Friday, December 24, 2010

Soft Gingerbread “Mjuk Pepparkaka” and Swedish Christmas Eve “Julafton”

So at last it had come around, the most longed-for day of the year, Christmas Eve! Every Swede has a Christmas Tradition of some sort, they either start with a light or heavy breakfast depending on when the “julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord is served.  There are 3 main things happening on Christmas Eve 1. Julboard  2. Donald Duck 3. Open Presents.

Some folks have their julbord before Donald Duck and some do it afterwards.  Many start their big Christmas smörgåsbord around noon.  Everything has to be included on the julbord, nothing can be forgotten.  I think the julbord on Christmas Eve is as close as we Swedes get to the American Thanksgiving Dinner.  On Thanksgiving it is important to have the entire accompaniment for the turkey on the table and all the family gathered around.  That is the way with Christmas Eve in Sweden and the julbord.

Then the second thing, at three o’clock everyone, adults included, sit down in front of the TV. For those that have never been to Sweden on Christmas Eve, the whole country comes to a standstill at three in the afternoon.  That is when they show Donald Duck on TV, a traditional that dates back some 30 years.  The same Disney excerpts are shown every year, including Jiminy Cricket, the chipmunks, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Santa’s workshop, Ferdinand the Bull sniffing at his cork oak (my favorite), and Mickey Mouse on holiday.

After four o’clock Sweden returns to normal and the Swedish people go on with their Christmas celebrations.  The third most important part is Santa’s visit. He comes walking with a sack and a lantern.  He comes through the door (not the chimney) and asks if there are any good children around.  Once Santa left you could start opening your gifts.

Merry Christmas!  God Jul!

Soft Gingerbread “Mjuk Pepparkaka”

Yield: 1 loaf | Prep Time: 20 minutes

5 Tbsp (75g) butter
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup (3 dl) sugar
1 1/3 cup  (3 dl) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking power
2/3 cup (1 ½ dl) sour cream or crème fraiche
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cardamom

Turn on the over to 350F.

Whip the eggs with the sugar until mixed well.  Pour in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.  Mix well and then pour in the sour cream or crème fraiche.  Pour into a buttered bread form.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Swedish Christmas Series:

Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter” and Lucia
Swedish Christmas Glögg (Sweet Christmas Wine)

Rice Porridge “Risgrynsgröt” and Swedish Santa “Jultomten”

“Julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord Recipes:

Cured Salmon “Gravlax” and Mustard Sauce “Hovmästarsås”
Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar”
Pickled Red Beets
Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions

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12 Responses to “Soft Gingerbread “Mjuk Pepparkaka” and Swedish Christmas Eve “Julafton””

  1. 1

    IslandEAT — December 25, 2010 @ 12:15 am

    Hi, Ewa. This was fascinating to me, partly because I had Donald Duck books in Swedish as a child. My cousin took a year in Sweden as an exchange student in high school and gave a few titles to my brother and me.

    I never realized that this Donald-Duckian obsession was a Swedish national thing. Now I see it is. What is the reason for this (my late father insisted that Donald Duck actually was Jew – don’t ask!).

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    God Yul to you and your family,


    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 9:08 pm


      Yeah when i tell people that every Christmas Eve we watch the same Donuld Duck nobody believes me. But every year it is awesome. Since living in the US i end up watching it by myself on YouTube 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed reading it. I have no idea why, but it started over 30 years ago and when the Swedish Television wanted to change it the whole country complained so since then it was been on and just become a tradition. Do you have any specific traditions for Christmas? Hope you had a good Christmas and Holiday.

  2. 2

    Emma — December 27, 2010 @ 1:26 am

    I love reading about other countries traditions, and your gingerbread looks lovely.

    You have some great recipes on this site, I’m going to have a look around now 🙂

  3. 3

    Barbara Bakes — December 28, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    What fun posts. I think watching Donald Duck is a great way to bring a little joy into the holidays. I would especially love to try the rice pudding.

  4. 4

    Julbord Julafton 2011 | Länkkatalogen — October 24, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

    […] Soft Gingerbread “Mjuk Pepparkaka” and Swedish Christmas Eve “Julafton” &#8… […]

  5. 5

    Delishhh » Anniversary and Giveaway! » Delishhh — February 15, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    […] Swedish Christmas Eve “Julafton” […]

  6. 6

    Gina — October 15, 2012 @ 8:53 am

    Umm this may be a silly question – but where is the ginger in your gingerbread?

    • Delishhh replied: — October 16th, 2012 @ 7:55 am

      Gina – not silly at all. In Swedish these are not called ginger – but more like pepper cakes and cardamom is the key ingredient. You can add ginger if you like just add 1/2 tsp of it. I just usually omit it.

  7. 7

    moji — December 12, 2013 @ 4:05 am

    Eva, i want to make this recipe but the 75 gr butter is that only for the tin? or to put in the mix ? lovely recipe just need clarification on the butter issue. than

    • Delishhh replied: — December 28th, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

      Moji – So sorry for the late reply somehow your messages ended up in my Spam box. I know this is way later than you wanted. But yes the 75grams of putter is for the mix not for the tin. I will clarify in the description.

  8. 8

    moji — December 28, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

    thank you for your reply .

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