Monday, December 14, 2009

Scandinavian Baking, Part II: Peppernuts and Fløtegrøt

The part of the world we call Scandinavia consists of five countries:  Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.  I've found that a lot of recipes originating in different parts of Scandinavia are similar to each other.  All in all, just about any Scandinavian Christmas cookies can be served together - they are all good!

Last weekend, I spent some time with my MIL, getting our Christmas baking done.  My Mom and Dad-in-law have six kids and are now great-grandparents several times over.  Holiday gatherings have grown to huge proportions.  So there is NO such thing as too many cookies, right?

So MIL is Danish and German.  I'm half Norwegian and then Swedish, with a few other things mixed in.  We baked some things that have been in her family for generations, and some from mine, too.  I think my lefse griddle is about shot, which means I may not make it this year, otherwise I will have to muddle through with my smaller electric frypan or the other griddle that I use for pancakes - which is also smaller.  Someday I will buy a really nice new electric lefse griddle like this one from Bethany House:

But for now I will have to make do.  I digress - sorry.  We made about 30 dozen cookies and a double batch of homemade caramels, which is about 5 lbs., I think.  Maybe a little more. 

While I mixed the Chocolate Crinkles and Andes Mint Chip Cookies, MIL cut up and baked the peppernuts she'd mixed the day before.  I will start with the peppernut recipe.  I believe this is Danish in origin.  This recipe comes from Grandma Nelson, who was my husband's great-grandmother.  We guessed that recipe is well over 100 years old, since Grandma Cohrs, who would be Grandma Nelson's daughter, is now 102 years old.  She's not baking anymore, but I know she'd love to if she could still manage it.


1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup shortening
1 cup boiling water - with 1 tsp soda mixed in
1 tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
5-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. pepper

Mix everything together.  Roll out into long ropes, about 1/2" to 1" in diameter.  (These can now be refrigerated if you want before cutting and baking).

Cut into pieces about the size of a hickory nut or a hazel nut.  Bake at 350 degrees. 

I think those bake for about 10 minutes, we never set a timer when we were baking.  When these are baked, they should retain their shape, and not flatten out like a cookie.  I've seen and tried a few other recipes I've found online and in other cookbooks, but those seem to flatten and aren't very spicy.  An option I've seen is to add cardamom and lots more pepper.  Another option is to use ground white pepper; we used black in ours.

Another recipe we didn't make this weekend but we talked about is Fløtegrøt.  This is as Norwegian as it gets.  It's a pudding that's made with milk (or cream) and flour, and served warm with sugar, cinnamon and butter.  My Grandma Hilda used to add a splash of heavy cream to the top to cool it down for us girls.  After she died, my uncle found that she'd kept boxes and boxes of journals - and this recipe was written down for us there.

Grøt  (* Note - you roll the "r" when you say this.  It sounds like "grute".  Also, the milk Grandma used was directly from the cow - not skim, 1%, or even 2%). 

1 gallon of milk - bring to a slow boil, keep stirring so it won't burn in the bottom of the pan
Add a little flour to thicken like pudding
Add a little salt.

Add cinnamon, sugar, and sweet cream to taste.

I wonder why she had the "boil real good" part in caps and underlined.  Perhaps a bad batch at some point?  I haven't had this one since I was little, and I don't know if the boys would like it.  I used to love it.  I think I will make it on Christmas morning.  If no one likes it, I could always mix in a little oatmeal, I think.

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