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In moments of indecisiveness, inspiration
can come unexpectedly. Sometimes, it just takes a good friend and a simple
conversation to provide a little clarity that sparks an idea. That is how this
cake – a combination of pavlova and cheesecake – came to be.
You see, the month of May is prime cake table ´kakebord´ time in Norway. With confirmations, weddings, celebratory parties, and, of course, 17 Mai (Norway’s Constitution Day), there’s no reason not to bake or at least indulge in the dessert conversation. There are traditional cakes, like kvæfjordkake, bløtkake, marzipan cake, kransekake. There are also newer favorites such as pavlova and brownies. One thing for is for sure, whether it’s chocolate, vanilla, meringue, marzipan, simple, extravagant, old or new, the most important thing is the love that is poured out and shared during the occasion and the cake is just a sweet indulgent that adds to memory.
I couldn’t quite settle on which recipe to share with you. I bounced between kransekake, marzipan cake, swill roll, and filled cupcakes – that would be very on theme. With the clock ticking, I felt like I needed to make a decision, but kept heading in circles. It was in the cool evening, surrounded by the rolling farm fields of Rollag, that inspiration finally hit.
I shared my dilemma with a dear friend. We chatted about traditions and cakes we like and didn’t like as much. She divulged that she loves the cheesecake with the wiggly jello layer on top. We then pondered why pavlova is so popular in Norway and how simple a swiss roll cake is, but at the same time so good. She stressed the desire for wanting to make something different than the usual. The cool breeze suddenly piercing through our jackets, reminding us we should head inside. The cake conversation ended as quickly as it started.
I left with a burning desire to provide her with a different cake recipe. As I replayed the conversation in my head, the cheesecake and the pavlova suddenly merged into one. A pavlova cheesecake. Simple and a marriage of two favorites.
The pavlova cheesecake, while new to my repertoire, is not a new combination. I found a few recipes as I researched; many from Australia that, along with New Zealand, claim pavlova as their national cuisine. This recipe, though, uses the Norwegian cheesecake I learned from my Norwegian mother-in-law: light, fluffy, and with a slight lemon tang. The balance of sweet meringue and creamy cheesecake is accentuated with fresh berries. A cake that was tested and well-received before I shared it with all of you.
Pavlova Cheesecake with Fresh Berries
For the pavlova:
4 large eggs at room temperature,
1 cup (200 g) caster/super fine
For the cheesecake:
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml)
4 ½ ounces (125 g)
lemon-flavored gelatin powder
10 ½ ounces (300 g) cream
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) sour cream
1 cup (120 g) heavy cream
Selection of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 170°C.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the bottom of a 9-inch / 23 cm spring form pan and place the side of the spring form pan on top of the prepared baking sheet. Line the spring form side with parchment, using a little softened butter between the parchment and the pan to get it to hold.
the pavlova, use an electric mixer on medium to whip the egg whites until
foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, whipping until stiff peaks form. Pour into the spring form, careful to keep it in place from sliding.
Lower the oven temperature to 250°F / 120°C.
Place the pavlova in the oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until firm and dry on the outside. Turn off the oven and if you have some time, let the pavlova cool completely inside the oven or take out and let cool at room temperature. Once cool, either leave on the tray as it is (make sure it fits in the refrigerator) or carefully remove the pavlova from the tray with the sides of the springform still attached to a serving platter.
Prepare the cheesecake filling once
the pavlova has cooled. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the
gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Pour into a medium, heat-safe bowl
and let cool completely. Add the cream cheese and stir to fully combine.
In a second large bowl, whisk
together the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar. Add the cream cheese–gelatin
mixture and whisk to combine.
In a second medium bowl, whisk
the heavy cream until stiff peaks form then add to the batter and gently fold
Pour the batter over the pavlova
and smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.
This cake is best served as soon as the cheesecake filling sets. It will last a day or two in the refrigerator, but the pavlova will begin to break down the longer it stays in the cold.
To serve, place on a serving plate (if you have not already done so) and remove the springform and the parchment paper carefully. Top with the seasonal berries. If you like, you can even serve it with this fresh berry sauce from my recipe for rice pudding ice cream.
The sun is setting behind the mountain’s edge
and as I look out the window, the trees sway in the gentle breeze. There’s an undeniable
change happening as winter’s grasp seems to be giving way. Spring is officially
here. And today, it’s Sunday.
