fika: kardemummakaka

Here’s a book I’m excited about:

Fika, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall. My friend Daytona told me about this book earlier this year and I ordered a copy shortly before we packed up our container in May for the Norway move. I was so excited to get it, but I opted to put it in one of the moving boxes so that it’d be here in Norway once we flew over in August. So I had a few months to wait before I really got to sit down with it! Fortunately, it was worth the wait.

As you might assume, this recipe book is all about fika, the beloved Swedish custom of the daily coffee break (with treats). I love the size of this book and I love the aesthetic, too – instead of photos, the book features adorable illustrations. It also features a lot of great background info, like exactly what fika’s all about, a history of Swedish coffee, pantry staples you’ll want to have on hand for the recipes, and so on. It’s straight up my alley.

I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to make first, but in the end I settled on a cardamom cake. I love cardamom (don’t we all?) and I guess I was craving a cake. This one ended up being a lovely breakfast treat for a few days (it goes well with coffee, after all). It’s simple to make, and the end result isn’t too fancy, but it’s delicious and elegant enough to make for a special occasion, as well.

The recipe called for a bundt pan, which I didn’t have, so I just used a normal cake pan. I quite like the result. Inside, the cake was spongy and fragrant, sweet but not too sweet. Just right. To keep it unfussy I topped it off with a dusting of powdered sugar. A bundt pan would definitely dress this simple cake up, but it’s nice to know it works well as a simple shape, particularly as a fika treat.

I’m very much looking forward to baking more things from Fika and with the weather cooling off in Tromsø, I’m sure there will be lots more baking in the near future.

Here’s to kitchen number seven!

the norwegian american weekly & moving to norway


Hi, hello! I have a couple of pieces of news today!

I’m very pleased to share that I’m one of several new contributors to the Norwegian American Weekly‘s food section, Taste of Norway. I’m incredibly grateful to the food editor Daytona (of Outside Oslo) for giving me a chance to be included, for I do love writing about food. Unlike this blog, I’ll be contributing actual recipes; much like this blog, I’ll be writing rather conversationally in my own voice and taking my own photos. My first recipe for the paper is in this week’s issue (the June 5th issue) and can be found online here. I’ve come up with an almond cookie recipe with celebratory occasions in mind: the kransekake provided some inspiration, and the recipe itself is based on one of Ojakangas’s that I’ve made several times, unsurprisingly (though I’ve made several changes to suit my taste).

At this point I’ll most likely only be contributing every couple of months or so, so I’ll post here whenever I have a new story/recipe up.

This piece of news is one of two things I’m hoping will help revitalize this blog, as well. The other piece of news is something I made passing reference to in my last post – I’m moving to Tromsø, Norway this summer to begin a master’s program at the University of Tromsø in the fall. I wrote about that decision on my other blog, but needless to say, I’m incredibly excited. One of the things I’m hoping to bring into my pieces for the Weekly when I can is my experience with exploring food culture in Tromsø. I am really only a fledgling cook, but eating out in Norway is very expensive, and I’m hoping this will be a motivator to do a lot more cooking in the kitchen (particularly when there are so many wonderful Nordic cookbooks coming out at the moment).

I’ve also been thinking about ways to keep this blog going a little bit more… regularly. It wasn’t started with the intention of being a regularly active blog, necessarily, more just a place to document what I baked out of The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, but in the nearly five years (what?!) since I started this blog, my Nordic horizons have expanded quite a lot. I’ve actively worked on my Norwegian, I visited Denmark and Sweden for the first time, I visited Norway and Iceland for the first time (and then went back, and then went back again, and again, and…). I fell in love with the Norwegian coffee scene. I started actually reading quite a few more food blogs. And then there are the new Nordic cookbooks, coffee books, and baking books that are coming out… I’ve picked up a few and found myself itching to write about them – and really, what better place is there than this? There was a time where I was unlikely to bake anything Nordic that wasn’t from Beatrice’s book, but that time has definitely passed (and in fact I think it passed a few years ago, which is why this blog has seen so few posts in the last year or two). It seems to follow that starting to include other sources in this blog makes perfect sense, and so I plan to do that bit by bit.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Taste of Norway section in the Norwegian American Weekly – I think the quality of the stuff Daytona has brought in is really excellent and it’s so exciting to see the whole section revitalized.

