Serinakake is a beautiful addition to your syv slags this Christmas
As a writer, I think of a lot of things in terms of drafts. Articles, blog posts, menus, and even my holiday calendar. I’m currently working – in pencil – on a way to fit in all the activities that I cherish during the month of December. It’s safe to say I’m past the rough draft and am on to the first solid one right now. Out of all the annual events and traditions to squeeze in, baking with my grandma and mom is one of the priorities, and my calendar is already packed with baking sessions with these two women. Each year we get together as often as possible to bake the old family classics: lefser, krumkaker, sandbakkelser – and the list goes on.
I also do plenty of Christmas baking in my own time as well, and I’m working on establishing my own set of syv slags kaker—or seven sorts of Norwegian cookies. Grandma’s krumkaker and sandbakkelser are on that list, and now so are these serinakaker, which I just discovered last holiday season.
A buttery cookie decorated with pearl sugar and chopped almonds, these are delicate enough to look elegant on a cookie tray yet are sturdy enough to stand up to a cup of hot coffee or tea. As with most traditional foods, the recipes vary. Ingredient lists may look slightly different between one cook and another. And when it comes to technique, some people roll the dough in balls and flatten them before baking, while others chill logs of dough and the slice it into thin wafers. I prefer the latter approach for these cookies. In either case, they’re easy to make and are a great addition to a syv slags cookie tray.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons hornsalt*
1 cup cold butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beat
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar**
1 egg white
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/8 cup pearl sugar
Combine the flour and hornsalt, either with a whisk or by giving it a whirl in the food processor. Add the butter, cutting it in a pastry blender or food processor until you have a mixture that resembles small breadcrumbs. Add egg and combine to form a soft dough, then mix in the sugar and vanilla sugar. Roll into logs about 1 and quarter inches in diameter, cover in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 – 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and transfer the logs to the freezer while you set up your baking station. Giving yourself plenty of room to work, set up a cutting board, cookie sheet (ungreased or lined with a silicone baking mat), and bowls containing the egg white, the chopped almonds, and pearl sugar. When you’re ready to go, take a log out of the freezer and cut it into thin disks, a little less than a quarter inch in diameter. Place on cookie sheet, spacing at least an inch and a half apart, as they will spread significantly during baking. Brush each with egg white and then liberally sprinkle chopped almonds and pearl sugar on top. Return unused dough to the freezer while the first batch bakes. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes on the center rack of the oven, rotating halfway through to ensure even baking. Cookies will be done when they are slightly golden. Cool slightly on the cookie sheet until crisp enough to transfer to a plate or wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.
*Hornsalt, also known as hartshorn or baker’s ammonia, is an ingredient commonly used in Scandinavian baking. It is available at Scandinavian stores such as Scandinavian Specialties in Seattle. If you can’t find it, baking powder is sometimes used as a substitute. Hornsalt has an ammonia odor, which you’ll notice as the cookies bake, but it does not impact the flavor.
**Like hornsalt, vanilla sugar is a common Scandinavian baking ingredient and can also be found at Scandinavian specialty stores. Alternately, you can substitute a little vanilla extract.
Daytona Strong is the voice of Outside Oslo, a blog exploring her Norwegian heritage and love of great food. Check out the blog here and follow it at www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo and http://www.twitter.com/OutsideOslo.