In the pot – gently simmering away – is a dish so simple, so classic, so unbelievably comforting it’s a wonder we don’t eat it more often. It’s the ideal Sunday dish; when the whole family has more time to take things slow, which in turn is reflected in the meal. Pieces of fatty chuck steak slowly cook in a rich, beef sauce flanked with onion slices a bay leaf. After a few hours, it’s ready. This perfect and simple stew called sosekjøtt, also referred to as kjøtt i morke “meat in the dark”.
Sosekjøtt is an old-fashioned stew considered husmannskost (home cooked food). Its roots are deep in the western and eastern parts of Norway and yet, also found its way across the Atlantic on the table of one of America’s most famous men.
While researching this dish, I came across an interesting story in Bergenskokeboken from Hugo Ivan Hatland. In the book, the author describes the story of one lady’s journey to establish a new life for herself and in so, ended up serving this dish to Nelson Rockefeller.
Lydia Asphaug packed up her belongings and moved from Telavåg to America. In 1946, she opened her restaurant, Promenaden, in New York – not far from the Norwegian ghetto in Brooklyn referred to as Lapskaus Boulevard (the nickname for part of Eighth Avenue). Her menu included hearty classics from home, like sosekjøtt. She soon had to sell the restaurant since she was not as business minded as she was a great cook. Yet, her journey would continue and she ended up as the chef for Nelson Rockefeller, American business man and 41st President of the United States. She would certainly go on to prepare sosekjøtt for him.
There’s just something about home cooked dishes that transcends cultures. Something we can all associate with. Simplicity that speaks volumes and comforts us no matter where we are or what we are facing in that moment. That’s what makes sosekjøtt, like any type of stew or home cooked dish, more than just its ingredients. Its affect reaches far beyond the plate itself.
Sosekjøtt is typically served with boiled or mashed potatoes and a side of vegetables or mashed green peas (ertestuing) or creamed cabbage (kålstuing) and/or stirred lingonberriers (rørte tyttebær). Here, I’ve turned the mashed potatoes into a celebration of spring and added peas to it. Feel free to serve the sides you prefer best with this stew.
For the sosekjøtt:
2.2 pounds (1 kg) chuck steak or shoulder steak (høyrygg/bog)
3 tablespoons butter, for frying
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
4 cups (1 liter) beef stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
For the spring mashed potatoes:
1 ½ pounds (about 700 g) starchy potatoes,
peeled and cut in half
3 tablespoons lightly salted butter
1 cup (240 ml) milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup (150 g) green peas
1 bunch dill, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
To make the
stew, start by cutting the meat into large chunks, about 1 ½ inches (4 cm).
Season well with salt and pepper.
In a large,
heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high
heat, until hot and bubbling. Brown
the meat in 3 batches (to avoid overcrowding), turning with tongs, for about 3-5
minutes per batch; add one tablespoon more butter with each batch (adding more
if necessary). Transfer the meat to a large plate and set aside.
In the same pot, add the 6 tablespoons of butter and
melt over medium-high heat. Add in the flour, whisking to combine. Cook for
about 5 minutes or until the mixture has turned dark brown, whisking often to
ensure it doesn’t begin to burn. The darker the color, the darker the stew will
be. Slowly pour in the beef stock, whisking until blended.
Add in the browned meat, onion wedges, and bay leaf. Bring
to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover with a lid, cooking for 2 hours until the
meat is tender. Remove the lid, return the stew to a gentle simmer, and cook
for 30 minutes more until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.
While the stew is cooking for the remaining 30 minutes,
prepare the spring mashed potatoes. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold salted water and bring to
a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are
barely render when pierces with a knife. Drain the potatoes and return to the
pot. Add the 3 tablespoons butter, along with the milk, and mash until creamy. Season
with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the green peas, dill, and spring onions.
Serve the spring mashed potatoes immediately with the warm sosekjøtt.
Fleskepannekaker takes the humble Norwegian pancake to the next level and turns it into a full meal. In other words, it’s the pimped out pancake.
Pieces of fatty “fleske” pork cook into the eggy batter as it turns golden. It can be served simply with a couple snips of chives or topped with sweet sirup and a fruit compote or jam to unite the sweet and savory flavors in every mouthful.
While you can serve this anytime of the year, it’s an ideal dish to serve on Fat Tuesday (feitetirsdag), when people all over the globe are feasting on their variation of the pancake.
