Farmor doesn’t use recipes so it is mighty hard to get any kind of standard from her. For her pepperkaker recipe, she gave me a little sheet of paper with primitive-Norwegian writing (Farmor is actually from the Swedish part of Finland) with a simple method:
syrup, butter, sugar and milk
bring to boil with spices
the dough stands until next day
roll out thinly
cut into slices
Hm… So I thought it best to just watch her and take pictures.
Farmor always laughs and shakes her head at me when I’m in the kitchen with her taking pictures of every move she makes. She can’t believe that someone could be so interested in her normal, boring routines. But her dance around the kitchen could never be more intriguing to me. Without a thought she picks up, what seems to be any old spice laying around, and puts in a finger of this and a handful of that. It can be a little hard to keep up. But from the pictures I took, let’s see if I can work the recipe out for you.
Preparation time – two days! The pepperkaker needs to sit over night so make sure you prepare it at least the day before you want to bake and decorate it. Have cookie cutters on hand.
a large cup of milk (at least 250-300mls, I guess)
1 tsp chunky pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
900g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate soda
In a large pot put in syrup, butter, sugar and milk. Melt together lightly on the stove.
Add in cinnamon and cloves. Stir with whisk to mix.
Add in pepper. Mix with whisk.
Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
Take off heat. Add in flour and bicarbonate soda. Mix with whisk.
Mix well. Dough is perfect when it is a little stretchy. Use the whisk to stretch it up to see.
Put on lid and leave overnight.
Farmor puts the mixture outside in the snow to keep it cold but I guess you can just put it in your fridge. The next day the dough is tough and ready to use. Set on the bench to become room temperature before use.
Heat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Knead pepperkake mix to warm a little; you might need a little more flour to prevent sticking. Take a portion and roll out with plenty of flour – thin for small decorations with crunch, a little thicker for bigger decorations or for softer cookies for eating.
Dip cookie-cutters in flour and cut dough. Make sure to put holes in each cookie if you want them to hang on the tree or in the window. Put cut-dough onto a sheeted baking tray. Cook for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. For a softer cookie, just cook for less time. The dough will actually become lighter in the oven first before it starts to turn brown again.
Cool before decorating.
For how to decorate your pepperkaker see our post Decorating Pepperkaker. It’s a fun traditional activity for the kids.
For a conventional recipe see Pepperkaker Recipe.