26 August 2015

Birthday Kransekake

This year Lundulph's Mum (like my Mum earlier this year) is turning 70, so big celebrations are in the making, more on this later. But we also decided to have a small family get-together on the actual day and Lundulph kindly volunteered me to make a cake.

Now times are busy at work at the moment, so I opted to work from home during the birthdays, as Lundulph's Dad also had his birthday a few days before his Mum. Thus we stayed at their place for a few days and while Lundulph was helping out with the party plans, I sat in the guest bedroom working.

This also meant that increasingly Lundulph got more and more nervous about the cake - he hadn't seen any signs of a cake, other than some odd looking biscuity rings that had been in the freezer and had meant he wasn't allowed to rummage around for food. This because I'd decided to make it a surprise for everyone and I was quite worried that Lundulph would get upset because I hadn't made a "real, traditional" cake. But I decided to plod on with my plan.

It all started of course when I went in to Lakeland for ideas and spotted a kransekake pan set. I couldn't resist it, it's as simple as that.

And while Lundulph was enjoying the Ashes for a couple of days, I used the opportunity to make the kransekake rings.


1 kg "50/50"-type marzipan
300 g icing sugar
80 g egg whites (2 eggs approximately)
50 g butter
2 dl ground almonds

Royal icing
2 dl icing sugar
1 egg white


  1. Grate the marzipan coarsely into a large bowl.
  2. Add the icing sugar and stir together with your hand until the marzipan and sugar are mixed through.
  3. Whisk the egg whites lightly, then start adding to the marzipan mixture a little at a time, while kneading the marzipan.
  4. The mixture is ready when you can roll out a sausage of about 2 cm diameter and bend it into a circle without it cracking anywhere.
  5. Melt the butter and brush the moulds well, then sprinkle generously ground almonds and tap off the excess.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C and start rolling the marzipan mixture to about 2 cm diameter lengths.
  7. Gently lay onto each ring mould, splicing the two edges with diagonal cuts.
  8. There should be some marzipan mixture left over, use about a ping-pong ball sized piece and shape into a cone for the top of the kransekake.
  9. Bake all in the oven for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them and removing as soon as they start getting a bit of colour. Bake the top on an oven safe dish lined with baking paper.
  10. Leave to cool down complete on the moulds, before carefully removing the rings. If they've puffed up too much and stuck together, carefully first separate in the moulds with a knife.
  11. Place the rings on a large plate, with smaller rings inside the larger ones, perhaps 3 - 4 stacked. Place in plastic bags and freeze until the day before they're needed.
  12. The day before serving, remove from the freezer and let thaw in room temperature.
  13. A few hours before serving, make up royal icing by mixing about 2 dl icing sugar with some egg white. Add the egg white a little at a time into the icing sugar and keep stirring through before adding more. Continue until the consistency is such that it can be piped , but it won't drip or run.
  14. To put the kransekake together, start by stacking all the rings, with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top, to make sure you have the right order as it can be difficult to tell, the size difference between neighbouring rings is small. Then remove them one at a time and lay them out in order.
  15. Put the royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle, then pipe four small blobs at the bottom of the largest ring and place it securely onto the serving plate.
  16. Pipe waves around the top of the large ring, always starting and ending in the inside of it, as this will get hidden with the next layer.
  17. Once the whole ring has completed, carefully place the next one on top, making sure it's centered and repeat the icing waves all around, before placing the next ring on top of that.
  18. Continue until the whole pyramid has completed - you may need to stand on a chair to reach the top layers. Finish with the little cone.
  19. The kransekake is eaten, by working your way down through the layers.
IMG_4776 IMG_4777 IMG_4778

And indeed it was a great success - it's simple, yet impressive as it's so tall once assembled. It was also very sweet, so I'll try to reduce this next time. The idea with the freezing is that it will make the kransekake crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. What happened was that the 4 - 5 rings Lundulph and I took home with us, got chewier and chewier with every day they stayed in the larder. It was very nice to have a little nibble after lunch or dinner. And Lundulph was not at all upset, but how could he with all the marzipan to munch on.