In Norway, this day is traditionally referred to as feitetirsdag or hvitetirsdag (Fat Tuesday or White Tuesday). If celebrated as Fat Tuesday, one would eat the best and fattiest foods in the house, as a way to empty the cupboards before the start of fasting. Many people would eat seven fatty and nutritious meals to ensure they were full and content before Lent. For others, one would begin the transition to eating meager fare and dine on white foods, such as milk and pastry, hence the name White Tuesday.
I typically use my basic pannekaker recipe for this recipe and then toss in a good amount of fried bacon. Some people keep the bacon in long strips, so use the size you prefer.
I also always have a good amount of blueberries in the freezer that I can use when whipping up a quick compote. They work so well against the salty and fatty bacon and eggy pancakes. If you finish it off with a drizzle of maple syrup, you get that beautiful balance of sweet and savory you want with a dish like this. Of course, if you are feeling like less is more, omit the blueberries and sirup and just toss some chives on top and call it a day.
Norwegian Pancakes with Bacon, Syrup and Blueberry Compote (Fleskepannekaker)
(Makes 6 large pancakes)
For the pancakes:
½ pound (about 225 g) bacon,
cut into smaller pieces
1 ½ cups (180 g) all-purpose
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (500
4 large eggs
Butter, for frying
For the blueberry compote:
2 cups (200 g) frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup (lønnesirup)
the bacon pieces over medium heat until brown and crispy (or your desired
texture). Set aside.
make the pancakes, in a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Slowly pour in
the milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth batter without any lumps.
Add in the eggs and mix well to combine. Let the batter swell for 15 to 20
the pancake batter is swelling, make the blueberry compote. Place the blueberries
and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently for about
10 minutes, until thickened. Set aside.
Over medium heat, heat a large frying pan or skillet. Place some butter in the pan to evenly coat it. Ladle in some of the batter, moving the pan around to coat the bottom evenly. Top with a good handful of the cooked bacon pieces. You should get around 6 pancakes, so divide the bacon pieces accordingly. Cook until the bottom of the pancake has set and turned golden in color. Flip it over with a spatula (careful that some bacon pieces might be loose) to finish cooking the other side. Fold the pancake in half, and then half again, making a nice triangle. Transfer the pancake to a plate, toss any loose bacon pieces on top, and cover with foil to keep warm. Continue this process until all the batter has been used up.
Serve warm with a good dollop of the blueberry compote and a drizzle of maple syrup.
The smell of eggy batter cooking atop a skillet is almost unmistakable. It draws you in as it evokes loving memories to the forefront.
Pancakes (pannekaker) are deeply embedded into the Norwegian food culture. They’re typical “farm to table” food, with the ingredients sourced from a working farm – eggs from the hens, grain from the fields, and milk from the cows.
Pancakes are also an ideal base for sweet or savory toppings and fillings and are enjoyed extensively throughout the country by one and all for a multitude of occasions.
The Norwegian pancake is loved off the table as well. The fairytale, Pannekaken “The Pancake”, was collected and published in 1842-1844 by Peter Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe as part of their collection of Norwegian tales. The story, similar to the American tale of The Gingerbread Man, which first appeared in print in 1875, tells the story of a pancake that runs away from a hungry family. The pancake meets others along his journey wishing to eat him only to escape until he finally falls for the cunning lies of the pig and gets eaten.
While the moral of the story delves into topics regarding possession and lying, as well as not trusting anyone without consideration, the use of a pancake as the main character is a simple one. That is, it’s easy to relate to the desire one gets when a freshly cooked pancake comes off the pan. Most people wouldn’t turn down a pancake if they were offered one, they might even chase one down if it started to run away.
Når jeg har gått fra kone krone, gamlefar’n og syv skrikerunger, fra mann brann, fra høne pøne, hane pane, ande vanne og fra gåse våse, så kan jeg vel få gå fra deg, gasse vasse», sa pannekaka, og tok på å trille og trille det forteste den orket.
Asbjørnsen og Moe. “Pannekaken”, Norske Folkeeventyr. Photo credit: eventyrforalle.no
The Norwegian pancake is thin and eggy. Delicate, and yet hearty at the same time. When using fresh farm eggs, they take on a beautiful golden yellow color from the yolks. There are variations of the recipe and ways to serve them, but this is the most common and straightforward one, using all-purpose flour, milk, and eggs.
