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Jødekager

Jødekager is a Danish cookie which was always a part of the traditional Christmas baking at our house while I was growing up. It’s a small round cookie sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, reminding me of the American Snickerdoodle. There is some confusion as to where Jødekager originated from but most sources believe that the cookies were sold in Jewish bakeries in Copenhagen approximately 150 years ago and I guess that is how they got their name? In any case, they are wonderful little cookies and they are so easy to make. Prepare the dough the night before and then it’s just a matter of slicing, sprinkling and baking, and your kitchen will be filled with the smell of Christmas 🙂

Jødekager

Jødekager (makes 55-60 cookies)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

330 gram flour (11 3/4 oz.)

250 gram butter, cold (8 3/4 oz.)

200 gram sugar (7 oz.)

2 egg yolks

For garnish:

1 egg white

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Crumble flour and butter together until it has the consistency of grated Parmesan cheese, this is best done using a food processor. Place in a large bowl and add sugar and egg yolks. Using your hands, knead the dough quickly until dough comes together and it’s homogeneous, careful not to over-knead. Divide dough into 2 or 3 portions and roll each portion into a 2 inch (5 centimeter) log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours or overnight.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 395 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Lightly beat egg white with a fork to break it up. In a small dish, mix sugar and cinnamon, set aside. Cut logs into 0.2 inch (the thickness of three quarters put together) (5 millimeter) thick slices and place on baking sheet. Brush each slice with egg white and sprinkle a generous layer of sugar/cinnamon mixture on top. Bake in the middle of oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Jødekager dough rolled into logs

Source: adapted from Claus Meyer

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Finnish Christmas Stars

This is without a doubt the craziest dough I have ever worked with! When I first read the directions I was a little confused. It was unclear to me if they were asking for 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream or 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream. It turns out you start with 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream which is then beaten into whipped cream with soft peaks. As I went on making this dough I had some serious doubts about it. When the dry ingredients are mixed with the whipped cream it becomes crumbly and then when the soft butter is worked in it becomes sticky. It does however set up nicely in the refrigerator. Finally when the dough is rolled out, make sure your work surface is floured very well. At this point the dough becomes very easy to work with and rolls out beautifully. If you are unfamiliar with the rolling and folding three times procedure it is basically the same as if your making Wienerbrød or Birkes although this is not a puff pastry dough and you can read and see more pictures of the folding process on those two pages.

The final outcome was a beautiful star shaped cookie, tender and buttery with a delicious sweet, yet tangy, prune center. The cutting and folding of the cookies is a fun process which would be a great activity with older children. The Joulutortut cookies were definitely worth the effort!

Joulutortut – Finnish Christmas Stars (makes 30 cookies)

Ingredients:

For Prune Filling:

5 oz. pitted prunes

water to cover prunes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar (2 oz.)

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour (24 oz.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (12 0z.)

1 cup butter, at room temperature (8 oz.)

For finishing:

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Place prunes and water in a small saucepan and simmer until prunes become very soft, 15-20 minutes. Pour prunes, lemon juice and sugar into a blender and puree. Set prunes aside to cool.

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside. Measure 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, beat whipping cream until it starts to thicken (soft peaks). Using a spatula, add flour to whipped cream, mixture will be crumbly. Now using your hands, work the soft butter into the mixture until well combined, the dough will be sticky. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F)

Making sure your work surface is well floured, roll the dough out to a rectangle. Fold dough into thirds, rotate dough a quarter of turn and fold into thirds again, making a small square. Turn over dough. Repeat rolling and folding another two times. Finished rolled out dough should be 15×18 inches, trim off edges to get straight lines. Measure and cut dough into 3 inch squares. Then make small cuts in towards the middle of each square. First move each cut square onto baking sheets, then place a small teaspoonful of prune filling in the center of each square. Fold every second corner into the middle of each square, creating a star shape. Brush with egg wash making sure the center gets a good amount of egg wash to prevent the star from opening up during baking. Sprinkle with Pearl sugar (or regular caster sugar). Bake for 10 minutes or just until golden. Cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes before transferring stars to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Source: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

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Orange Cranberry Bread

Orange Cranberry Bread

I have been looking to change-up the holiday table a bit. I am big on traditions but there’s always room for minor improvements. Cranberries definitely belongs on the table, but serving cranberry sauce which no one in our household seems very fond of anyway, just doesn’t make sense.  So I was looking for an alternative when I came across this wonderful recipe. The only minor change I made was to toss the chopped cranberries in a little confectioners sugar to take away some of the bitterness of the berries. The bread turned out sweet and tart with a subtle background flavor of orange and a little crunch from the walnuts, very delicious. A nice addition to my holiday table.

