Pickled Herring Blogspot Dec 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scandinavian Christmas: Day 1

Welcome to the first day of the Scandinavian Christmas series!  
If you are new here, welcome!  Every year, starting on St. Lucia Day,
I invite other Scandinavian bloggers to share one of their favorite
Scandinavian holiday crafts, traditions, or recipes.  
Today I will kick off the series with a fun and simple ornament tutorial.  

It is officially St. Lucia Day! I would like to say that I woke up at 5:00 AM and baked Ryan some
 lussekatter, but alas, I am not that ambitious.  In lieu of baking the buns, however, I did get up
and drink coffee and eat peparkakor with Ryan before he had to go to work.  That will have
to do for this year.  We drank our coffee in front of our little Christmas tree and put
on a few of these new ornaments.

When my mom gave me her Swedish cookie stamps, I started brainstorming ways to make
ornaments with them.  I began researching different types of preservable doughs, and
after a few attempts, decided on a cornstarch dough.  I love that they come out
white and snowy.  They look very modern Scandinavian to me.

The dough itself can be a little frustrating at times, as it starts cracking after you've
rolled it out a couple times.  However, after numerous batches, I have learned
a few tricks that I will share with you.
First, lets make the dough!
White dough:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup baking soda
3/4 cup water

Pour all ingredients into a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, stirring consistently.
 Stir until the mixture starts to thicken and eventually looks like mashed potatoes, like this:

Remove dough from saucepan and put it in a bowl and cover with a damp towel.  
Let cool approximately 30 minutes, until dough is at a comfortable temperature to touch.  
Knead the dough thoroughly to get out any air bubbles.  Roll out dough 1/4" thick.

Cut out your shapes. Or, if you have cookie stamps, stamp with an image, then cut
out shape.  The picture below shows how the dough can start to crack after a few
times of rolling out the dough.  To help this, I wrap the ball of dough in a damp paper
towel and microwave for 15 seconds.  This restores moisture to the dough and
helps it to become pliable again.

Once you are finished cutting out your shapes, you can add any type of decorations
by making indentations into the dough, or just leave it plain.  Place cut out shapes
onto a very clean baking sheet (lined with parchment if you prefer). 
Make holes in the ornaments, or add hooks.  If you want to add hooks, I used floral
wire and cut it in 1/2" pieces, bending the piece in have and then inserting at the
top of the ornament, directly into the dough at the top.

Bake at 175 degrees F for 45-60 minutes.  Then flip over and bake an additional
45-60 minutes, or until all ornaments are hard.  Let cool then spray with a clear
protective coating (I used Krylon matte finish).  If you just used cookie cutters
instead of cookie stamps, you can paint the ornaments whatever color you'd like.
 Or have kids paint their own designs onto the shapes.

Add your ribbons and hang up on your tree and enjoy! 

Come back tomorrow to hear from Mette about one of her family's traditions!
Happy St. Lucia Day!
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