Some will also melt dark chocolate and make fancy filigree decorations which are stuck in between the rings. It was my intention to do this as well, however I ran out of time and as I don't trust myself to be able to temper the chocolate, I thought I'd better not bother. Next time I will and I'll also try the alternative traditional shape - a cornucopia, with small petit fours or such spilling out of it. This, however, requires the rings to be glued together with caramel and looking at some professionally made ones, they even have special stands for support, like here from a Danish brand of marzipan, it's in Danish, but just look at the photos.

Key thing to keep in mind - there must be at least 18 rings and preferably more. At the Danish Bake-Off in 2012, the kransekake (Norwegian) or kransekage (Danish) was one of the technical challenges and had to have 20 rings. I highly recommend doing an image search on Google for ideas on how to decorate.

Finally a word on the "50/50"-type marzipan. The numbers indicate the proportions of ground almonds to icing sugar if you're making it yourself. Rather go for a 50% marzipan, which tends to be more expensive and is not as soft to work with, but that's how it should be. I actually baked my kransekake at 200° and thanks to the egg white, it puffed up. I think in my Swedish baking book, it's recommended to shape everything and then let stand for 24 h to form a dry crust, before baking. A bit tricky in the UK, especially when moving towards Autumn and there's lots of rain and moisture in the air. Might be worth a try.

21 August 2015

Cake pop success!

And so the long-planned birthday celebrations neared and I baked cake-pops and was quite successful this time, very pleased indeed and discovered new things too.



Cream cheese frosting
160 g unsalted butter
80 g cream cheese
400 g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake pop mixture
860 g leftover cake sponge
646 g cream cheese frosting

3 x 340 g blue Wilton Candy Melts
vegetable shortening
icing lace from Lakeland's magic icing powder
paper lolly sticks
large piece of polystyrene, fixed to the work surface, to push the cake pop sticks in while they set


  1. To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese, then gradually add the icing sugar and finally the vanilla.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy,
    then cover and chill for 30 minutes at least.
  3. Make sure the cake crumbs are as fine as possible,
    then add the cream cheese frosting a little at a time until the mixture texture is a bit like fudge.
  4. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
  5. Make sure there is space in the fridge before starting the next step.
  6. Roll small balls, about the size of a walnut,
    place on a tray, cover with cling film and chill again for an hour until they are firm.
  7. Melt some of the candy melts in the microwave, 10 s at a time and stirring after each burst until completely melted.
  8. Take the cake balls out from the fridge, dip a lolly stick in the melted candy and carefully push into one of the balls, to reach the centre.
  9. With your finger, wipe the melted candy around the lolly stick and put back on the tray.
  10. Repeat with the other cake balls, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until they are quite firm.
  11. Melt a couple of tbsp of vegetable shortening in the microwave and allow to cool down a bit.
  12. Now place a whole packet of candy melts in a narrow, deep bowl and melt in the microwave, again at 10 s intervals and stirring in between.
  13. When the candy melts have melted completely, add the melted vegetable shortening and stir in well, this will make the mixture a bit thinner.
  14. Take the cake pops out of the fridge, a few at a time, then dip each in the melted candy and tap the lolly on the edge of the bowl, to remove the excess.
  15. While you tap, also rotate the cake pop. When the excess has mostly been removed, gently place a piece of icing lace and push the lolly into a piece of polystyrene that has been secured to the work surface.
  16. Proceed with the remaining cake pops, only taking a few out from the fridge at a time, so they don't go soft in room temperature and fall off the sticks when dipped.
  17. If the candy melt starts setting, whizz in the microwave for another 10 s burst and if necessary add more melted vegetable shortening.
  18. Once the cake pops have set, keep in the fridge.

The cream cheese frosting recipe comes from here, where there are step by step instructions on how to make the cake pops with very useful tips and tricks. I used Philadelphia cheese, which worked very nicely.

