mansikkatorttu

After I lost the photos of that strawberry tart I baked (mentioned here), I decided to bake the whole thing again. Since it was a fairly simple tart/pie recipe, I thought I’d try making it with rhubarb as well after Tyler put in a request for strawberry rhubarb pie. The original pie, made to the recipe’s instructions, was quite delicious. The rhubarb took it to a new level, in my opinion! The original recipe was a little sweet (which is great) but the rhubarb brought in a nice balance in the flavor.


Strawberries and rhubarb, waiting to be made into pie filling.

The recipe for the pie crust is super simple, but I found that both times I made the pie I wished I’d had just a little bit more dough. It seemed on the short side to me.

One other change I made from the written recipe was to bake it for a little bit longer than the 25-30 minutes given in the recipe. The first time I made the pie the crust was still a little bit doughy, but this time around it came out much, much better. It was probably in the oven closer to 35 or 40 minutes.

The great thing about making a recipe more than once is being able to make little changes to your method, so that next time, you always know it’s going to come out even better. I’d call this one a success.

mandelflarn (igjen)

Back in March I baked a Finnish strawberry tart out of The Great Scandinavian Baking Book for my friend Phil’s birthday and managed to lose my photos of it. Between the frustration of losing photos and getting caught up in my last quarter of grad school, I didn’t bake for awhile. But now school is finished and the summertime has brought on picnics and dinners with friends galore, and I actually have time and incentive to bake again! I opted to get myself back into it by repeating one of my favorite recipes, the mandelflarn, or Norwegian almond cookies first featured here. You can rest assured I’ll give the strawberry tart another go, because it was quite delicious and it’s a great recipe for summer.

I baked the mandelflarn along with some good old chocolate chip cookies, which we served with vanilla ice cream. It made for a nice light dessert for a backyard dinner with friends.

Rest assured: you’ll be seeing more from me this summer! I’ve got lots of recipes bookmarked to try out. And since this is a repeat recipe, I thought I might share something else with you. While this video doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Scandinavian baking, it does have to do with baking, and it’s quite beautiful to boot. Check it out below:

beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

lefse

Back in November my friend Bradley helped me move into a new house, and to repay the favor I offered baked goods (Brad is an avid baker himself). I pulled out The Great Scandinavian Baking Book and handed it over, instructing him to pick anything he wanted and I’d bake it. It didn’t take him long to choose, and he handed the open book back to me and said, “I want that!” He’d chosen lefse, a crepe-like Norwegian potato flatbread.

Baking lefse was kind of a big deal for me – among the Scandinavian-American community lefse has an almost iconic status, often made for Thanksgiving and Christmas and other family-focused holidays. I grew up in North Carolina which is pretty far removed from Scandinavian-American culture, and my family isn’t Scandinavian at all (rather we’re German-American, so I grew up with eierkuchen instead). When I finally took an interest in Scandinavian culture, lefse was one of the first foods I became familiar with, and it was the first traditional Scandinavian baked good I tried. I probably wouldn’t have picked this recipe on my own for quite some time, but I’m really glad that Brad picked it. It turned out to be simpler than I was expecting, and the end result was delicious!

Baking lefse involves blending your dough ingredients – potatoes, cream, butter, and sugar – and refrigerating them overnight before adding the flour, rolling out the dough and cooking the lefse on a griddle. It calls for a special rolling pin with ridges which helps you roll the dough very thin and adds a pattern to your lefse. I picked one up at Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard. Normally it’s cooked on a special griddle, as well, but I just cooked mine in a pan on the stovetop.

Bradley helped me flip the lefse as I rolled out the dough. Once we had a nice hefty stack of lefse, we finished it off with some butter and cinnamon sugar and rolled them up. This was the first way I was ever served lefse and it’s my favorite way to have it. We brewed some tea and tried not to eat it all at once!


(photo courtesy Brad & his iPhone)

chokladtarta

Baking for friends is truly one of my favorite things about baking recipes from this book, and this one was no exception. My friend Damien had a birthday earlier this month and I promised to bake him a proper birthday cake when he got home from tour. He picked out the chokladtarta, a nutty chocolate layer cake with layers of cream filling and a chocolate glaze over top. This is easily the most involved (and decadent) recipe I’ve baked from the book so far.

