Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Circle: St. Nikolaus

Sunday the eighth day in our Advent Circle also happens to be the feast day of St. Nicolas. In many regions of Europe children receive their gifts today.
The contribution to the Circle today comes to you in combination with my daughter Eve, who is now in the 11th grade.

St. Nikolaus

This morning when I exclaimed "Happy St. Nicolas Day!" to the family over breakfast Eve shared a little morsel from her German class this past Friday. Her Swiss German teacher mentioned that children in Switzerland are visited by St Nic who brings one large bag with gifts or hands out individual bags to each child.

Was bringt St. Nikolaus den Kindern in der Schweizi / What St. Nic brings children in Switzerland

Candy: die Bonbons
Oranges: die Oranges
Walnuts: die Baumnüsse
Tangerines: die Mandarinen
Cookies: die Kekse
Fig: die Feigen
Date: die Datteln
Peanut: die Erdnuss
Green Apple: der grüne Apfel
Pear: die Birne
Gingerbread Marzipan Bar: der Biber

Curious about the Gingerbread Marzipan I found a few links and also noticed that in Germany it may be called Lebkuchen. Please correct me if you know.

How to make your own Lebkuchen
Elisen lebkuchen - by Alfons Schuhbeck
for 40-50 cookies

½ t hartshorn (baking ammonia)
1 Tbl. Rum
40 g candied orange peel
30 g candied citron
200 g ground almonds
50 g ground hazelnuts
40 g flour
A pinch of salt
1 t. Lebkuchen spice
4 egg whites
190 g sugar
130 g. raw marzipan
40-50 Back Oblaten, 50 mm diameter (a thin, tasteless wafer made of flour and water)
150 g whole almonds
1 eggwhite
100 g powdered sugar
1 Tbl lemon juice
Dissolve the baking ammonia in the rum.
Mince the candied fruits as small as possible and combine with the ground almonds and hazelnuts, flour, salt, and Lebkuchen spice.
Add sugar to egg whites and beat until firm and creamy.
Break the marzipan into small pieces.
Add 2 Tbl. of the beaten egg whites and combine until it is smooth.
Stir in the dissolved baking ammonia and rum..
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the remaining beaten egg whites to the marzipan
At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
This will improve the taste as the flavors blend together.
When you are ready to bake:Lay out the Oblaten on a cookie sheet.
Don't leave too much room between them, just a comfortable half inch or so from each neighbor.
On each Oblaten, place a small mound of the dough, leaving only a very narrow rim of the oblaten free of dough.

It is optional but traditional to place an almond on top of each cookie.
The full recipe should fill two cookie sheets. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for at least a half a day.
Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F.
Bake the Lebkuchen for about 30 minutes. (Check on the cookies after 20 minutes and shift the sheets if necessary.)
While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. Combine the egg white, lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
Glaze the still-warm Lebkuchen, using a pastry brush.

Source: Alfons Schuhbeck's Weihnachtliches Backen (Christmas Baking)

If you have been following all the entries here in our Circle you will notice that Orange has become a common theme. We have many different essential oils of orange derived from the pressing of the peel. The most common are:

Sweet orange, Citrus sinensis  or sometimes Citrus aurantium, varietas dulcis
Bitter orange, Citrus aurantium, varietas amara
Blood orange: Citrus aurantium, varietas amara

In my experience as an Aromatherapy practitioner and a Botanical Perfume artist I have noticed that citrus is the most universal of all the scent families. Almost everyone, across the board, loves the smell of citrus, particularly orange.

Here is a journal entry from a December of 2007 which focuses a bit on how to deal with stress during the Holidaze. Perhaps there are a few pointers here that will make your holiday a bit more jolly.

Images: ADVENTure blogging banner and other graphics by Roxana Villa.


chayaruchama said...

Bless you, darling !

I used to make all those goodies for Edgar Helmut, my now-deceased FIL- in order to create comfort for him...

Always there is very real warmth that emanates from you-
One of many presents.
Kisses to you, and your household !

Flora said...

Mmm, marzipan! Anything is better with it.Delicious post!

Illuminated Perfume said...

Chaya...ah, well, with your last name of course you would know how to make those goodies! Please come on by and show Eve and me.
Big smooch and hug to you and yours my sweet friend.

Illuminated Perfume said...

Indeed Flora, marzipan is pure heaven!