Midsummer in Sweden

(Photo from Gunnebo Slott in Gothenburg – 2010)

It’s hard to believe that Midsummer is already upon us! It seems like just yesterday I was thinking about switching out my winter clothes for spring and summer clothes. And though we have had some nice warm days, it still does not yet feel like summer here in Stockholm. That being said, there are only three days left until Midsummer and time to get my menu  in gear, make those Midsommarkranser (flower crowns), and prepare to sing, dance, and hop like a frog around the Midsommarstång (May pole). You know what they say… when in Rome… or Sweden in my case. 
We will be spending Midsommar on the west coast this year. So far we’ve celebrated Midsommar at Gunnebo Slott in Gothenburg with my husband’s family, a delicious picnic and homemade flower wreaths, here in Stockholm at Vitabergsparken with some dear friends and some really good champagne, and again on the west coast on the island of Tjörn, where my husband’s family has a summer cottage. This year we are heading back to Tjörn. Hopefully the weather will make a change for the better. Right now it is looking like a rainy, indoor Midsommar. Which means lots of eating and libations. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but some sunshine would be nice for the longest day of the year. 
Here are a few photos from past year’s celebrations:

2010:

(Picking flowers from my sister-in-law’s garden)

(Making my Midsommarkrans (flower crown))

(Picnic at Gunnebo Slott in Gothenburg)

(Svenska jordgubbar (Swedish word for strawberries – literally translates to mean “earth men”)

(A glass of bubbly with strawberries and citronmeliss, or lemon balm)

(The dinner spread)

(Too shy to dance arround the May pole at Gunnebo, my husband and I came across this lonely pole the day after so I took advantage of the privacy and hopped around it like a frog)

2011:

(Vitabergspark in Stockholm with a couple of our dear friends, B & J) 
(Leaf crowns “borrowed” from a group that left them behind!)

(Midsommarstång, or May pole)

2012:

(Vegetarian quiche for lunch, topped with chive blossoms and chopped chives, both from the garden)
(Cardamom & pear cake)
(Our very own Midsommar pole)
(Who is that on my wine glass???!)
(Um… this was what was left after lunch… however, this also disappeared during the “clean up”)
(A little fun and games between meals… my husband pulled out his unicycle)

  
(Beautiful hand-painted sign for our summer cottage neighborhood – Viks Ödegärde)

(Gentlemen doing gentlemen-ly things – scrubbing the potatoes!)
(Dinner spread)

(Best Midsommartårta (cake) ever! – Recipe below)
Important things that must be present for any successful Midsummer: 
  • Lots of fresh flowers from the garden (or supermarket)
  • Lots of fresh, Swedish strawberries (and if you think you have enough, buy a few more cartons)
  • Inlagd sill (pickled herring) & fresh Swedish potatoes (of course with all the classic accoutrements: finely chopped red onion, chives, sour cream, löjrom, dill and lemon. Some also serve it with chopped, pickled beets and chopped boiled egg. 
  • Swedish snaps (O.P. Anderson is our favorite) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snaps
  • Did I mention Swedish strawberries for the cake?
Speaking of Midsommar and Swedish strawberries, my absolutely, favorite, Midsommar dessert is one from Ernst Kirchsteiger, that one of my sisters-in-law turned me on to.This “midsommartårta” is one of the best desserts you’ll ever eat. I hope you’ll try it! (I have written in the English instructions directly after the Swedish ones).

Ernst Midsommartårta – 8 bitar (8 servings)

(Tip for the US: If you look at your Pyrex measuring cup, you will see a measurement for milliliters (ml) on the opposite side)

SMET 1 (Batter 1):

1 1/2 dl vetemjöl (100-150 ml flour)
1 dl strösocker (100 ml sugar)
2 tsk bakpulver (2 tsp baking powder)
150 g smör, smält (150 grams butter, melted – 1 stick is 113 grams)
3 äggulor (3 egg yolks)
5 msk grädde (5 tbsp cream)

SMET 2 (Batter 2):

3 äggvitor (3 egg whites)
2 dl strösocker (200 ml sugar)
1 tsk vaniljsocker (1tsp vanilla sugar, or just vanilla extract)
mandelspån (1/2 -1 cup sliced almonds)
FYLLNING (Filling):Rikligt med bär, som hallon, vinbär, blåbär och jordgubbar (Plenty of fresh berries, such as raspberries, red currants, blueberries and strawberries – we used strawberries only)
3 dl vispad grädde (300 ml whipped cream)
mera bär till garnering (More berries for garnishing)
florsocker (powdered sugar)

Gör så här (Instructions):

1) Sätt ugnen på 175 grader (Preheat oven to 175 C/350 F)

2) SMET 1: Blanda vetemjöl, strösocker och bakpulver. Vispa ihop
med smält smör, äggulor och grädde. Bred ut på bakplåtspapper i en långpanna. (Batter 1: Blend flour, sugar & baking powder together.
Whisk the melted butter, egg yolks and cream together and add to the dry ingredients. Spread out on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper).

3) SMET 2: Vispa äggvitor, strösocker och vaniljsocker till en tjock
maräng. Bred ut marängen ovanpå den första degen. Strö över mandelspån.
(Batter 2: Whip the egg whites, sugar and vanilla sugar/vanilla until you have a thick merringue. Spread the merringue over the first batter and top with a generous sprinkling of sliced almonds).

4) Grädda i nedre delen av ugnen i cirka 30 minuter eller tills
marängen fått lite färg.
(Bake in the lower part of the over approximately 30 minutes, or until the merringue is light brown).

5) Dela kakan på mitten och lägg bär och grädde på den ena halvan. Lägg på den andra halvan, garnera gärna med bär och pudra över florsocker. (Divide the cake in two, spread whipped cream and berries on the bottom half. Top with the second half of the cake and garnish with more berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Tips: Gör dubbel sats med två bottnar för en större tårta. (For one large cake, double all ingredients and layer the whole cakes 😀 I recommend doubling the recipe  – it is THAT GOOD!)
(Does this not look completely divine??!)

One other Midsommar tradition is for young girls to gather seven different flowers during the day into a small bouquet. You then sleep with the bouquet under your pillow and supposedly you’ll dream of the man you are to marry. Since I’ve already married the man of my dreams I won’t be participating but I think it’s a nice tradition.

(Handpicked on our afternoon walk near the summer cottage)

Will you sleep with seven flowers under your pillow this Midsommar?

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