BREAD AND DESSERTS
Compared with other countries, the range of Finnish bread assortment is hugely versatile, with bread types and flavours to suit every taste, from brittle crispbreads to soft baguettes and loaves, made with a multitude of flours, grains and seeds.
A traditional Finnish Christmas loaf is slightly sweet and sour. It is usually made with wheat or whole wheat and rye flour, rye malt, buttermilk, dark molasses and spices like Seville orange peel,
caraway, anise, fennel and/or ginger. Also raisins, dried apricots, prunes or other dried fruit can be added to the dough.
At least two types of bread, like white wheat and dark (black) rye bread, should be served at Christmas dinner, as well as various crackers, rusks, etc, with cheese.
Pastries, cookies and cakes
The most typical Finnish pastries and cookies consumed at Christmas time are the traditional gingerbread cookies and star-shaped Christmas pastries. Also soft, sweet yeast buns dyed and flavoured with saffron, twisted in different shapes and decorated with raisins or currants are popular.
Picture on left: homemade Christmas pastries and cookies almond sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies and star-shaped Christmas pastries.
Star-shaped Christmas pastries are made with puff pastry, or with a more flavourful quark-butter dough, and filled with plum or apricot jam.
Gingerbread cookies in shape of little men and women, animals, stars, hearts, etc, are garnished with sugar icing.
Picture on right: gingerbread cookies of different shapes.
Those who are patient enough, may bake and sugar-glue together edible, decorated miniature houses of gingerbread dough, inspired by the fairytale of Hänsel and Gretel by the Grimm brothers.
Along with cookies and pastries, any type of festive cake may be served for dessert with coffee, tea or glögg. Of the more traditional type of cakes are the many fruit cakes, usually made several days or weeks ahead of Christmas to give them time to mellow before eating.
Desserts, candies and confections
Sweet Christmas dishes and desserts may include rice porridge, different kinds of fruit or berry compotes, cakes, mousses, parfaits, etc.
Cakes, tarts, pies, jelly rolls, mousses, homemade candies and other desserts may be flavoured with "Christmassy spices", like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, Seville/bitter orange peel, mace, nutmeg, allspice, etc.
A simple, traditional Finnish dessert is prune, raisin or mixed fruit compote served with rice porridge or whipped cream, or a velvety prune mousse made of pureed prunes, cream and quark, seasoned perhaps with a dash of good Swedish punsch.
Picture on left: Finnish sweet fruit marmalade confections.
In addition, all kinds of sweets, candies and confections, like chocolates, marzipan, marmalade confections, various nuts and fresh, dried or candied fruits are served with coffee, tea or glögg.
Of the fresh fruit, sweet tangerines and bright red, tasty apples are specifically linked to Christmas time, creating Christmassy atmosphere with their wonderful scent and colourful appearance.
Picture on right: sweet tangerines.
Besides eaten, they are also used as decoration apples and oranges or tangerines studded with cloves are tied with ribbons and hung from the ceiling or the Christmas tree to fill the room with their fragrance.
Picture on left: tangerines decorated with cloves and ribbons.
You will find recipes for some of the dishes mentioned above in here.
Read more about traditional Finnish Christmas here.