?