Modern Scandinavian Baking
Former Taste of Norway editor Daytona Strong publishes her first cookbook
CHRISTY OLSEN FIELD
Taste of Norway Editor
Longtime Taste of Norway editor and Scandinavian food blogger Daytona Strong has published her first cookbook, Modern Scandinavian Baking: A Cookbook of Sweet Treats and Savory Bakes.
Strong was the Taste of Norway Editor from 2015 to 2019, and the voice of Outside-Oslo.com, a food blog dedicated to Scandinavian food traditions and hospitality.
I first met Daytona Strong in 2012, when I was the editor of the Norwegian American Weekly, now The Norwegian American. I discovered her blog Outside Oslo and reached out to her for an interview. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were about the same age and lived in the same neighborhood. We became fast friends in real life, with a mutual love of Norway, good food, and good books. I had a feeling that she would write a cookbook someday, and that day is actually here.
I was excited to talk with Daytona about her new cookbook and her writing process.
Christy Olsen Field: Congratulations on your new cookbook! What inspired you to make the leap from celebrated blogger to cookbook author?
Daytona Strong: I’ve said for a long time that I’ve always been a writer, but there’s a part of me that belongs in the kitchen as well as at the desk. So with over 10 years of experience blogging about Scandinavian food at Outside Oslo, as well as my work as a freelance writer, creating a cookbook has been a longtime goal—it’s something I’ve been working toward for many years. As those with any experience in publishing know, however, a lot of it involves the right project at the right time.
COF: Where did you get your love of Scandinavian baking?
DS: With Norwegian roots on both sides of my family, I grew up enjoying all sorts of Scandinavian treats: lefse, fyrstekake, marzipan cakes, and the like. Not to mention all the cookies the women in my family would bake at Christmastime, like their lives depended on it! Both of my grandmothers worked in the hospitality industry; Grandma Adeline was even a professional lefse baker. So that, along with their generation’s approach to hospitality, infused each of their gatherings, from hosting parties to the times they babysat me.
COF: The name of your book is Modern Scandinavian Baking. How did you update recipes for today’s bakers?
DS: It’s always been a goal of mine to share recipes that are traditional and authentic, while also being accessible to today’s home cooks. The recipes of generations past are often vague or limited in detail—they assume a certain amount of familiarity with a dish or at least a level of experience in baking and cooking. I want everyone to have success with my recipes, whether they have experience with Scandinavian baking or are new to it. So in Modern Scandinavian Baking, today’s bakers will find recipes that are rooted in tradition yet made for today.
If I may offer some examples, I’ve included a number of my family’s Scandinavian recipes, from Grandma Adeline’s lefse to Grandma Agny’s bryte havrekaker (oatmeal cookies). Those recipes are absolutely authentic. However, I have adjusted the recipes where appropriate, or written the instructions in such a way that anticipates the questions and potential trouble spots that bakers might encounter.
COF: Can you tell me about the process of choosing recipes? What categories of recipes do you have in the book? I saw that you include some family recipes from your family and your husband’s family. Which ones are you most excited about?
DS: Narrowing the selection of recipes down to the final list was one of the hardest parts of the process. The world of Scandinavian baking is vast, spanning several countries and many centuries. That said, I sought to curate a collection of recipes that would represent Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in ways that would pique delight in a native as well as inform a newcomer to the countries’ specialties.
The book’s outline is as straightforward as can be: It starts with breads and savory bakes (that’s where you’ll go for Swedish sirupslimpa, my “grains of the north” buns, and a delightful mushroom and cheese quiche (a riff on Västerbotten Pai for readers with Swedish roots). From there, you’ll find the most delightful assortment of coffee breads and pastries (don’t miss the almond-filled cinnamon bun cake—seriously), followed by cakes (including my daughter’s strawberry-and-cream birthday layer cake, bløtkake), and cookies.
Speaking of cookies, this is the chapter that really speaks to my story as a Norwegian-American home baker. Ever since I was old enough to perch on a stool, I baked with my Grandma Adeline, who was Norwegian-American by way of North Dakota. But in my 20s, I began a regular practice of baking with Grandma Adeline and my mom. That was when Grandma—in her 80s and 90s, then—began to really pass on the techniques and recipes that she had honed over the decades. Together we made krumkaker (the recipe in my book is a combination of her technique and my other grandmother’s recipe), sandbakkelse, and many other treats. It was important to her to that someone in the family carried on the lefse-baking tradition, but we made many other of her specialties, some of which you’ll find in the book.
While I gained much of my Scandinavian baking experience from Grandma Adeline–who grew up speaking Norwegian at home in North Dakota—my other grandmother, Agny contributed to my appreciation of Norwegian food by the wonderful meals and baked goods she served throughout my childhood and youth. Grandma Agny—who emigrated from Norway to the United States when she was around 40 years old—held onto much of her Norwegian heritage and tradition. It was infused into her sense of hospitality. I only have three of her recipes, and I am so excited to share her bryte havrekaker, which I mentioned earlier, and an adaptation of her krumkaker recipe.
Since I’m talking about family recipes, I also want to mention that my mom did most of the work on the spritz recipe, the rum balls are a riff on my dad’s signature holiday baking recipe, and there are two very delicious Swedish recipes adapted from my husband’s great-aunt, who was known to be a remarkable cook.
COF: Anything else you want our readers to know?
DS: This book comes from my heart, and I hope you all enjoy it. I’ve always associated Scandinavian food with love, as that’s how my grandmothers prepared and served it. I hope that this book inspires many people to get into the kitchen and bake—ideally together, if possible!—and to extend Scandinavian-style warmth and hospitality with those you love.
Gratulerer så mye, Daytona!
Smoked Salmon Tarts with Potatoes, Eggs, and Herbs
From “Modern Scandinavian Baking” by Daytona Strong
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (8 oz.)
Olive oil, for brushing
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes,
very thinly sliced, ideally with a mandoline
salt, for seasoning
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, cut in half and
sliced, or 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. thinly sliced gravlax or smoked wild salmon
Dill or other herbs, for garnish
Microgreens, for garnish (optional)
Whole-grain mustard, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set the puff pastry on the counter to defrost until it’s workable but still cold, about 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry sheet to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Cut it into rectangular quarters, then fold each over ¼ in. to create a rim. Place the pastry pieces on the baking sheet about 1½ in. apart, and prick them all over with a fork. Brush with olive oil. Arrange the potato slices over each of the pieces, avoiding the rim. Brush the potatoes with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed and just begun to turn gold. Remove from the oven and sprinkle about half of the cheese over the potatoes. Arrange the tomato slices on top, leaving space in the center for an egg. Top the tomatoes with remaining cheese. Crack an egg into the center of each pastry and sprinkle with salt, then return to the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Arrange the salmon on the tarts and sprinkle with the fresh dill and microgreens (if using). Serve with mustard.
Modern Scandinavian Baking is available on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2UjniD3), and the publisher is offering 15% discount with code “15SBaking” for readers of The Norwegian American.
If you’re not following Daytona yet, I highly recommend it!
On the web: outside-oslo.com
On social media: facebook.com/outsideoslo, pinterest.com/daytonastrong, Instagram @outsideoslo
This article originally appeared in the April 17, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.