Cranberry Bread (makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients:

165 gram all-purpose flour (5.8 oz)

135 gram whole wheat flour (4.75 oz)

200 gram sugar (7 oz)

1 small teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

35 gram unsalted butter, melted (1.15 oz or 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1 egg, beaten

177 milliliter orange juice (6 oz or 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon orange zest (zest from 1 medium orange)

50 gram walnuts, chopped (1/2 cup) – optional

160 gram fresh cranberries, roughly chopped (1 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan (22 x 12 cm), line bottom of pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Give cranberries a rough chop, add confectioners sugar, stir to combine and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine both types of flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add melted butter, egg, orange juice and orange zest, stir until blended. Add walnuts and cranberries, stir until evenly distributed. Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Wild Yeast via Ocean Spray

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Norwegian Krumkager

Back in 2005, Joe and I took a week long class at John C. Campbell Folk School. We were at the school during their Scandinavian Heritage week which we figured would be the ideal time for us to be at the school. Joe took a blacksmithing class and I took Scandinavian baking which was so much fun and gave me a lot of confidence in my baking skills. Campbell Folk School is located in the southern Appalachian mountains by Brasstown, North Carolina and the campus is set in the most beautiful and serene location. The school is based on the Danish concept of Folkehøjskole which is an adult non-competitive learning experience. Campbell Folk School offer a wide variety of classes based on American traditional arts and crafts such as basketry, dance, drawing, enameling, leather, metalwork, music, photography, woodworking and so much more. I have written about my experience at Campbell Folk School before when I made Wienerbrød and making these Norwegian Krumkaker brought back wonderful memories about our experience there. I can honestly say that is was one of the most rewarding, exciting and at the same time peaceful experiences I have ever had. To get a feel for the atmosphere at the Folk School check out their blog.

Me at John Campbell Folk School practicing decorating a delicious layered cake.

Me at John Campbell Folk School practicing decorating a delicious layered cake.

Krumkake is a delicate and delicious Norwegian waffle cookie which is traditionally served during the Christmas holiday. I first learned to make this classic waffle while taking my Scandinavian baking class at Campbell Folk School. Making the waffle does require an Krumkake iron and a cone shaped roller which can be purchased pretty easily these days online. The cookies can seem a little tricky to roll at first (careful, they are hot) but after a couple of cookies you’ll quickly get the hang of it. They can be rolled into a cone shape, a cylinder (by using the handle of a wooden spoon) or simply served as a flat round disc. The filling choices are numerous and only limited by your imagination but traditionally they are served with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Norwegian Krumkake

Krumkake – makes 38 Krumkaker

Ingredients:

4 large eggs, at room temperature

200 gram butter (7 oz.)

200 gram sugar (7 oz.)

200 gram flour (7 oz.)

2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

warm water to get correct batter consistency (I used 14 tbsp)

Special equipment required: Krumkake iron and a Krumkake roller (if not already included with your iron)

Directions:

Melt butter and set aside. Add eggs and sugar to a bowl and beat on high until thick and pale yellow in color. While continuing to mix, pour the melted butter, in a thin stream, into the egg mixture. Add your choice of either vanilla extract or cardamom and while continuing to mix, add  flour in small increments. If batter is too thick, add warm water to correct consistency.

Note: follow your Krumkake iron manufactures instructions regarding temperature settings, if iron needs to be greased and cooking time. Using the krumkake roller will give you a cone shape and using the end of a wooden spoon with give a cylinder shape.

Place a large piece of parchment paper onto your counter top next to the Krumkake iron. I taped the corners of the paper down to keep it from moving around.

