Midsummer Coffee Break: Swedish Coffee Bread and Egg Coffee
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
In Sweden, midsummer is the most significant holiday other than Jul (Christmas.) Though it is referred to as "midsummer," it occurs right around the summer solstice. It is called "midsummer" because it is the middle point of the warm season of the year though it occurs at the beginning not the middle of what we consider to be summer.
In the Christian Era, Midsummer is associated with the St. John the Baptist Day (June 24,) but it is celebrated with Midsummer Eve falling on a Friday and Midsummer falling on Saturday between June 19 and 25 so that it is a weekend festival. Here in Illinois, there is a Midsummer festival every year at Good Templar Park in Geneva, IL on Father's Day where you can experience many of the holiday traditions.
The majstång/midsommarstång (maypole or midsummer pole) is a Swedish take on the Germanic Maypole. As May 1 (Beltane or May Day) is early in the warm season in Sweden, Swedes adapted the tradition and moved it to the Solstice. Many believe it to be a phallic symbol. Like the Celtic Beltane, Midsummer has some ties to ancient fertility celebrations. One traditional saying is “Midsummer night is not long but it sets many cradles to rock.” Another tradition is that if an unmarried woman picks flowers and place them under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.
Midsummer "Sandwich Table"
A smörgåsbord is literally a "sandwich table." In North America, it is often meant to refer to any buffet-style meal. Traditional foods for a picnic spread include: lax (salmon), potatis (potatoes), sill (herring), köttbullar (meatballs) and jordgubbar (strawberries) for dessert.
The midsommarkrans (midsummer wreath) is a flower crown. Traditionally, midsummer was considered a time of magic. Traditionally by collecting flowers and weaving them into crowns, Swedes are collecting nature's magic.
The festivities also include tradition folk dances and music. Små grodorna ("The Little Frogs") is a traditional Swedish dance and song traditionally performed around the majstång/midsommarstång. You can watch the dance below in a performance at Geneva's Swedish Days I will be sharing a bit about Scandinavian folk music on the Perennial Blog.
Swedes take their coffee breaks, or FIka, seriously, so for Midsummer I am sharing my family recipes Swedish coffee bread (also known as a Tea Ring or vetekrans ) and Swedish egg coffee (kaffe).
Swedish Coffee Bread (Tea Ring)
Makes 2 loaves
2¼ teaspoons dry yeast
1½ teaspoons cane sugar
¼ cup water (about 130˙F)
1 cup half and half
½ cup (1-stick) unsalted butter
½ cup cane sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1½ teaspoons cardamom
1 tablespoon raw sugar
Dissolve yeast and 1½ teaspoons sugar in hot water. Set aside and let bloom for about 10 minutes in a warm spot. Melt butter in a pan and add ½ cup sugar and half and half. Then heat to lukewarm. Remove from heat and stir in egg and yeast mixture. Pour into bowl. In another bowl mix together flour, salt and two teaspoons of cardamom. Add dry ingredients to yeast mixture and mix well. Let rise until it doubles (about 45 minutes to an hour). Then knead dough well. (You may use a stand mixer on a low setting with dough hooks.) Allow to rise again.
Preheat oven 350˙F. Roll out dough into six strips with about 1¼ inch diameters on s clean flour-dusted surface. Braid together three strips into a loaf and fasten ends. Do the same with the remaining three strips. Brush tops of loaves with beaten egg. In a small bowl, mix together xone and a half teaspoons cardamom, cinnamon and raw sugar. Sprinkle spice and sugar mix onto loaves. Place loaves on baking trays and bake for 35 minutes. Reduce heat to 325˙F and bake for another ten minutes. Remove from oven and place loaves on cooling rack. Slice and serve with butter or jam.
Swedish Egg Coffee (Kaffe)
9 cups water
⅔ cup coarsely ground coffee
1 cup cold water
Add nine cups water to a stove pot. Stir in ground coffee. Break an egg into the pot and toss the shell into the pot. Bring to a boil. Let boil for three minutes. Pour in cold water. The egg white and yolk will collect the grounds. Toss the egg out. The shell adds calcium to your coffee, however, some people prefer to remove it. You may wish to strain coffee with a tea sieve. Serve.
Glad Midsommar! (Happy midsummer!)