Here's Why Kransekake, the Stunning Scandinavian Dessert, Wins at Christmas
If you're searching for a stunning way to elevate your next party spread, look no further than kransekake. It's a traditional Scandinavian cake made of eighteen almond-based cookie rings with a delightfully chewy texture. What's more, despite its elegant design and towering silhouette it's surprisingly easy to make. Ahead, learn all about kransekake and get our expert-approved tips for making it at home.
What Is Kransekake?
"[Kransekake] is a celebratory cake, particularly among those with Norwegian or Danish roots," explains Daytona Dawn Danielsen, Norwegian-American food writer, author of Modern Scandinavian Baking: A Cookbook of Sweet Treats and Savory Bakes ($12.99, amazon.com), and founder of The Heart & Huset, an online Scandinavian lifestyle community. The cake is often enjoyed at festivities such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays like Christmas. The word "kransekake" means "wreath cake" in English, shares Danielsen, which is fitting as the cake is typically made of cookie rings. The cookies are stacked in decreasing size, bottom to top, resulting in a showstopping cone-shaped tower. According to Danielsen, the rings can also be arranged into a horn and filled with treats (think: cookies or candies), though the tower version appears to be more common.
How to Make Kransekake
As with many traditional dishes, there are several ways to make kransekake, though the general process is the same. A kransekake recipe starts with almond flour, which can be made from scratch or bought at the store. Next, ingredients like sugar, salt, and egg whites are incorporated into the flour, resulting in a simple (and gluten-free) dough. The subsequent steps vary depending on the recipe, but eventually, the dough is formed into rings. Danielsen highly recommends using a set of cake forms, like the Norpro Kransekake Cake Forms ($29, amazon.com). These specialty molds allow you to create perfect rings in graduating sizes, ultimately giving the cake its iconic cone shape. "A set typically includes six forms, each of which makes three of [each ring size]," notes Danielsen. Essentially, the dough is rolled into ropes, arranged in these molds, then baked until light golden brown. Once cooled, the rings are stacked and held together with white royal icing, which is usually piped in a scalloped design. "Often, [the cake] is also decorated with little paper flags from the country of one's choice," explains Danielsen.
Can You Make Kransekake Without Molds?
Technically, yes. However, it may be difficult to achieve the correct proportions when forming the dough into rings. If you choose to skip the molds, you can form the dough into eighteen ropes, making each piece a bit longer than the next. Then, form these ropes into rings, says Danielsen. "You can also form the dough into separate cookies and bake [them]," she adds. The baked cookies can be drizzled with melted tempered chocolate for a tasty variation.
Tips for Making Kransekake
Before baking the dough, be sure to prepare the molds to prevent the rings from sticking. "Spray [the forms] with baking spray or brush with butter or a neutral oil," suggests Danielsen. Next, dust the molds with semolina or cornmeal; opt for cornmeal if you want to make the cake completely gluten-free. (In this case, make sure the confectioner's sugar—as well as the other ingredients—is processed without gluten, notes Danielsen.) Additionally, freezing kransekake (before icing and assembling the rings) will only benefit the cake, according to Danielsen. It prevents the cake from drying out, thus improving its moisture and texture. When you're ready to assemble the cake, thaw the rings at room temperature, then ice and stack as usual. "To serve, remove the rings from the bottom up," says Danielsen. "This way, the cake will always be attractive and look like a tower."