Swedish food for Easter
Swedes love Easter and enjoy dishing up some special food and decorating their houses for the first big festival since Christmas.
Many Swedes like to decorate their house for Easter by putting birch twigs in a vase and decorating them with artificial feathers in garish colours and hanging little eggs off the twigs. Yellow is especially popular and so if you are putting on a Swedish party at Easter and so use as many yellow flowers as possible.
The excitement starts on skärtorsdagen (Maundy Thursday) when children dress up as påskkärringar (Easter witches) and go from house to house with presents of paintings and drawings in the hope of getting sweets (candy) in return. The children wear gaily coloured headscarves, have painted red cheeks and freckles and carry birch twigs decorated with feathers. If you are visiting Sweden on skärtorsdagen you really need a supply of sweets to give to the young witches!
It is uncertain when the tradition of children dressing up as Easter witches began but it was probably in the 1800s. Originally only girls dressed up as påskkärringar, but today it is common for both boys and girls to dress up although boys may wear period costumes, hats and mustaches.
The tradition is probably linked with the witch trials in Sweden during the 1600s when hundreds of women were killed for being witches. It was said that on Maundy Thursday the witches flew off to consort with the Devil at Mount Blåkulla (a meadow which could only be reached by a magical flight), and so people used to protect themselves by painting crosses on their front doors and hiding broomsticks so that the witches could not use them to fly!
Start the day with light and fluffy cardamom muffins
Why not start the day with some delicious cardamom muffins with bilberries/blueberries and lime? The mixture can be prepared up to 36 hours in advance and, in fact, that actually results in better muffins!
The muffins are light and fluffy, have wonderful golden mounds and the taste is spot on, with a perfect balance of cardamom, bilberries (wild blueberries) and lime. The recipe uses demerara sugar which improves the texture, flavour and the colour, whilst the use of buttermilk and lime gives a gentle hint of acidity without making the muffins too sour. I don't think you will find a better recipe for cardamom muffins anywhere!
Many families will have a smörgåsbord at Easter, a buffet style meal with several dishes. It has the advantage that you can skip what you don't like and have some more of your favourites.
Typical dishes include:
• köttbullar (meatballs),
• several types of pickled herring (buy from a good supplier or try our pickled mackerel recipe),
• kall inkokt lax (cold poached salmon),
• another cold meat such as lamb or chicken such as our excellent kall inkokt kyckling med citron och rosmarin (cold poached chicken with lemon and rosemary),
• cheese flan,
• eggs halved and garnished with fish roe or prawns (see our recipes for eggs with dill or prawn and egg on rye crispbread, both of which are very easy),
• new potatoes with dill,
• knäckebröd (crispbread),
• cheese such as Västerbottensost,
• salads, which often include fruit, such as on our recipe for salad with papaya and edamame.
The food at a smörgåsbord is normally accompanied by snaps, especially with the herring, and beer but wine is becoming more common.
With Easter late this year I am hoping to enjoy some forced rhubarb from my garden. It is already beginning to push the lid off the pot so by Easter I am hoping that there should will be plenty ready!
Cloudberry parfait is stunningly attractive dessert which I plan to serve at Easter. Many people have never tried cloudberries so it makes for a good talking point and as it is prepared in advance it makes for stress-free entertaining.
Easter chocolate cake
Swedes love chocolate cake at Easter! Our recipe is a real chocolate addicts delight with a really rich deep chocolatey taste and a wonderful luxurious creamy filling and glaze. Read more >>>
Påskägg (Easter eggs) in Sweden usually come in egg shaped containers full of godis (sweets/candy). In Sweden these trash-filled containers seem more popular than chocolate eggs!
Perhaps it is not surprising as Swedes are the world's biggest consumers of godis. Every supermarket in Sweden has a large section, almost as big as the vegetable section, devoted to lösgodis (pick and mix). There is even an internet site, godis på natet (godis on the internet) devoted to stocking more than 450 different types of candy, of which only 72 are chocolate based. Such is Swedes love of godis that outside of Sweden any shop catering for expat Swedes has to find space to squeeze in at least twenty assorted plastic troughs loaded with godis!
I like to make some chocolate truffles for Easter. To be honest I prefer chocolate truffles to Easter eggs. Try our recipe…
However you plan to celebrate Easter, I hope you have a good one with at least one chocolate egg and not too much godis.
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