Posts tagged ‘Norwegian’

On being Norsk: Krumkake

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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December 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm 4 comments

Ya sure, ya betcha!

Today is the Norway Day celebration in Minneapolis, so I feel it is only appropriate to post something Norsk. I’m a quarter Norwegian myself (and a quarter Swede too), and my Scandinavian heritage has always been a significant part of my life.

Growing up, we learned about the food, the dress, where we came from and of course, we came to know of the infamous couple, Ole and Lena. One of my favorite memories is of my mom making dozens of krumkake (literally “crumb cake”) and enjoying them filled with canned whipped cream. This bit of our culture is something my mom passed on to me a few years ago with the gift of my very own krumkake iron – the modern electric kind versus the stovetop version of days past – and every year I make around 14-18 dozen to share with family and friends.

One of my favorite things about making krumkake is teaching the skill to others. You’ve got to have patience, but you’ve also got to be quick. You have to be willing to touch the really hot cookies as they come off the griddle. And you’ve got to be ok with breaking a few. I have given kitchen lessons to a few friends and last fall gave a demo to my Daughters of Norway lodge. Next weekend I’ll be teaching a class for Ingebretsen’s “Christmas in July,” and we’ll even be trying something new to me, Norwegian fortune cookies!

So, as we celebrate Norway Day today, I leave you with my favorite krumkake recipe, which came in the instruction manual with my Bethany Housewares krumkake iron

Krumkake

4 large eggs
1½ c all-purpose flour
1 c sugar
½ c butter/margarine, melted (1 stick)
2 Tbsp corn starch
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cardamom seed

July 10, 2011 at 6:11 am 2 comments


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