Friday, August 14, 2009

Yulekaka ~ Or How to Offend an Entire Country in Just 9 Hours

My mother's side of the family has Nordic ties. In fact, if I had inherited any of her side of the family genes I would be 5'9" with awesome cheekbones, fare skin and hair. My Dad's side of the family hails from Germany and Scotland. Three guesses which end of the gene pool I went swimming in? Yeah, this sucks. Although I can pound the sauerkraut and brat wurst with the best of them.

Anyway, in a yearly attempt to get in touch with my Nordic roots I embark upon making the traditional Christmas/Holiday fruit bread called Yulekaka. No, it's not fruit cake. Trust me, when made correctly, it is a small piece of heaven toasted and topped with butter. Made incorrectly it is just this side of the third circle of Dante's hell.
Now, Norway is known for several things: gorgeous men, The Three Billy Goats Gruff , and one of my favorites ~ trolls. These creatures guard bridges, wreak havoc, and basically make life hell for any man who crosses their path. (See why I like them so much ~ we have similar goals.) You really do not want to offend the trolls. Or any Nordic gods, for that matter, as they have a few anger management issues when it comes to mere mortals stepping on their terrain. Making Yulekaka incorrectly appears to fall on their terrain.

Last Christmas, I set out on my yearly quest to make this small sampling of Valhalla. I get out all the ingredients. I measure precisely the amounts and set everything aside in cute little Williams Sonoma ramekins a la Ms. Martha. We are talking about moi after all and you know I am high maintenance, so why wouldn't my kitchen accoutrements be. I get out the needed pots, pans, mixers, oven mitts and my little troll dolls. I make sure to place the trolls in a position of significance as not to offend their delicate sense of authority. The trolls are a very important part of making Yulekaka. They have to watch over this process in order to insure the proper making of this Valhallic delicacy. But they will also wreak havoc if you happen to do anything that could slightly offend Thor and his might buddies.

Which apparently I was destined to do... yet again. Yulekaka takes about 9 hours to make ~ if you make it right and don't cheat by using the quick bread method. Which by the way is for wimps and cowards. I'm not joking ~ nine hours. It has to rise twice and the mixing has to be done just right... with details like the beaters need to be all the way in the batter and the mixer NOT set on high when you turn it on. Ugh, details, seriously people you know I just don't do details. So I measured, poured, mixed and kneaded. At some point in this process one of the trolls got knocked off his perch. How? I don't know. What I do know is that he was pissed and hell bent on wreaking a little havoc into my Yule time baking. I ended up with batter on the ceiling, the walls, across the room, in my hair and on the cats. Note: Bread batter + Cat = antiseptic, band-aids, and possibly a trip to the emergency room for a few stitches. I killed the yeast. The dough (what was left of it) didn't rise all the way. The candied fruit had gone bad ~ even though I could have sworn I checked the expiration date five times!! Candied fruit has the shelf life of a Twinke. It will last longer then cock roaches after the nuclear holocaust, but these had gone rancidly bad.

By now I was about four and a half hours into this Yulekaka operation and the only Kaka I was getting was coming from a mean little troll laying face down in the flour bin laughing his bum off at my feeble attempts and sending me every ounce of troll turmoil. The small loaf that I did manage to somehow cajole into rising the second time turned into an Acme Brick in the oven. Thor had turned his back on me and had given the troll permission to make this mission impossible. And I was so pissed that I tossed the terrible trolls into the oven with the brick burnt offering and let them melt into one giant lump of coal. Which set off the fire alarm and brought about a dozen very pissed off firemen to my house. BTW, none of those firemen where hot, so it was a lose-lose situation all around.

Needless to say, I went without my Yulekaka that year - until my mother rescued me and made me a few loafs. Thor & the trolls always did like my mother best. I waved the whited flag and have given up any future attempts at getting in touch with my Norwegian ways... Unless his name happens to be Sven and he looks like this:


LarryLilly said...

Try irish soda bread. You cant come close to ruining that, its always good, rancid or not.

Or hagas!

ag said...

hee hee!!!

I'm glad you're back. I've definitely had those days in the kitchen. If only I could find the source of my cursed luck with sugar cookies... but i'm half Mexican and half German (roughly) - so I have no mythic sugar cookie gods, gnomes, or idols to blame.

I just suck at sugar cookies. :)

...but I'll try them again this year at the holidays because I'm a glutton for punishment.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

You can pound my sauerkraut and bratwurst anytime you want.


the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Maybe the problem was that the Trolls weren't living under bridges. If I've learned anything from fairy tales and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's that Trolls love being under bridges.

LarryLilly said...

Hey go to this weeks Post Secret:

Is yours Number 10 from the top?


dg said...

Jesus, Mary and Trollseph. I had no idea that Trolls hailed from Norway, but considering that Three Billy Goats Gruff do, it all makes sense now. Every wrinkle and hairy mole are coming into focus now. The circle of trolldom is complete.

I'm so sorry to hear about your baking woes. That SUCKS, but it certainly was a funny story! :)