The recipe gives you a list of choices of nuts for your cake layers; I had walnuts and almonds on hand but in the end decided to go for the walnuts. The cake layers are prepared first, then the cream “filling” (which goes between your cake layers) and lastly the dark chocolate glaze is made and drizzled over the top of the cake. My wonderful friend Brad helped out with the glaze and a few supplies (I’ve just moved house and my new kitchen isn’t quite set up yet).

The resulting cake was extremely rich but super delicious, and enjoyed by Damien + friends at a local open mic night last night. After an amazing Thanksgiving weekend, it was a night I was very grateful to be with friends. Happy belated, D.

eplepai

A few weeks ago my Norwegian class had a potluck and watched two episodes of the popular and hilarious Norwegian reality show Alt for Norge. There was both non-Norwegian and Norwegian fare to eat (I had my first fiskeboller) but everything was delicious. It seemed like a great excuse to try out another Norwegian recipe, and since we’ve entered apple season I picked the Norwegian eplepai. It means apple pie, but it’s more of a cake, really. Whatever you call it, I was really happy with how it turned out!

Since I was bringing one to class, I decided to bake two (so that my roommates and I had some at home as well!). This was a ridiculously simply recipe – the instructions after the ingredients list fit in a five-line paragraph. You dice up your apples, chop some almonds, mix everything up in a bowl and then bake. There are also instructions to make a whipped topping/side, but as I was short on time I opted to serve it with vanilla ice cream instead. My friend Melodie helped crush the almonds while I chopped up the apples.


(photo by Sarah Jurado)

Next I mixed all the ingredients, spooned them out into the greased pie pans, and then they baked! Like I said, it was a really simple recipe and it made a great last-minute dessert.

The pie was a hit at the potluck and at home, where we ate it still warm from the oven with ice cream!

sumarterta

Yesterday was an unseasonably warm and muggy day here in Seattle. It didn’t touch the 113 degrees I heard Los Angeles had, but for Seattle, it was warm-ish and it was really, really humid. It was a blip that felt like summer in the middle of weather that has felt like fall for a few weeks now.

In honor of this meteorological anomaly, I thought I’d try something different. The sumarterta is an Icelandic summer skyr tart, made with skyr and strawberries. It felt like the last day of the year I’d be able to get away with baking a summer tart. And I am so, so glad I did. The sumarterta was both rich and refreshing, and pretty to boot. The tart is made up of a simple tart crust, baked in the oven for about twenty minutes, and filled with a skyr/cream cheese combination and topped with strawberries and sliced almonds.

Skyr, for those who are wondering, is a really thick, tart, strained yogurt, a specialty of Iceland. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but ever since I discovered it earlier this year, it’s been one of my favorite snacks. I used Siggi’s skyr for my sumarterta – half plain and half blueberry flavor. The tart filling is made up of skyr, cream cheese, egg whites, and sugar, and I was afraid if I only used plain skyr it might be a bit too bitter a filling, even combined with the fruit topping. I figured the blueberry skyr would compliment the strawberries nicely without turning the filling too sweet, since the skyr is so tart. And it worked marvelously – the filling by itself tasted a bit like cheesecake (although with a much lighter consistency, more like a heavy mousse), but combined with the tart crust and the fruit and almond topping, it was a little sweeter and tasted as wonderful as it looked.

For the first time, I kept the end product all to myself. I’ll definitely be saving this recipe for next summer…

kringler

Kringler! A Scandinavian classic. Kringler have a long history in Scandinavia, and I always associate them with Denmark. There are many varieties out there, but the common element is the twisted pretzel shape. I’m most accustomed to the type that’s like a flaky pastry and on the large side – Seattle has a few Danish bakeries that make this kind (Larsen’s Bakery, which features a kringle in their logo, and Nielsen’s Pastries are proprietors of the large pastry kringle, as seen here).

