13 December 2016

St Lucy Buns {dairy-free}

A year ago, I was still coming to grips with Kit being allergic to casein. Our traditional Advent and Christmas baking is chock full of butter, milk, cream cheese, sour cream... and because I was feeling overwhelmed, and most of the few Christmas treats that I did try to adapt to be dairy-free turned out poorly, I more or less stopped trying.

Well, we're still dairy-free around here, but with a year's experience in baking without butter et al, I am ready to tackle all the Christmas things! Well, most of them. The ones that are supposed to taste like butter can wait another year.

I was sad to miss out on St Lucy Buns last year, but with milk, butter, AND sour cream, there was no way I was going to attempt to muddle through them. I was still a little bit nervous last night, waiting and hoping they'd turn out as my dough oh-so-slowly rose, but they are perfect. Light, tender, melt-in-your-mouth rich... Mmmm. :-) So glad to be able to celebrate St Lucy's feast day with these treats from my Nordic roots!

St Lucy Buns/Lussekatter {dairy-free}

3/4 cup milk of choice (I used almondmilk)
pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon + 1/4 cup white sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons nondairy "butter" (I used Earth Balance soy-free)
1/4 cup nondairy plain yogurt (I used coconutmilk yogurt)
2 large eggs + 1 for egg wash

Combine milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Heat to 115 degrees F, and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in yeast and set in a warm place until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, 3 1/2 cups flour, and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the milk mixture, 2 eggs, diced "butter", and yogurt. Combine thoroughly. Knead dough, adding flour a tablespoon at a time as needed until dough is still tacky but doesn't stick all over your hands when you touch it. Shape into a ball and set in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, to rise.

When dough has doubled, divide into 12 equal balls. Roll into snakes and shape into tight Ss. Lay out on a parchment-lined sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap to rise until doubled, about half an hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Beat an egg and brush over the Ss. Stick raisins into S curls. Bake 9 to 10 minutes, turning pan 180 degrees after 4 minutes. Remove from parchment to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

If you aren't dairy-free, the recipe works equally well with cow's milk, butter, and plain yogurt or sour cream.
Coconut oil works in place of the fake butter, but only use 3.5 tablespoons instead of 4.

06 December 2016

Happy feast of St Nicholas!

Today we were hit with my first taste of the "Christmas crazies," with the kids excited far beyond my expectations over the appearance of two playmobil guys and a handful of chocolate gold coins in their shoes. Kit couldn't even eat the chocolate (I couldn't find any that were dairy-free), and she was still just as giddy as her big brother!

We had a fun day, though, and I'm pretty confident (hopeful?) that everyone will be a little calmer tomorrow. We read Mary's Little Donkey this morning, our first Christmas-related book of the year; I hadn't planned on pulling any Christmas books out until Gaudete Sunday, but this one is more about the friendship between Mary and the animals, and then the journey to Bethlehem, rather than focusing most of the storytelling on Christmas Day itself, so it seemed appropriate for Advent. I wish we had a good picture book about St. Nicholas, though; we don't have any stories about him at all, so I told the kids his legend in the car on the way home from the grocery store this morning, but if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to find something to read to them next year!

Who knew that Playmobil made a St Nicholas figure? I found a two-pack at our local toy store of St Nicholas and an angel, which the kids had so. much. fun. playing with today. Kit kept taking "Nichonah"s miter off and bringing it to me to "fix? fix?" Late yesterday evening I got sucked into the time-wasting vortex of exploring Playmobil offerings on Amazon, curious as to whether they had other religious-themed models, and discovered that they actually made a set of St Martin and a beggar, with his horse and his sword and the cloak to cut in half and everything! But apparently it was a very limited release in Germany in 2006, and you can't find any on the internet anywhere anymore. Oh well. The kids are more than happy with what they have!

Our vinyl Shining Light St Nicholas doll, a gift several years ago from my mother-in-law's friend, also made his annual appearance today: I didn't have anything for the adult shoes, but Little Bear was sure that we needed to set our shoes out last night too, so he showed up in Matt's shoe and the informational card about him was in mine this morning. Kit was very happy that there were two "Nichonah"s, dancing them around together, and even carried the Shining Light version with her for her nap. Both St Nicholas's and the angel will hang around, probably popping in and out of nativity scenes, through Epiphany.

I'm not terribly "arts-n-crafts-y," but my sister sent me instructions for candy cane crosiers about a month ago, and I'd been looking forward to trying them for the feast of St Nicholas ever since. After Kit woke up from her nap, she and Little Bear helped me remember how hard it is to unwrap candy canes without breaking them... We finally had enough come out in one piece, though, and they turned out so well! The soft-not-quite-melted candy was hot, though--shocking, I know--so Little Bear couldn't actually help me shape the crosiers, and I was blowing on my fingertips for a while after doing each one. Maybe by next year I'll think of a way that he can help at least a little bit.

How did you celebrate St Nicholas' day?