Pannekaker (Norwegian Pancakes)
1 ½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (500 ml) milk
4 large eggs
Butter, for frying
large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth batter without any lumps. Add in the eggs and mix well to combine.
the batter swell for 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat a frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Place a little butter in the pan to evenly coat it, using more or less as needed throughout cooking to prevent sticking. Ladle in some of the batter, moving the pan around to coat the bottom evenly. Cook until the bottom of the pancake has set and turned golden in color. Flip it over with a spatula to finish cooking the other side. Transfer the pancake to a plate (cover to keep warm) and continue this process until all the batter has been used up.
Serve with your favorite toppings or fillings, such as jam and sour cream.
Not long after we moved to Norway, I was served kaffegraut “coffee porridge” at the Rollag Station Kafe in Rollag. It was presented simple enough. A bowl with a thin layer of cinnamon and symmetrically placed raisins on top. What lied beneath the brown layer, though, was unknown to me. I was curious, perhaps even a little skeptical being that it was porridge and all. But one bite in and my slightly tensed shoulders relaxed. My eyes widened as my thoughts began to process what I had just encountered, and I couldn’t help but smile as I took in the smooth textures and subtle buttery and sweet flavors.
After devouring my bowl, I had to find out what this impossibly good porridge was and if the cook would be kind enough to share her recipe. She explained it was kaffegraut, a sweet semolina porridge typically served alongside coffee as a treat. The recipe she was using was from one of Norway’s most traditional homecooks, Bodil Nordjore. The secret: cook it for a long time. A really long time.
This dish really plays on the whole ‘time and patience will create something magical´ method. The idea and the science behind it is that as the semolina cooks longer, it breaks down so that the porridge almost melts in your mouth. The longer the milk cooks, the more the flavor from the whey intensifies.
According to Bodil, kaffegraut is a traditional festive dish that is found more so in the western part of Norway – each location having their own name for it, such as veitlagraut. It was used in place of serving bløtkake(layered cream cake) during celebrations such as weddings, confirmations and baptisms. This was because it was much more practical to carry the porridge than a cake, in the sense that a cake might not retain its shape after a long journey – and I think we have all experienced when a cake comes out of the box not looking quite the way it was intended to. That’s what makes this porridge so unique, it doesn’t look or sound like much, but it can easily be a substitute for one of Norway’s most beloved cakes.
This sweet porridge is smooth and creamy and just melts in your mouth. A treat to go alongside your coffee or drink of choice. While some recipes recommend a cooking time of three hours, I found two hours was quite sufficient. If you are short on time, by all means you can cook it for an hour, but I recommend no less to ensure you get enough time to break down the semolina and intensify the flavor. If you are good for time, then go for three hours.
I like to soak my raisins in coffee to plump them up before serving and give them a little more flavor. You can do this with hot water if you don’t wish to use coffee, or you can just use raisins straight from the container.
Kaffegraut (Norwegian Semolina Porridge)
Serves a party (around 10-12)
8 ½ cups (2 liters) whole milk
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons (200 g) semolina
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (170 g) cold butter, cut in pieces
¼ cup (60 ml) raisins
1 shot espresso (optional)
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, warm up the milk and heavy cream just before the mixture begins to boil. Whisk in the semolina and salt, ensuring no clumps are forming. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring often to ensure the porridge doesn’t brown on the bottom (it’s ok to carry on doing other things while the porridge is cooking, just be sure to check it often enough).
Remove the porridge from the stove. Add the sugar and stir until it melts into the porridge. Follow with the butter and stir well. The porridge should be glossy now and slide around the pot as you stir. Pour the porridge in a large serving bowl. When cooled down some, place the bowl in the refrigerator (covered with plastic wrap) for at least an hour to chill.
Optional: Soak the raisins in a shot of hot espresso or strong coffee to soften them for about 30 minutes before serving.
When ready to serve, sprinkle on a good layer of cinnamon and place the raisins (soaked in coffee or not) on top. Enjoy!