Pour a generous tablespoon of batter onto your hot krumkake iron, close lid and cook until ready (30-45 seconds). Using a small offset spatula or a butter knife, quickly lift the soft krumkake onto the parchment paper and roll into desired shape. Keep the cookie on the roller for 1-2 minutes to allow it to take its shape before sliding the cookie off the roller and placing it onto a baking sheet to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight tin until ready to serve. Fill cones with your favorite filling right before serving and enjoy.

Krumkake serving suggestions: whipped cream with fresh berries, soft ice cream, preserves or jams, pudding, custard or Carole’s Almond Pudding (recipe follows)

Carole’s Almond Pudding:

Ingredients:

1 small package instant vanilla pudding (95 gram or 3.4 oz.)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup milk

1/4 – 1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Beat all ingredients together for 1-2 minutes until desired consistency and keep cool in refrigerator until ready to serve. Pipe into krumkaker cookies and serve immediately.

Source for Krumkake: adapted from Tine.no

Source for Carole’s Almond Pudding: my friend and coworker Carole Yoder

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Making Krumkaker

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Finnish Date Cake

First off, I would like to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and Glædelig Jul. I hope your Christmas is filled with peace and joy 🙂 I feel a bit guilty that I am not posting something Danish here on my blog on Christmas Eve. I could have, but I chose not to because this Finnish cake is so spectacular and so deserving for a Christmas Eve post. So here is the Taatelikakku in all its glory, you wont regret it should you decide to try it out.

I am learning that the Finnish has a lot to offer when it comes to baked goods and this Date Cake is no exception. It is soft, moist and spongy with a delicate Date flavor and not overly sweet. The dough comes together easily in a cooking pot, so very few dirty dishes…I like that 🙂 The original recipe did call for a 4 cup bunt tin, which I don’t have. But I simply just used a standard 8 cup tin and filled it up half-way and it worked out just fine. I can’t say enough good things about this Date cake and it will definitely not be the last time that I make it, besides, I gotta make use of my cool-looking bunt tin.

Finnish Date Cake

Taatelikakku – Finnish Christmas Date Cake (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cold coffee

85 gram butter (3 oz.)

200 gram all-purpose flour (7 oz.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

130 gram dates (4.6 oz.)

90 milliliter water (3 oz.)

110 gram sugar (3.9 oz.)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

Directions:

Spray bunt tin with baking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (335 degrees F).

If you don’t already have coffee prepared, make coffee and set 1/2 cup aside to cool. Melt butter and set aside to cool. Sift flour and baking powder together, set aside. Break dates into small chunks and remove pits, place in a medium size saucepan. Cover dates with water and add sugar, heat until sugar has dissolved and dates are starting to soften. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add baking soda to dates and stir. Add cold coffee and vanilla extract to date mixture. Add melted butter to dates and stir well. Then add the egg and stir to combine. Finally add the flour and stir until mixture is a smooth consistency. Pour batter into prepared bunt tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, careful not to over-bake. Enjoy!

Finnish Date Cake

Source: Melanger

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Homemade Crunchy Chocolate

Danes love to make many different types on confections (konfekt) around Christmas time. They are small delectable treasures and usually pretty easy to make. This one is super quick and easy and I adore the slight crunch from the biscuits and the hint of cranberries. It reminds me of my Kiksekage, which I looove, only this is in small bite-size pieces. However, it does contain nougat which I have never seen in a regular grocery store here where we live. So the only way for me to get nougat is to order it online, but it is well worth it 🙂

Homemade Crunchy Chocolate

Ingredients:

200 grams semi-sweet or milk chocolate (7 oz)

100 grams nougat (3.52 oz)

50 grams biscuits (1.76 oz)

30 grams dried cranberries (1 oz)

Directions:

Over a warm water bath, melt nougat and chocolate. Remove bowl from water bath and break biscuits into small pieces, add to melted chocolate. Add dried cranberries and gently stir to moisten and combine all pieces. Line a small container with parchment paper allowing paper to extend over edges for easy removal of chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into container and place in refrigerator for two hours to cool and set. Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas!