Some time ago, I also came across this website. It offers a wide selection on various online video courses, though it requires registration and there are several free courses as well, one of which is on cake pop basics. It's quite good for decoration ideas, though I think their "standard" cake pops were too large for my liking. The ones I made were more of what was termed "mini" cake pops. The above amounts resulted in 75 cake pops.

Now for the icing lace. There are several brands out there and YouTube has plenty of videos on the topic. I bought the ones in Lakeland, which are their own brand and consists of two silicone mats and a tub of "magic icing". The instructions for the icing mixture are on the silicone mat packaging, but I took the precaution of reading all the comments on the Lakeland website, where it seems about 50% of the buyers had failed miserably and were understandably upset, whereas the other half had had great success and some of them had also written what they'd done. Now the packet instructions didn't quite match the instructions in the comments, so I decided to follow the instructions on the packet as a first attempt. But I scaled up the amounts a bit, as I don't think my kitchen scales are sufficiently precise for the minuscule amounts suggested.

Magic icing for lace
50 g magic icing powder
45 g boiling water
silicone mould mat with suitable patterns
firm plastic dough scraper

  1. Stir well with a spoon, it'll go quite stretchy and gloopy, but keep at it until the mixture is even.
  2. Wrap tightly in double cling film and leave for a few hours before using.
  3. Place the silicone mat on the work surface, unwrap the magic icing, cut a piece off with the dough scraper, then cover up the magic icing again.
  4. Now firmly run the dough scraper with the piece of magic icing over the silicone mat, pressing down so the mixture gets into the lace mould. The mixture should feel a bit like silicone sealant - pliable, but sticky.
  5. Continue to fill the silicone mat. Any left-over magic icing can be wrapped in double cling film for later.
  6. Leave the mould to dry for about 12 h, then carefully prise off the pieces of lace and store in an air-tight container.

My original intention was to use the round laces to form petals with each cake pop being the middle of a flower. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make them stick to the cake pops and they kept falling off. So a quick adaptation was to cut out the middle of each piece of lace and stick on top of each cake pop. I did try a few cake pops with sprinkles, this worked quite well, but must be done before the candy coating sets.


Needless to say that for 75 cake pops, I spent a lot of time in the days before the party, making icing laces. And as it took me a couple of silicone moulds to get the knack, I made well over 100 of the laces and there were quite a few left over.

One of the most interesting things the cake pops resulted in was that when Lundulph's Mum and Aunt tried them, there was a rush of childhood memories that came back to them - of a type of cake their Mother used to make. Some search on google came up with Russian Cake. I'm not sure how true the history of this is, but it's a very nifty way of using up scraps of sponge cake, however in this cake, jam is used as the binding agent, rather than cream cheese frosting. The texture is the same, and that's what triggered the memories.

As an aside I can also mention that Lundulph had no issues eating these either, even though there was cheese in them.

17 August 2015

Spiral Potatoes


Sometime in July there was a food festival in our village and there was one stall I'd not seen before. They did one thing only - spiral potatoes and I just had to have one, despite Lundulph's tut-tuts.

Basically what it is, an oblong baking potato is run through a spiraliser and a bamboo skewer is stuck through the middle at the same time. It is then deep-fried. Finally, the hungry buyer gets to choose a sauce or spice mixture to sprinkle on top and off she goes.

Unfortunately until we buy a new and bigger house, a spiraliser is completely out of the question, so I bought a tiny little gadget which allegedly would do the same thing, albeit with a bit more elbow grease. I carefully selected narrow baking potatoes as well, since I don't have a deep fryer either, but would need to bake the potatoes. Sadly, the two parts of the little gizmo had been put together backwards, making it completely useless, so I had to throw it away, there was no way to fix it.

Instead, I searched YouTube and found several instructional videos on spiral potatoes and also on Hasselback potatoes, so was able to create the spirals and also use the baking instructions for Hasselback potatoes. Let's face it, they are in effect the same.