The near year is upon us and sometimes that
means getting back into the swing of things takes a little more time. Even in
the kitchen it’s nice to start with simple dishes following an excess of
holiday meals and over the top dishes you reserve for one last bang to end the
When thinking about the first dish of the year to share with you, I couldn’t help but continuously glance over at the egg basket sitting near the kitchen window. It was full to the brim. And the excess eggs, somewhere around 48 eggs were taking up far too much space in the corner. You see our hens had stopped producing eggs when the weather turned toward the middle of autumn. The egg basket was empty. Mid-December, we peaked in the coop to discover a good handful of fresh eggs. We haven’t been able to use them up as fast as they have been coming, so a simple egg dish seemed not only appropriate but somewhat imperative.
As I was reading through some old Norwegian
cookbooks, I came across Bondeomelette, which translates to “farm omelette”. This
is the Norwegian equivalent to the French omelette or the Spanish tortilla.
Eggs, potatoes, meat, and a veggie or herb for good measure. I’m not sure when
the omelette took hold on the Norwegian farm, but cookbooks dated back to the
late 1800s include recipes for it.
When we lived in Rome, our Italian landlady – who had worked at the Spanish embassy for 60 years and had been taught to make the Spanish tortilla from the ambassador’s wife – passed on her knowledge and recipe to me. In that recipe, every ingredient starts from scratch; cutting raw potatoes, salting & draining them before cooking them in oil and whisking the egg whites and yolks separately. The Norwegian technique is much simpler and less time-consuming, using leftover meat and potatoes that are already cooked and not worrying about separating the eggs or flipping the omelette back and forth. The techniques wield slightly different results, but both are delicious.
When cooking the omelette, there are a couple of ways you can do it. First, you can cook it over a high heat and turn it over a couple of times to cook the omelette through (the technique I learned in Rome). Secondly, you can cover with a lid, cook over medium/medium low heat, and let it sit on the stove for a good 25 minutes until the top is cooked through. Thirdly, you can begin cooking it over the stove and then transfer to the oven to cook it through and ensure the top has a nice coloration. While I typically turn mine over and over, for this recipe I let it cook on top of the stove with a lid and then flipped it over once to finish cooking the egg on top and give it a nice brown coloring before I flipped it back over to serve.
Also, feel free to use whatever leftovers you might have in the fridge and any herbs/vegetables in season. Vegetables, such as peas, are a common addition as well.
(Serves 6 to 8 )
10 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ cups (200 g) cooked, pulled meat
½ large leek, sliced into rings (about ¾ cup)
6 small potatoes (about 450 g), cooked
Whisk together the eggs, milk and salt in a large bowl until fluffy.
Slice the cooked potatoes into rounds (about 1/4-inch or 1/2-cm in thickness).
In a large frying pan or skillet (use non-stick if flipping the omelette and use an oven-safe pan if placing in the oven), heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onions and cook until soft and starting to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add in the cooked meat and leeks and cook for about 2 minutes. Top with the sliced potatoes and pour over the egg mixture. Grind some black pepper over the top and lower the heat to medium/medium low and cover with a lid. Let cook for 20-25 minutes until the omelette is cooked all the way through. Check once or twice to ensure the bottom is not sticking or browning too much and adjust the heat if necessary.
If you wish, take a large plate over the top of the omelette and turn the omelette over onto the plate. Place the skillet back on the stove, turn the heat to medium-high, and slide the omelette back in, so the top is now on the bottom. Cook up to a minute longer, until it begins to brown. Turn the omelette over onto a serving plate. Serve immediately with a salad and/or bread.
The snow continues its graceful decent from above – large flakes producing a thick, white blanket as far as the eye can see. It’s a winter wonderland and today is the last day of any work and school obligations before celebrations truly take hold. With only a few days to go before juleaften, I wanted to share one more favorite baked good with you: serinakaker.
Revered by many, serinakaker are one of the traditional Norwegian cookies served during jul (Christmas). These buttery cookies are like a cross between shortbread and sugar cookies – rich and delicate. Their simple nature disguising their incredible flavor. Each small cookie is topped with a sprinkling of sugar and almonds that roast so slightly as they bake in the oven. With so few days left before jul, it’s nice to know there are still simple and delicious cookies you can throw together and share with your loved ones.
You might wish to double the batch since these cookies can easily be devoured.
(Makes about 30 cookies)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (250 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or vanilla essence
2/3 cup (150 g) butter, room temperature
1 large egg, beaten
1 egg white, beaten
Pearl sugar (or sparkling sugar)
Sliced or chopped almonds
Pre-heat the oven to 375 °F / 190 °C. Have two baking sheets with parchment paper ready.
