Swedish Gingerbread

While my memory serves me, and before winter expires, I’m chronicling some of the more memorable holiday baking I did. Hopefully this will make next year easier, unless I decide to reinvent the wheel, like usual.

We did a couple of things this Christmas to celebrate my family’s Swedish ancestry, including a family gathering that spotlighted Swedish Christmas food. I had clipped this recipe from a Saveur magazine years ago, but hadn’t yet made it, so it was finally time. There were a lot of desserts at the gathering (that’s how we celebrate!) so I was surprised to see that so many of these delightful cookies had been eaten. I worried that the amount of cloves would deter the kids, but quite the opposite: it made them distinctive and delightful. I can’t wait to make them again. A new Christmas favorite! Saveur reports getting this recipe from an 80-year-old bakery in Stockholm called Vete-Katten. Worth a visit!

swedish gingerbread saveur

Swedish Gingerbread Cookies

34 c. flour
3 t. ground cloves
12 t. ground cinnamon
12 t. ground ginger
14 t. baking soda
11 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
12 c. golden syrup or dark corn syrup
12 c. heavy cream
2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda; set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup using a handheld mixer set to medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add the reserved spice mixture and the heavy cream in 3 alternating batches, beginning and ending with the spice mixture, until the dough just combines. Transfer dough to a work surface, divide in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour. (Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and in fact, we still rolled some out 5 days later, and they were great.)
  2. Heat oven to 350°. Unwrap 1 disk of dough and place on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1⁄8″ thickness. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutters of your choice and place cookies 2″ apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, rerolling scraps. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
  3. To make an icing, if you like, whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and egg white in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer icing to a resealable plastic bag (or a pastry bag). Snip off a bottom corner of the bag and pipe icing onto cookies in a decorative pattern.

Spiced Lemon Almond Cake

Spiced Lemon Almond Cake
I frequently find myself wanting to bake something, or even needing to bake something for a party or such, and then of course, not having the right ingredients around. (I actually prepare myself constantly against this horrible scenario–perusing specialty baking stores for rose water, non-pareils, anise oil, or any other thing I just may need at any given time.) At these times, baking falls back to fanning the pages of my favorite baking books just to see what I could possibly make that would still be a little interesting, new, and fun. This recipe, the original title of which is “Mrs. Chubb’s Nut Cake” did not stick out because of it’s title. In fact, the title is not a great description of what it is, and had I not been looking carefully at ingredient lists, I probably would have skipped on by it. But, it had the good fortune of my pantry being completely ready for it, so I went ahead and baked it for a friend gathering. So glad. It’s a beautiful winter cake, nuanced by the nutmeg and the cloves, with the hint of lemon and the unique texture of the almond flour. I loved that when one of my friends asked what I had been up to this year, and I replied, “not much,” his response was, “whatever! You made that cake!” The small triumphs 🙂  This recipe comes from the Brass Sister’s Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, a truly sensational baking book. I served this with a homemade raspberry jam.

Spiced Lemon Almond Cake

1 c. almond flour (the original recipe has you pulse your own almonds with a little of the sugar to make your own flour, but it’s easy to buy almond meal these days, so I did)
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves
1 c. butter
4 eggs, separated
3 t. grated lemon zest
4 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. lemon extract
3/4 c. milk

For the topping
3 T. untoasted slivered almonds
3 T. clear sanding sugar

Set the oven in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a parchment paper or wax paper liner to fit the bottom of a 10-inch round tube pan. Coat the pan with vegetable spray. Insert the liner, spray again, and dust with flour.

To make the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cloves.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg yolks, 2 at a time. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk, mixing after each addition until completely blended. Fold in almond flour.

Place egg whites in another bowl of standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until egg whites hold a firm peak. Fold egg whites into batter.

To add the topping: Place batter in tube pan. Sprinkle almonds and sanding sugar on top of batter. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until tester inserted into cake comes out dry. Cool on rack completely before turning out of pan. Store loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature. I recommend that you serve this cake with berry preserves!