Nougat

Source: adapted from Odense Marcipan

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Lussekatter

Lussekatter mark the beginning of the Christmas season in Sweden and is served on December 13th. This day is St. Lucia and it’s a day which brings light into the winter darkness. St. Lucia is celebrated with a parade of girls dressed in white, carrying candles in their hands and the leading girl has a crown of candles on her head. It’s a very beautiful tradition and you can see more of it here.

In Denmark we inherited the St. Lucia tradition but not the Lussekatter, so these buns are new to me and I must say that they are super delicious when served warm right out of the oven. They have a sweet Saffron flavor and the most beautiful golden color. The down-side to the Lussekatter is that they don’t keep well and they really should be eaten the same day they are baked. However, if they feel a little hard by the end of the day you can soften them up by putting them in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds and they will still be very delicious.

Lussekatter (makes 10 buns)

Ingredients:

100 grams butter (3.5 oz.)

0.75 gram saffron

4 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (50 grams cake/fresh yeast)

200 milliliter milk (6.7 oz.)

50 milliliter heavy whipping cream (1.6 oz.)

100 milliliter sugar (3.4 oz.)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 kilogram all-purpose flour (17.6 oz.)

1 egg, for egg wash

raisins (20 large)

Directions:

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Melt butter and set aside.

Place saffron strands in a small dish and add a very small amount of the sugar. With the back of a spoon smash the saffron and sugar to break the saffron strands into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Heat the milk and cream to 100-110 degrees F (do not exceed 110 degrees). Add the dry yeast and saffron to the warm milk, stir to combine and let sit for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook, add milk mixture, butter, sugar, salt and egg, start the mixer. Add flour in small increment, continue to mix until dough comes together. Do not over-mix. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover with a clean, dry tea-towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Divide dough into 10 equal portions. I used my scale for this, making sure each dough ball weighed between 80-100 grams. Roll each dough ball into a long rope measuring 9 inches. Fold each rope into a tight backwards “S” figure and place on baking sheet. Press a large raisin into the middle of the swirl in each end of the dough. Cover dough with a clean, dry tea-towel and allow to rise for another 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Beat 1 egg to make an egg-wash. Press each raisin down half-way into the dough to ensure they don’t get pushed up and out during baking. Brush each bun with the egg wash. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over-bake. Enjoy Lussekatter warm.

Source: adapted from Anne’s Food

This recipe will be submitted to YeastSpotting, a great site filled with Wild Yeast recipes.

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Brunkager

Brunkager

This year I decided to try out a new recipe for Brunkager. I view this recipe as a more modern Brunkage in that, the finished product is a small rectangular cookie instead of the traditional round shape and it has pistachios in addition to almonds. The cookies are very flavorful and delicious and the only problem I had was with the aesthetic outcome. I was not able to find any whole almonds and pistachios, all I could get was almond slivers and unsalted pistachio halves and pieces. Of course now that it’s all said and done I finally found the right kind of nuts…bummer… oh well. As far as the almonds, use what you have, but whole would be perfect. But for the pistachios, I would recommend that if you cannot get whole then don’t bother with it because it really wont give you the beautiful green “wow” effect that whole pistachios would provided.

This recipe also uses Potaske which is a leavening agent commonly used in some Danish baked products. Potaske can be substituted with Baking Soda which is what I used in my previous Brunkager recipe. If you use Baking Soda you can omit the 1 tablespoon cold water. Simply just mix the Baking Soda in with the dry ingredients.

I hope you enjoy these cookies, they are a wonderful addition to any Christmas repertoire.

Brunkager II

Brunkager (makes approx. 110 cookies)

Ingredients:

250 gram butter (8.8 oz.)

125 gram dark syrup (4.4 oz.)

250 gram dark brown sugar (8.8 oz.)

2 teaspoon potaske

1 tablespoon cold water

3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

500 gram all-purpose flour (17.6 oz.)

30 gram whole unsalted pistachios (1 oz.)

120 gram whole blanched almonds (4 oz.)

