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Kransekake

By Kristin Stone

My father received a kransekake (wreath cake) for his 70th bithday from a Norwegian-American friend. Dad is known for being a very hard to please gift recipient. However, the kransekake gift was a huge hit. He was honored and delighted with his kransekake. Our whole family was very impressed that a non-professional had created a special celebration cake which not only looked and tasted unique but also celebrated Norwegian heritage. We were inspired to try to bake our own kransekake.
 
We purchased a set of kranseke pans consisting of six aluminum forms. Each of the forms had a whole in the center and three concentric indentions which created rings in graduating sizes from the center outward. We opted not to purchase the regular vs. the non-stick version of the pans. 
 
We found a recipe for kransekake which seemed simple enough: almond paste, confectioners sugar and egg whites were the only ingredients. The almond paste was hard to find and very expensive. Our initial efforts at baking kransekake resulted in all three of the rings sticking to one another. Pieces broke as we pried them from the pans. Nevertheless, the pieces were quite tasty even if we weren’t yet able to readily create a kransekake. 
 
We continually explore online resources and talk with other kransekake bakers as we tinker with our recipe and techniques. While we are not yet masters, we’ve accumulated enough expertise to have conquered the basics of kransekake. We can readily make nice dough and bake pretty rings which easily release from our pans. Here are some of the tips we use:
 
  1. Use a nut grinder to create almond meal (or buy almond meal at Trader Joe’s).
  2. Use ½ almond paste and ½ almond meal for consistently chewy rings.
  3. Freeze rings for a few days to create chewy rings.
  4. Use 1 ½ lbs of confectioners sugar and almond meal to ensure you have enough dough for your kransekake. Any excess can be used to make stickswhich can be dipped in chocolate.
  5. Buy pasteurized egg whites (in the refrigerator section at the supermarket) to use in making the royal icing which is the glue that holds all the layerstogether. 
  6. Crisco and a light coating of bread crumbs in the pans avoids sticking. 
  7. Purchase two sets of pans which will allow you to bake rings separately (rather than 3 at a time per form).
  8. Do not overbake – 10 minutes at 380 degrees works well.
  9. Serve the kransekake on a pretty cake platter.
  10. K-Mart sells a “Fish’n Bucket” which will safely transport a kransekake on a cake platter.
 
I encourage you to try to bake your own kransekake. Don’t despair if your first efforts aren’t a complete success. Keep at it and I’m sure you too can conquer kransekake. Also, please let me know if you discover any new tip to help me on my journey toward becoming a kransekake master.