Ojakangas features a kringle recipe that is much more of a cookie – small, crumbly, and not at all in the flaky-pastry family. She calls them Danish sugar pretzels, and I have to admit this is the first recipe I’ve tried in this book that’s only so-so. The flavor of the cookies is a little bland and I think they would do better supplemented with some sort of flavor or seasoning, or even just by putting sugar in the dough (of which there is none, it’s only stuck to the top of the cookies prior to baking them). Another thing that may have contributed to them was the fact that I used whole wheat flour rather than the standard all-purpose white flour. I’ve actually used the whole wheat for the last few recipes and they’ve been fine, but this one seems to be one where it makes a difference.

Still, the cookies weren’t bad by any means, just a little below my expectations. They make a nice sweet treat and they sure are pretty to look at…

berlinerkranser

This recipe makes a lot of cookies. A lot! I used half my dough yesterday, and I got 30 cookies out of that. The recipe says it makes 48, so perhaps mine are on the small side, but either way, that’s quite a few cookies! The other half is in the fridge, waiting to be baked this weekend. My friend Eric‘s birthday was yesterday, so I baked the first half for him and handed them off last night!

Berlinerkranser are named after Berlin, for whatever reason, and they’re basically little round cookie rings made from flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. Simple and delicious, this is definitely a recipe you can add to at will to spice it up if you’d like, but I made the recipe as written and these cookies stand on their own just fine. They’re not something to make in a hurry – once you make your dough you refrigerate it from 4-8 hours (I let mine refrigerate overnight). Being a rather inexperienced baker I had a moment of mild panic when I pulled my dough out of the fridge in the morning and it was rock hard, but I let it warm up for about twenty minutes and I was able to slice pieces off and added a little bit of water to make it more workable to form the rings. They looked a bit like oversized Cheerios before being baked, or tiny donuts, which was kind of cute.

After you form your rings you dip them in egg whites and then in sugar. I got a little overzealous on my first batch and sprinkled sugar on top of them after place them on the baking sheet, which just meant that the centers filled with sugar candy crystals as they baked, but the second batch went without the extra sprinkles and thus maintained their center holes.

All in all the recipe was simple to follow, the cookies are delicious, and I’m pretty happy I’ve still got dough in the fridge to bake!

mandelflarn

After the enormous klippekrans and the pastry-like herttaisetrinkil├Ąt, I decided I wanted to go for a cookie this time for something a little quicker and easier. Cookies don’t need yeast, they don’t require waiting around for dough to rise, and they’re small and manageable (not to mention tasty). I picked out the mandelflarn, which are Norwegian almond cookies, because they sounded delicious and looked simple.

I was happy to discover that they are quite simple indeed – the book describes them as spreading out “thin and crisp as they bake, with pale centers and crisp, golden edges.” The only thing that caught me off guard was that I had no idea just how much these cookies flattened out in the oven. I’d say the diameters of mine increased by about 2-3 inches, and they only started around 3 inches across. Alarmed at first, I worried I’d made some huge mistake in the rather short list of instructions, and had to do a Google image search. Thankfully, the internet soothed my fears by providing pages of photos of flat, crisp looking cookies, just like the ones I had baking in the oven. I waited until the edges began to brown before removing them.

After the cookies have baked, you have the option of cooling them flat or over a foil-covered dowel or other cylinder to give them a U-shape. I opted to try a few of the rounded ones and let the rest cool flat. I think I prefer the look of the cookies flat – but they taste great either way!


herttaisetrinkil├Ąt

According to the recipe, these Finnish cardamom rings are baked for special occasions, such as a baby’s baptism. I had a craft night coming up, so I decided to bake them for that. Monthly craft night’s a special occasion, right? It happens once a month at the lovely Ghost Gallery on Capitol Hill, and this month, there was a lot of knitting (on my part) and lantern-decorating (on most others’) going on. And eating. Which brings me back to the point…

The cardamom rings were fairly easy to make, if a little time consuming. After your dough has risen for the first time you divide it evenly into sections which are rolled out into long wand-like pieces and then twisted together before joining them to make rings. My dough wasn’t quite as stiff as I was anticipating so the pre-baked rings felt a little delicate, but they turned out just fine. They’re subtly sweet – there’s not a lot of sugar in this recipe – which gives them a nice flavor. The small size makes them a little bit more manageable than the klippekrans was at a social gathering, too, which is always a plus. I’ll definitely be making these again.