Directions:

Using a 20 x 20 centimeter (8 x 8 inch) container, cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit inside the dish without it crimping up in the corners. Place parchment paper in a cross fashion with paper extending over the edges. Set aside.

Place butter, syrup and brown sugar in a sauce pan and melt over medium-high heat. Once ingredients are melting, whisk vigorously until it comes together. Remove from heat.

Combine potaske and water, set aside. Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and allspice in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Add potaske/water mixture to the warm butter/syrup mixture. Pour the warm butter/syrup mixture into the flour mixture and mix until a homogeneous mass. Add pistachios and almonds and continue mixing until combined.

While batter is still warm, pour into dish lined with parchment paper and press the mixture into corners and flatten. Cut another piece of parchment paper to fit and place on top of dough. Fold overhanging edges of paper in over batter and allow to cool at room temperature until the following day. Next day, remove dough from dish and cut into 4 logs. If you plan on baking the cookies at this point, cut logs into thin slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch space between cookies. Bake in a 180 degree C (350 degrees F) preheated oven for 9 – 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before placing in a cookie tin with a tight fitting lid.

If you plan on baking cookies on a later date, wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap, place in a zip-loc bag and store them in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Flavors will continue to develop as dough sits. Once ready to bake, allow dough to come to room temperature before slicing and baking.  Merry Christmas and Glædelig Jul.

Brunkager ready for baking

Brunkager ready for baking

Source: adapted from Det Søde Liv

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Sukkerkringler

In Denmark, the word Kringle refers to the knotted pretzel shape and Danes use this shape for many different baked goods like pastries, breads and cookies. The Kringle symbol has a long history in Denmark and it’s the guild sign for the Danish Baker. Even today, it is often displayed as a golden kringle outside the modern Danish Bakery Shop.

Form into ball the size of a walnut, roll to 6 inches long, shape as a pretzel and dip in sugar.

The Sukkerkringle is a Christmas cookie made in the traditional kringle shape. The dough is very quick and easy to make but the shaping of the cookies does require a little bit of patience (this would be a great activity for the teenager in your house :)) The cookie is soft and delicate and dipped in pearl sugar. The pearl sugar is a bigger sugar crystal which I have found online, however, if you don’t have it in your house you can use crushed sugar cubes and if you don’t have sugar cubes then just use a light coating of regular sugar…you get the idea.

Pearl sugar

Sukkerkringler

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup salted butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Pearl sugar for decoration

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place flour, butter, baking powder, egg and whipping cream in a food processor or a large bowl. Mix until combined and a ball of dough is formed, careful not to over-mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place a small amount of pearl sugar onto a small plate and set aside.

Remove cooled dough from refrigerator and divide into pieces the size of a small walnuts, roll into balls. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour onto your work surface if needed and roll each ball into a 6 inch long rope. Take each end of the dough and curl them up onto the middle of the dough, forming a pretzel shape, gently press a finger into the seam to seal the edges. Lift up the pretzel and place upside down into the pearl sugar, press down gently to make the sugar stick. Place sugar side up onto baking sheet, reshape a little if needed. Bake in the middle of oven for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing cookies in a cookie tin. Enjoy!

Source: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

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Brunede Kartofler – Caramelized Potatoes

Brunede Kartofler is a classic Danish side dish which was always served with Christmas dinner when I was a child.  Of course it was also served occasionally at other times but I think probably most Danes associate the dish with Christmas in particular. The sweetness of the caramelized potatoes is wonderful with the other classic side dish Rødkål (sweet and sour red cabbage) which is slightly tangy and the two dishes are often found on the same table.

When making Brunede Kartofler make sure to watch the sugar so it doesn’t burn and when you add the butter it will bubble up briefly, so please be very careful.

Caramelized Potatoes

Brunede Kartofler

Ingredients:

potatoes (approx 20 small white)

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place in refrigerator to cool. Once potatoes are cold, remove peel. In a pan over medium-low heat melt sugar. Watch sugar carefully so it does not burn. When sugar has melted add butter, please note that it will bubble up, stir to combine. Add potatoes and cook low and slow, gently stirring occasionally until potatoes are warmed through. Enjoy!

Source: My mother Åse Frandsen

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