Kransekake is a cake made from almonds, icing sugar and egg whites. The dough is a little coarser than marzipan and sometimes has specs of almond skin as a ‘rustic’ feature. The cake is often served at holiday celebrations like Christmas and for weddings. Even though kransekaker is a ‘cake’ it is rather more like a biscuit. The word ‘kaker’ in Norway is used not just for cakes but describes any sweet bake as well.
Kransekake is made by cooking rings in different sizes, which are then stacked into a pyramid-shape. It is held together by icing between the layers. Usual decorations include tinsel, bonbons, lollies, sparklers and small Norwegian flags. An ornament can be placed at the top of the cake for a particular occasion, eg: a star for Christmas, a birthday candle or a bridal figure for a wedding. The cake can also be made upside down creating a basket for strawberries, thick custard or lollies.
In Norway, the dough can be bought in any food store which makes this a no-fuss cake. However, if you want to make the dough from scratch the fuss is put back in. The almonds need to be blanched, rubbed of skin and then dried overnight. A grinder or food-processor is required to mince the nuts to create the paste. Different flavours can be added such as apricot. Special kransekaker baking pans can be used but they are certainly not needed. If you know how to roll playdough you can definitely roll kransekaker dough.
Some people say you need 18 rings for a traditional cake but it doesn’t really matter. We like our krasekaker a little chewy so we make the rings thicker and bake for less time. Putting them in the freezer also helps. The more the cake is baked the harder the dough will become.
The icing to use is the same as pepperkaker, however, it is kept white as the colour comes from the decorations. The icing is zig-zagged between each layer to fuse the layers together when it dries but it also gives an attractive ‘snow on a Christmas tree’ effect. The decorations are either pinned on or glued with icing.
As this cake is very decorative it is often used as a centre piece for a celebration table. It can sit out on the table for a couple of days (if everyone can resist) as it doesn’t need refrigeration. Pieces are picked off from the bottom, to keep the top in tacked, and it is eaten by hand. The cake has a sweet almond taste with a firm chewy texture and is very more-ish. Good luck keeping it contained for more than a day!
This cake takes up to two days to make as the dough needs to rest and freeze.
500g of almonds
500g of icing sugar
3 decilitres of icing sugar
Skinning the almonds: Add only half the almonds to a pot of boiling water. Turn off the heat and leave them for 2-3 minutes. Pour the almonds into a strainer and rinse them under cold water. Take a fistful of the almonds at a time and rub them in a towel to make the skin loose. Pop the almonds out of their skin and leave to dry for a few hours or over night.
Making the dough: Grind the skinned and unskinned almonds in an almond grinder or food processor. Add the icing sugar and mix. Add egg-whites until the mixture becomes stretchy and firm. Cover the bowl with plastic and put in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Baking the cake: Grease kransekaker moulds and sprinkle with semolina or fine bread crumbs. Note: You can also make free-form rings by rolling them by hand. No need for semolina or bread crumbs, instead use baking paper so the dough doesn’t stick to the baking tray. Heat oven to 200oC (390oF). Take a lump of dough at a time and roll into finger thick lengths that fit the moulds and join by squishing them together. If making free-form rings, make the smallest first to guide ring size progression. Make sure the rings overlap in size so they can rest on each other creating a pyramid shape. Cook the rings in the centre of the oven for about 10mins or until golden. Cool them before putting them in an air-tight box. Leave the box in the freezer for at least 24 hours. This will make the kransekaker nice and chewy.
Constructing the cake: Defrost the rings for 30mins minimum. Make icing by beating one egg white with 3dl of icing sugar. Fill the icing in an icing-bag. Assemble the cake from biggest ring to smallest using the icing as glue by zig-zagging the icing across the rings.
Decorate with tinsel, flags, party poppers, sparklers and wrapped lollies.