O Tannenbaum

“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

– Stephen Hunt

DSC09594 - Version 2There are moments and then there are moments to remember. What an honor to be invited to a Christmas Tree Lighting party. Days before the party, our friends gently remind us that their friend’s party will be held outside. Of course, silly me – trees live outdoors! There is a bitter chill and we soon realize how fast toes freeze. We sensibly huddle by the fire, smoke in my eyes, while balancing grilled bratwurst in brötchen and glühwein in each mitten. Oh the joys of winter!

DSC09609 - Version 2As we circle around the tree, switching rotation with every new song sung in German, I revel in the moment. The tunes are familiar but the lyrics are not distinct, still a liberating way to celebrate the Christmas season. Most memorable was a woman who sang solo, beautifully in Norwegian. It was so nice that I could hear Odd humming the song as we went to sleep that night.

As the hostess was Norwegian, I thought I’d bring Adventkrans (Advent wreath) for the party. I realize this is best served indoors (and as you know, trees live outdoors) so I changed my mind and reserved it for our own first Advent Sunday at home instead. It is especially delicious warm from the oven with the aroma of cinnamon and cardamom still lingering in the kitchen. I think true Norwegians actually make this on the last Advent Sunday but maybe you’ve noticed *sarcasm* I’m learning to live on the edge.

DSC09710 - Version 2AdventKrans

Adapted from My Little Norway

I used a scale to measure my ingredients in grams, but have included the conversions.

500 g  / 17.6 ounces / 4 cups all-purpose flour + extra, if necessary

100 g / 3.5 ounces / 1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cardamom

100 g / 3.5 ounces / 0.44 cup butter

3 dl / 300 ml / 1.27 cup milk

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast

sugar, cinnamon and raisins (optional) for filling

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

DSC09650In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and cardamom. Set aside.

DSC09651In a small pot, warm milk and butter just until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 110℉/ 43℃.

DSC09653At 110℉, dissolve yeast in milk mixture. Set aside to proof for 5 – 10 minutes.

DSC09656Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add milk mixture and stir until a dough is formed. If you have a stand-up mixer, you can do this with a dough hook.

DSC09661Knead in bowl for about 6 minutes, or until elastic and supple. Add a little flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, if it is too sticky, but try not to add too much flour.

DSC09663In another bowl, add a teaspoon vegetable oil. Roll dough in oil and cover with a clean cloth. Allow to rise for 1 hour or until double in size.

DSC09665Divide in 3 equal parts + reserve a little extra for decorative pieces. (If you prefer not to braid, simply roll dough into one log and break off a little piece for decorative pieces. Just follow the next few steps, noting that the log will be larger and wider. Skip braiding step.)

DSC09667Lightly flour your board and roll one ball into a log.

DSC09668Flatten slightly.

DSC09669Spread butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. If using raisins, this is a good time to sprinkle also. Roll from long end to the other.

DSC09674Continue with 2 other pieces of dough to form 3 logs.

DSC09676 Make a braid – taking outer log over the middle log, alternating sides.

DSC09684Form into a wreath, sealing the two ends. Roll out extra dough to make decorations. I made round balls to look like holly berries. Be creative. I had enough to make a baby version too.

DSC09686Cover and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200℃/ 392℉. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar if you like. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. (*FYI:  I have been using a convection oven so I have turned my oven about 25 degrees lower than suggested temperature above and baked this wreath closer to 30 minutes.)

DSC09697Cool completely. Drizzle with icing (mix sifted powdered sugar with a drop of milk, consistency to your liking) and serve with coffee.



2 thoughts on “O Tannenbaum

  1. You’re so funny, Archie! Glad you’re able to enjoy the treats without adding on the pounds (like me!). Thanks for being a fan and filling my day with sunshine and goodness!

    Stay amazing.


  2. sehr gut Vernie. I can smell the aromatics while am reading the recipe, scents of the cardamom, cinnamon & the yeast all waffing thru my brain and teasing my taste buds. I even ask a colleague at work if they can smell cinnamon, they just gave me that look which am always given when i talk about food. Anyway, i know the scent of cardamom and cinnamon is around the office(it’s funny how your brain can do tricks to your mind). How exotic is this advent bread. I truly love experiencing cultural culinary traditions during this time of year.

    Your family is so blessed to have such a creative and talented wife/mom to nourish their bodies and soul by preparing such treats with love, the #1 ingredient and passion into the food that she prepares.

    Let me know what ingredient(s) i can ship to you that you can’t find in Berlin. I will send you Ceylon cinnamon(true cinnamon, which is sweeter and less pungent than the cassia cinnamon. do you have chia seeds, hemp hearts and nutritional yeast?

    stay warm and be well.
    love and hugs.


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