In a large bowl or mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, and vanilla sugar. Add the butter and cream everything together. Add in the sugar and beaten egg (and vanilla essence, if using instead of vanilla sugar) and combine to form a good dough.
Roll out the dough into a long sausage and divide into approximately 30 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and gently press down on the top of each with the back of a fork, creating a pattern.
Brush each cookie with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds, using as much or as little as desired.
Divide the cookies among the baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
Store in a cookie tin for a couple of weeks and enjoy!
Brune pinner directly translates to “brown sticks” – a direct reference to their appearance, but an understatement in terms of their taste. They’re somewhat similar to gingerbread/pepperkaker, but with a strong hint of syrup and cinnamon, and a topping of sugar and almonds to accentuate every bite.
They also happen to be one of the most beloved Christmas cookies in Norway. Their incredible flavor and ease in making are probably what makes them stand out and has given way to their popularity across the country, with some considering them as one of the 7 Norwegian Christmas cookies, or syv slags julekaker. They are also known as karamellpinner, or kolakaker in Sweden.
These are one of my personal favorite cookies to make during the holidays and I like to use a mixture of white and brown sugar in my recipe, for flavor and texture. When making brune pinner, feel free to swap the almonds for another nut you may prefer, or omit if you have allergies.
(makes about 60 brune pinner)
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (200 g) butter, at room temperature
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (100 g) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark, Norwegian syrup “mørk sirup” (you can substitute with light molasses or Lyle’s Golden Syrup or an inverted sugar syrup)
1 large egg yolk
2 ½ cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or essence of vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup (60 ml) pearl sugar
1 ½ tablespoons chopped almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 °F / 180 °C. Have ready 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl or mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Whisk in the syrup and egg yolk (and the vanilla essence, if not using vanilla sugar).
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon. Pour into the sugar mixture and combine until you form a nice dough.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each one out into a long, thin sausage, about 9 ½-inches (24 cm) in length. Place 3 pieces on each baking sheet, with space between. With your fingers, press each piece flat to form an oblong shape that is about ¼-inch (½ cm) thick.
Brush each piece with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the pearl sugar and chopped almonds, using as much or as little as desired.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven. While still warm, use a knife to cut each piece into small strips on an angle, about ½-inch (1 to 1 ½-cm) wide. Store in a cookie tin for a couple of weeks.
*The cookies will be more crunchy towards the ends of each piece and a little chewier in the center. They will harden throughout the longer they are kept in their cookie tin.
Look here for more holiday cookies and inspiration
(Lefse wthout gomme is like porridge without salt)
Gomme goes by many names, including gumme, gubbost, and dravle. It’s created by cooking down fresh milk – curds and whey and all – to achieve a soft and spreadable sweet cheese. It’s been around for centuries, perhaps one of the older desserts known, and has had a central place among Norwegian milk dishes. Life on a self-sustainable farm meant a limited supply of cow’s milk during certain parts of the year. Therefore, since gomme was made of fresh milk, it is reasonable to assume it was a highly treasured dish that was reserved for special occasions and high holidays.
It is suggested that the name gomme could derive from the dish being presented as a maternity gift (“gumma” meaning “kone” or wife, in English). However, the dish was not limited to such an occasion and it has been noted to be presented at baptisms, weddings and funerals. Today, it is also commonly served during Jul (Christmas).
The tradition of making gomme is strong across the whole country, especially in northern Norway, Trøndelag, and the southern and western areas. Recipes vary and the “correct” way of making it will be different depending upon who you ask.
The simplest form of gomme is to separate the curds from the whey and then combine only the curds with other ingredients, such as eggs and cream and sugar, and cook until the desired taste and consistency. This type of gomme is referred to as hvitgomme, snargomme, or hurtiggomme. The leftover whey can then be boiled down to make prim or brown cheese.
The recipe I have provided here, like many, includes the whey in the process providing a sweet, carmelized taste as it cooks down. The more carmelization, the darker the gomme will be. The addition of sugar, eggs, flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and/or raisins varies from recipe to recipe, farm to farm, and area to area.
Gomme is a delightful dish, versatile to use on your favorite “bread” or even eaten alone. If time is an issue, by all means you can make a simpler version by removing the curds from the whey as soon as they separate and then cooking the curds with some whole cream, sugar, eggs, and spices (or any combination thereof) until you reach your desired consistency and taste (around 15-30 minutes). If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can also slow cook the curds and whey mixture for up to 8 hours over low heat.
