Earlier this week I posted on the ASG Facebook page about what I had accomplished last weekend: ”…and the rings baked for the Kransekake. This has prompted thoughts for this week’s blog. I know you must be wondering how making a Kransekake relates to sewing–but trust me, it does!”
It turns out making a Kransekake is like sewing; everyone has a different recipe, a different method, a different baking temp and time. How is a beginner supposed to know where to start and what to do? Whose recipe is the best? How am I to possibly have success in making my first Kransekake? Ugh. When trying something new in sewing do you have the same thoughts?
A Kransekake is a Scandinavian tiered “cake” made by baking rings, icing them, and then stacking them. It is made for weddings, Christenings, birthdays, family reunions, etc. It is a beautiful—and tasty–centerpiece for a celebration table. I had never made one and since moving to this area, I’ve been trying to get in touch with my Norwegian roots by taking up my second love which is baking. I decided since I’ve pretty well gotten lefse down it was time to tackle this lacey-looking pastry.
Like something unfamiliar in sewing, making a Kransekake required some research. I looked in a couple small Norwegian cookbooks I have and it was not in there so I took to the internet. First I did a general Google search for recipes. Well, like doing anything sewing, I learned there are as many different techniques and methods as there are people teaching it:
- Blanch raw almonds and grind them along with bitter almonds—don’t bother with the almond blanching but buy almond paste and use that.
- Use flour like cookie dough—never use flour; use powdered sugar and egg whites.
- Chill the dough before rolling—do not chill.
- Roll the dough—don’t roll the dough but put it through a pastry tip.
- Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until very brown and dry—don’t bake too long (10 minutes) but only until slightly golden and let cool in the pans about—bake at 325 for 15 minutes.
- Take the baked rings out before completely cooled—cool completely before attempting to remove from the forms.
- Freeze after baking—don’t freeze after baking but ice immediately after cooling.
- Turn the rings upside down so the flat side is up and ice—keep the flat side down and the rounded side up for icing.
It seems the only thing each recipe agreed upon was to eat and enjoy!
In doing pattern alterations there is a slash and spread method, a “block” method, a rotation method, and a seam allowance method. With the Kransekake there are many recipes:
After reviewing several recipes I decided to see if there were any pastry chefs on YouTube. Again each had their own take on a recipe and techniques.
Like with sewing, I decided just to jump in and give it a try. The worst that could happen is it wouldn’t work and I’d have to try again. I based what I read and viewed on previous baking experiences and available materials and resources. In this small town I’m not going to find two pounds of raw almonds let alone raw bitter almonds to hand grind, but the “fancy” grocery store had almond paste so that is the recipe I went with. The recipe was much like making a sugar cookie recipe with which I’m very familiar. Like sewing, I tackle something I’m unfamiliar with based upon something I’ve sewn many times.
The Kransekake forms packaging didn’t really contain great instructions, but in watching the YouTube videos there was instruction on how to roll the dough from a Danish pastry chef. His technique allowed me to get that down pretty fast: “splay the fingers while rolling and use a light touch.” Our ASG Online videos on the website are designed to help our members learn sewing techniques.
The forms for the Kransekake are not necessary but sure make things easier than drawing rings on paper and hoping they end up the correct size for stacking. There are six forms with three rings each to make an 18-piece tiered cake. Accessories in sewing, like specialty feet for the machine or a serger, make our sewing faster and more professional with better results.
As for the baking, well, I learned I did not have the dough even in the rings. By the time I filled the last three rings I had learned how thick each rolled out ring should be (about like an uncooked sausage link) and how to form the ends together—like mitering a corner in sewing!
I learned not to take the rings out before they finished cooling because they have more of a chance of breaking. I also learned that if they break to patch them up just like an unfortunate cut in fabric is a “design opportunity” during repair.
I learned this was fun to do, the icing needs to be a little thicker, and like sewing, practicing and “doing” equals success.
This was a practice for the month of May when family will visit for the local Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) celebrations. I want to do one for our morning coffee to celebrate our Norwegian heritage and family being together.
Sew until next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!