saturday afternoon æbleskiver

æbleskiver 5

I first encountered æbleskiver*, Danish pancake balls, at the annual Yulefest celebration at Seattle’s Nordic Heritage Museum. As you wait in line (there’s always a line – they’re a popular item) you can watch a line of volunteers, each with their own portable burner and æbleskiver pan, as they tend to their batter with long, thin wooden sticks, rotating the balls to form perfect spheres composed of the lightest, fluffiest dough I’ve ever had. Only slightly sweetened, these pancake balls are served topped off with powdered sugar and either applesauce or lingonberries (at the museum, that is – elsewhere you might find them filled with applesauce or jam instead). The word æbleskiver is actually composed of two Danish words: æble, meaning “apple,” and skiver, meaning “slices.” Given the name I can only assume that applesauce is the more traditional of the two toppings, but I’ve always gone for lingonberries. I’ve also had these delicious pancake balls at Broder in Portland, a wonderful Swedish restaurant that’s been a favorite of mine since my first trip to Portland.

My husband and I have been going through our house in preparation for a move to Norway (you can read about that here) – lots to pack, lots to find new homes for, lots to figure out what to do with – but in going through our kitchen I discovered a cast iron æbleskiver pan in the back of a cupboard. I think we must have bought it during the holidays sometime in the past few years, but forgotten about it after it went in the cupboard in the madness of holiday travel and all of that. In any case, I doubt the pan will be coming with us to Norway, so I decided it was high time for me to try making some æbleskiver of my own, before we find a new home for it!

æbleskiver 1

The dough itself is quite simple with relatively few ingredients – simpler than any of the other Nordic pancakes I’ve made, at least. Some of the ingredients need prepping – the milk needs to be heated to lukewarm, the butter needs to be melted, and the egg whites need to be whipped until stiff – but once you’ve done that you’re almost ready to hit the pan, really. I think my technique could probably use some work, though, because most of my pancakes came out shaped much more like macarons than like balls. Still, they were delicious all the same!

æbleskiver 2

Æbleskiver are made with a special pan, with half-sphere indentations in which the pancakes are cooked. When the surface of the first half has cooked, you use a long, thin stick (made of metal or wood) to turn the spheres so that the rest of the dough forms the other half of the ball. I have a feeling it takes some practice to get pancakes that are perfectly round.

æbleskiver 3

æbleskiver 4

I served mine up the way I like them – topped with powdered sugar and some lingonberry compote (homemade, in this case). They were a lovely Saturday afternoon treat!

*Beatrice spells this recipe “aebelskiver,” but I’m more familiar with the common spelling æbleskiver, so that’s what I’ve used here. The second half of the word sometimes gets spelled “shiver” in English, because of how the “sk” sound is pronounced.


I have long had an aversion to walnuts in baked goods, largely because I can’t stand walnuts in two of the most basic American baked goods there are: brownies and chocolate chip cookies. They’re very polarizing in these two cases; some people love them, some detest them. I’ve always fallen into the latter camp. I think walnuts will always ruin what is otherwise a perfectly delicious brownie or chocolate chip cookie. I never wanted them in muffins, either, no matter what kind of muffin.

I don’t dislike walnuts as a rule. Growing up, the stuffing my mother made for Thanksgiving dinner every year contained walnuts, and it was often my job to crack the walnuts open as we were prepping. I enjoyed this task immensely, and I often enjoyed snacking on the walnuts, too. To this day, whenever I eat walnuts on their own, the smell and the taste take me straight back to sitting at the kitchen table on Thanksgiving morning with the parade on the television, cracking open walnuts as my brother and I helped mom prepare for dinner.

The good news is, I’ve found a cookie with walnuts that I really, really like: Swedish Cinnamon-Walnut Cookies.

I’m in Oslo for the summer, and it’s largely been a very warm, very sunny summer. The weather’s finally cooled off, though, and some rain systems have moved in, so my friend Alex (the same one mentioned here) came over to bake with me yesterday. We decided to try these cinnamon walnut cookies – it’s a very simple recipe which doesn’t need very many ingredients, so we were mostly stocked up already. I also had some pretty divine French butter I bought at Mathallen that I thought would work quite well (when ingredients are few and simple, it always pays to use the best quality ingredients you can). As it was a Sunday (most grocery stores in Norway are closed on Sundays), I popped down to the local greengrocer/import store which was open to see if they had any vanilla extract. They didn’t, but they did have vanilla bean – and as it turns out, if you scrape out the seeds from the bean, you can use those as a substitute. It’s a much lengthier process than measuring out a teaspoon of vanilla extract, but the cookies definitely didn’t seem to suffer as a result. Alex and I simply dispersed the seeds in a small bowl with the egg (the closest thing to a liquid ingredient) before beating it into the dough.