Gomme (Norwegian Sweet Cheese)
8 ½ cups (2 litres) whole milk
2 cups plus 1½ tablespoons (500 ml) buttermilk
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, bring the whole milk to a boil and stir. Remove from the heat and add in the buttermilk, sugar, and cinnamon, stirring well to combine. The milk will begin to curdle. Put the pot back on the stove over medium heat. Gently simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. It should have a light brown color (for a darker color, cook longer). Optional: add in ¼ cup (60 ml) raisins 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
After most of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the stove and let cool slightly. Mix in the beaten egg.
Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. Serve with waffles, lefser, lomper or bread.
There is an intense ruggedness at this time of year when autumn is holding on tightly before winter sweeps through for good. The sky is more often than not a grey hue with gaps of blue sometimes piercing through. The landscape is subdued, quiet even, as it slowly paces toward the end of another season. The fog comes rolling in with more vigor, covering everything in its path in a billowy embrace. It’s a magical time; a window between the end of one period and the start of a new.
It’s a time when I find myself clinging to autumn, for a few more days when the air is crisp and smells of earth and aging leaves. I cling all the way until Thanksgiving, a holiday we have celebrated no matter where in the world our feet have been. When the sun rises the following morning, I peacefully come to terms that autumn gave it’s all and will return again with the same energy. Now, I can fully embrace what winter has in store.
It felt right to include a new tradition on the morning of Thanksgiving this year. The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafting through the air to invite the holiday in before the scuffle to work and school begins (for in Norway this day is like any other Thursday, with normal routines still intact). Rather than make the usual skillingsboller (cinnamon buns), it needed to include a berry befitting of the day. We don’t have cranberries, but we do have tyttebær (lingonberries). They grow all around us and a fall forage always leaves us with plenty to use throughout the winter.
So, these sweet buns filled with cinnamon, butter, and sugar got a couple of handfuls of lingonberries tossed in. Rolled up, sliced, and then snuggled in tightly, they consumed a pie dish and filled the air with a sweet, buttery, holiday scent. Lathered in a simple orange glaze didn’t hurt either and they disappeared before the turkey was on the table.
These buns are very indulgent and the contrast between the sugary filling and the tart lingonberries is inviting for seconds. You can easily swap out the lingonberries for cranberries, just be sure to cut them into smaller pieces. You can also use lingonberry jam, but then you will need to omit the brown sugar (or at least most of it) and adjust with a layer of butter. Also, you can bake them on a cookie sheet, spaced apart rather than together in a pie or tart dish. See below for the time adjustments. They are great on their own, but a good drizzle of the orange glaze will really elevate these rolls.
Lingonberry Cinnamon Sweet Buns (kanelsnurrer med tyttebær)
(Makes 12 buns)
For the sweet buns:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) butter
1 cup (240 ml) milk
5 cups (600 g) flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 g) granulated sugar
2 ounces (50 g) fresh yeast or 2/3 ounces (17 g) active dry yeast
To make the sweet buns, warm the milk and butter in a medium saucepan, until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a kitchen mixer with the bread hook. Add in the milk and butter mixture and begin to knead. Add in the egg and continue kneading for 8-10 minutes on medium-low speed. If you do not have a kitchen mixer, just blend everything in a large bowl and knead by hand, around 15 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot for 11⁄2 hours or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, prepare the filling by blending together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease 2 pie dishes or line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large rectangle that measures roughly 18 × 22 inches (45 × 56 cm), with the longer side directly in front of you. Spread the cinnamon/butter mixture over the entire surface of the dough, spreading it to the edges. Evenly distribute the frozen lingonberries on top. Gently roll the dough horizontally to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 12 pieces. Arrange the buns evenly inside the pie dishes. Let the buns rise for 40 minutes. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Alternatively, bake the buns spaced apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes or until nicely browned. *I tried to squeeze 8 buns in one large pie dish and it took much longer to cook the buns all the way through. You can also bake one pie dish filled with buns and then bake the remaining on a baking sheet as I did.
While the buns are cooling, prepare the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the fresh orange juice and zest with a fork to form a semi-thick glaze (adjust the orange juice as you go to get the desired consistency). Drizzle on top of the buns and serve immediately. The glaze will harden as the buns cool.
Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 2 days, reheating when serving.