Posts Tagged ‘leivonnaiset’

Greek Flavours for your Christmas

The kitchen duty doubles during the weeks before Christmas. Preparing homemade sweets and a special meal is very important. Christmas is a big family holiday in the Greek culture and it is common that the whole family gets together, “My big fat Greek wedding” style. You can still find yourself having “Christmas dinner” with distant relatives two days after the Christmas Day. Eating the leftovers for at least one week is inevitable! The Christmas feasts’ main courses are pies and pork or beef. Either cooked in the oven or as a stew, our pork almost literally swims in sauce. Heavy and tasty Greek food!

Two types of traditional sweets are enjoyed with passion in huge portions during the vacations. As a child it was impossible to resist attacking them immediately when they came out of the oven. You really should try these recipes!!



300gr orange juice

265gr olive oil or other vegetable oil

600gr flour for all uses

15gr sugar powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (and a little more if preferable)

1/2 teaspoon cloves powder

25gr melted butter

Orange jest

Walnuts broken in large pieces

Ingredients for the syrup:

500gt water

700gr sugar

1 orange cut in half

2 cinnamon sticks

100gr honey


First prepare the syrup.

  1. In a pot boil for 1min the water, sugar, orange and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Remove the pot for the fire and add the honey. Let it cool.

Next make the pastries.

  1. In a big bowl mix the liquid ingredients and the butter.
  2. Add the sugar powder and the spices.
  3. Use your hand to mix in the flour slowly. Mix smoothly by hand from the centre towards the outside so the dough doesn’t get too firm (Don’t mix it too much to avoid thickening)
  4. Mold the pastries in small oval shape. Press the cheese grater softly on them to give them texture.
  5. Put them on baking paper and bake them in pre-heated oven for 30min at 180C, until they get a dark golden colour.
  6. As soon as they come out of the oven, while they are still hot, dip them in the syrup. Using a big spoon turn them from both sides for around 1min. Take them out and let them drip the extra syrup.
  7. Put them on a big serving plate and decorate them with the walnuts. Cover with cellophane.

They will be crunchy outside while soft and juicy inside…if not, they’ll still be tasty. Only Greeks would notice the mistake, so just avoid offering them some!



500gr butter in room temperature

300gr vegetable oil, not olive oil (see, we’re not obsessed with it)

vanila extract

1½ cup or 2 cups of sugar powder (depending on how sweet you want them to be)

1 shot of ouzo or tsipouro, if you don’t like the anise taste of ouzo (you can use Koskenkorva instead)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1½ or 2kg soft flour


  1. By hand or with a spoon mix the butter to melt.
  2. Slowly whisk the oil with the butter.
  3. Add the vanilla, baking soda (diluted in some of water), ouzo or tsipouro, sugar.
  4. Add slowly as much flour as you feel is needed so the dough is soft and fluffy.
  5. Roll the dough on the table, a bit thicker than 1 finger.
  6. Use cutters to make shapes (like when you bake cookies). Put them on baking paper leaving space between.
  7. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20min at 180C.
  8. Sprinkle sugar powder on them while they’re still hot (so it will stick on them). Cover with SELOFAN.

They will be soft and easy breaking.

Beware of the powder sugar! Don’t sneeze while eating!!!

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Gelukkig kerstfeest!!

Today is a special day for the Dutch Christmas, as it is the “Sinterklaasavond”. It is an evening with celebrations, parties and feasts. Tonight is the time to exchange gifts!

Sinterklaas – The Dutch Santa

He carries a big book revealing whether each child has been good or naughty. Good children are given gifts and the naughty ones are threatened to be taken away from their families. Sinterklaas traditionally rides a white horse and delivers gifts to the children by riding his horse over the rooftops. He is assisted by Zwarte Piet, who voluntarily follows him.

It is customary in The Netherlands to put one shoe in front of the fireplace on 5.12. Carrots or apples are put in the shoe as a treat for Sinterklaas’ horse. The next morning the carrot would be gone and the children find candy or a small present instead.

