On being Norsk: Krumkake

December 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm 4 comments

Ya, sure, ya betcha! Uff da! Ha det! Mange takk!

You guessed it: Jeg er Norsk. Twenty five percent anyway. My great grandparents (my mother’s father’s parents) came to America from a place called Bømlo, a small island south of Bergen off the western coast of Norway. All my life I have learned about being Norwegian. The art, national costume (for women, called a bunad), some of the language and of course, cooking and baking.

Christmas is one of the main times of the year when many traditional Norsk baked goods are made. The cookie my mother always did when I was growing up is called krumkake (pronounced kroom-kaka), literally meaning “crumb cake” (though Wikipedia says it means “bent or curved cake.”) They are incredibly delicate, like a very thin ice cream cone, and are wonderful filled with whip cream.

Last night I made krumkake, an annual ritual I have done each Christmas since I have been married (since I no longer live near my parents and my mom bought me my own iron). The recipe I use comes from the booklet that came with my Bethany Housewares iron (though I usually add a little milk), and each batch makes about six dozen cookies. As I’ve written in the past, I usually make 14-18 dozen before the holidays, and last night I made 17 dozen. While the ingredients are cheap and the cookies easy to make once you get the hang of it, krumkake is most definitely a labor of love. My iron makes two cookies at a time and takes about 35 seconds to bake. Then you roll them on a cone (before they harden). Before making the next cookies you must make sure the iron is hot again. Making a dozen krumkake probably takes about the same time as a dozen of any other cookie, except you can’t walk a way and let your oven do the work!

While making the cookies last night, I remembered something I did one of the first times I made krumkake by myself using my mom’s recipe. As any good Scandinavian cookie recipe should, it called for a stick of butter (which is unfortunate right now, given the shortage of butter in Norway). I mixed everything in my food processor, but couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t very smooth like when my mom made it. I started making the cookies and they really weren’t turning out well – they had a lot of unevenness in baking and holes I’d never seen in krumkake before. I called my mom and only then did we figure out what I’d done wrong – you have to MELT the butter first!!

I was able to salvage part of that batch, I think I may have tried to take out some of the larger chunks of butter and melt them, but it was weird because of the eggs. These days though, I am always sure to remember this very important detail. Ah the joys of learning to cook sans mama!

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Charlie  |  December 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Everyone likes a Krumkake and some of the flavored whipped cream adds an extra treat. We just tried a peppermint flavored one….ummm boy is that nice.

    Reply
    • 2. Kristi  |  December 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      Well…I am glad to see my daughter following in my footsteps…so far this year I have made 48 dozen…all to give away…hope everyone enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed making them!

      Reply
  • 3. outsideoslo  |  December 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I, too, have enjoyed eating krumkake each year. My grandma taught me to make it, but I still can’t get over how hot the cookies are when they come off the iron and need to be rolled over the cone! Do you have any tips for preventing that?

    Reply
  • 4. foodaccordingtoemily  |  October 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    […] One of my favorites is krumkake, a cone shaped cookie my mom taught me to make and about which I have written before. Another favorite is lefse, a type Norwegian flatbread. Last Christmas, my husband and I […]

    Reply

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