I think using the nice French butter really paid off. The dough alone was exquisite. And as I mentioned, very few ingredients were needed: the dough was made from butter, sugar, flour, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla.

After the dough was chilled for 30 minutes, we pulled it out of the fridge. Small pieces were rolled into balls, which were then rolled in a blend of cinnamon, sugar, and chopped walnuts, and then placed on the baking sheet.

The balls of dough flatten out into the loveliest little domes in the oven. The resulting cookie was something like a snickerdoodle, but lighter, fluffier, and covered in walnuts. They were delicious. These would make a perfect Christmas cookie, and I’m already looking forward to making them again during the holiday season. I’m very pleased to have found a walnut cookie I love.

chocolate bergamot cookies in pom pom quarterly

I posted about this elsewhere already, but it also seemed appropriate for the baking blog: I’ve got a cookie recipe in the spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly! Pom Pom is a lovely UK-based publication focused on knit, crochet, and craft, but they often include a recipe, and I’m incredibly happy they chose to include mine in their spring issue. It’s the first time I’ve had a recipe in print, which is, admittedly, pretty exciting.

chocolate and bergamot

The recipe is for chocolate bergamot cookies (bergamot is the citrus oil that flavors Earl Grey tea). When I wanted to make some chocolate cookies with bergamot several months ago, I could find plenty of recipes out on the internet that involved chocolate and bergamot, but they were all a little bit more decadent than what I had in mind (think bergamot flavored cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies, or macarons, or… you get the idea), so I got to work on a recipe of my own. These are simple chocolate cookies with a drop or two of bergamot oil for flavor – if you do want some extra decadence, I suggest adding dark chocolate chips. But they’re plenty good without, and simple to boot! They’ve become my go-to cookie recipe and they’re always a crowd pleaser.

Pom Pom is available in a print edition or a digital PDF version, and both are available from the Pom Pom webstore here. Spring 2014 is the issue for my recipe, but they’re all divine, so I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to grab a few more!

lingonberry compote

It’s been an insanely busy fall (I put out a collection of knitwear patterns) and an insanely busy holiday season (we had friends staying with us all week last week) so my Scandinavian baking skills have been lying somewhat dormant. I baked a couple of apple pies around Thanksgiving, as I’ve been getting really into heirloom apple varieties and my local farmer’s market sells some wonderful ones, but otherwise there hasn’t been a ton of time for baking.

In need of some last minute gifts and some alone time in the kitchen, I pulled Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann down off the shelf. The book was a Christmas gift from my folks last year, but once Christmas is over, you feel a bit silly doing anything remotely Christmas-themed, so I hadn’t had a chance to try out any of the recipes. One of the sections in the book focuses on gifts from the kitchen, and I’d been itching to make some of the lingonberry compote. And so I did!

It’s hard to think of anything simpler. Assuming you can get a hold of lingonberries (you can find frozen berries in Seattle, fortunately), it’s a recipe for instant gratification. The process is basically just creating a reduction out of berries, water, and sugar, and it takes less than half an hour. Sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying.

I made several jars this Christmas which I doled out to family and friends with glee. We’ve got one tucked in our own fridge for when we get back from traveling (it’s New Year’s in Norway once again). Back to our regularly (if sparsely) scheduled program when I get back. I’m determined to do some good baking this winter, and I’ve got rye flour in the freezer just waiting to become buns…

A very happy new year to you all. x

from boller to bread pudding

Boller are a coffee bread staple in Scandinavia. They are ubiquitous, and I must admit that I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the ones they sell at 7-11 and gas stations. Norwegian gas station boller are better than most things one can buy in an American gas station. I’m honestly not sure mine lived up to the standard.

waiting to go in the oven

At any rate, I baked the basic hveteboller recipe in The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, and I enjoyed it very much. These coffee buns are a nice light yeast roll, flavored with a hint of cardamom. My kitchen smelled amazing all day, which is one of my favorite things about baking breads. (This was also one of the first things I baked in the new kitchen, and it’s as wonderful as I hoped it would be!)

The recipe yields two dozen rolls, which is all fine and well if you’ve got a big party or a feast to throw, but it was quite a lot for just me and my husband. As a result, several days after the initial baking, the remaining rolls were turned into bread pudding. I love a good bread pudding, and the Scandinavian cardamom coffee breads make an excellent bread pudding (I’ve turned pulla into bread pudding before as well). The one pictured below was made using this recipe – I prefer to leave out the raisins.