After arriving from Spain to The Netherlands in November, Sinterklaas visits all the big cities via the canals. Everywhere he stops, there is a parade with animals and acrobats. A few years back one could see also elephants and other exotic animals. Nowadays for safety reasons there are only sheep and horses.

Every year there is a big debate whether the tradition of Sinterklaas should be altered. Many believe that it represents the past of the Dutch empire and its colonies. A man dressed like a king, accompanied by his slaves, parades with exotic animals and clowns to amuse the locals. But the Dutch want to preserve their traditions and enjoy the festivities!

Video for Sinterklaas arriving
Video for the parade


Sinterklaas only brings small presents and treats to the children. For the bigger ones there is Secret Santa. Each family member draws a name and buys or makes a gift, creatively disguised as a surprise. There is a lot of fun in the evening when everyone is trying to find their Secret Santa. In addition, the aim is to make a hard to open package. Hiding the gift inside tomato sauce or a loaf of bread is advised. Self-made poems, teasing the recipient for well-known bad habits can be hilarious.

Typical treats are: hot chocolatemandarin orangeschocolate letter (the first letter of the child’s name made out of chocolate), speculaas , kruidnoten, chocolate coins, marzipan figures and chocolate figurines of Sinterklaas.



You will need:

250 gr. flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

125 gr. brown sugar

100 gr. soft butter

3 tablespoons of milk

1 tablespoon ‘speculaas spice mix’ (see below)

a pinch of good quality salt

For the speculaas spice mix:

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground clove

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon anise


  1. Mix all the ingredients together and taste
  2. You can add more pepper or salt at this stage.
  3. Preheat your oven to 160° C
  4. Form little balls (1cm) of the dough and put them on grease paper on a baking tray.
  5. Bake them for 30 minutes. They will become crunchier after you take them off the oven.
  6. Store in an airtight container to keep the cookies crunchy

Optional: you can dip these little cookies into melted chocolate. I feel dark chocolate works best with the taste of these cookies.

Invite some friends over for a Dutch pikkujoulu tonight and don’t forget to put your shoe in front of the fireplace! Hopefully you’ll get a pleasant surprise!!

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Päivän niksi: Tonttulakki on mainio leipomispäähine, joka myös luo jouluista tunnelmaa. 


”Jouluboston kääntyi tähän muotoon pienen lapseni suussa”

Neljäsosa puolen litran vehnästaikinasta.

              noin 25 g pehmeää voita tai margariinia
              2-3 rkl sokeria
              1 dl punaisia tai vihreitä kirsikoita
              ½ dl rusinoita
              ½ dl manteirouhetta
             ½ dl hillottua appelsiininkuorta

  1. Valmista vehnästaikina tavalliseen tapaan. Silppua kirsikat.
  2. Ota kohonneesta taikinasta neljännes ja kauli se suorakaiteeksi (30×45 cm). Levitä taikinalevylle pehmeä voi ja ripottele päälle sokeria ja hedelmät. Kääri levy rullalle.
  3. Leikkaa rullista 10 palaa ja asettele ne pystysuunnassa voideltuun kakkuvuokaan. Palojen väliin saa jäädä tyhjää tilaa kohoamisvaraksi. Anna kohota muovilla peitettynä noin 30 min.
  4. Voitele pinta munalla ja ripottele pinnalle raesokeria tai koristele valmis jäähtynyt kakku sokerivesikuorrutuksella. Paista 200-asteisessa uunissa 30-40 minuuttia.


Minä leivoin taikinan
siitä paisui pulla.
Voisinpa yhtä pyöreäksi ja tuoksuvaksi tulla.

 Neilikka, kaneli ilmasa leijaa
tuoksujen jouluinen taika.

 Nallen nenää kutkuttaa
tämä onnellinen aika

 (Hannele Huovi: Matka joulun taloon, 2001)


Arkkitehtien piparkakkutalot / Jari Jetsonen, Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen
Parhaimmat jouluherkut : ruoat ja leivonnaiset adventista loppiaiseen / Heli Bergius

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