So, the skewer went in through the middle of the potatoes and then carefully with a small knife, I cut the spiral. It wasn't as thin as the spiraliser at the stall, but was thin enough.


Once the full length of the potato has been spiralled, carefully stretch along the skewer. I used metal skewers with the thought that they would heat up in the oven and help bake the centre of the potatoes.


While preparing the potatoes, pre-heat the oven along with a deep baking dish to 220 °C. The baking dish should be such that the skewers can be rested on it's edges, so the potato spirals are suspended.


Brush the potatoes with a little oil when you put them in the oven and repeat a few times while they're baking. I also turned the skewers around, though I'm not sure that was actually necessary.

I don't remember how long it took to get them baked, but they were ever so tasty, I almost burnt my tongue trying to eat straight out of the oven. Lundulph was out that evening and got to try one the following night, reheated. This wasn't as good, so he wasn't very impressed, but they were looooovely!

6 August 2015

Wholemeal Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

In my search for a good muffin recipe, I came across this one, which seemed very appealing as it had wholemeal flour and coconut oil in it. How wrong I was...


Makes 12
245 g wholemeal flour
65 g caster sugar
25 g cocoa powder
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
60 g melted coconut oil
1.6 dl semi-skimmed milk
1 large egg
0.6 dl chocolate chips


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix in coconut oil, milk and egg.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips
  5. Divide up the mixture between the cases and bake for about 20 minutes.

What I got was a very stiff batter, so I used an ice cream scoop to distribute among the paper cases. This was great I thought, no dribbling or fiddling with piping bags and such. And baking worked pretty well, they achieved a very nice domed shape, another plus point for this recipe.

But then we tried them and the taste was horrible. I imagine it would taste like this if I'd used sawdust and wood chippings instead of wholemeal flour. The texture was fairly unpleasant too, they were very heavy, which is no wonder with only wholemeal and a tiny amount of baking powder.

Possibly it might work OK as a loaf, where the slices can be eaten with butter and jam, though I'm not sure it would hold together, there's no kneading to develop a gluten structure.

Lundulph obligingly ate his and half of mine, as I decided not to force it down. Lundulph's parents and his brother and partner and a neighbour also kindly agreed to try them, all of us with the same verdict - these were no good at all. And I don't think these are worth experimenting with either, there's too much that's wrong with them. Still, a useful experience.

28 July 2015

New Breakfast 2


The second breakfast recipe I tried was for "fruit porridge" and there were a couple of things I decided to ignore from the outset - one of the ingredients was celery. Just say no, that's all I'm saying. The second one was to blend the fruit together into some sort of porridge consistency. Well, that would be fruit purée, and why do that, when it's nicer to have it diced and have some textures and colours as well? Not to mention that surely if the stomach has something to digest, it might prevent getting cravings a couple of hours later?

Of course diced fruit in a bowl is a fruit salad and that would take some time to do, not enough of that in the mornings, so I prepared it on the evening before. Lundulph came into the kitchen to see what I was up to and as he saw the kiwi fruit, he decided that he'd like to try this new breakfast as well, so I made a second portion for him too.


1 portion
1 apple
1 pear
1 large kiwi fruit
a handful of raspberries and blueberries
1 tbsp crushed linseed
1 peeled hard-boiled egg


  1. Wash, peel and core the apple, then dice and place in a bowl.
  2. Wash, peel and core the pear, then dice and add to the bowl.
  3. Peel and dice the kiwi fruit and add to the bowl.
  4. Gently wash raspberries and blueberries and add to the bowl
  5. Finally sprinkle the crushed linseed over and stir through to get everything mixed and it's ready to eat along with the egg.

When I handed Lundulph his fruit salad, his only comment was that this is one big bowl of fruit, then he went off to the home office, where he tends to eat breakfast most of the time.

I had the fruit salad first and then ate the egg with a little salt. It was a bit of a struggle to eat everything and I felt rather stuffed afterwards. The idea is of course that the egg provides the protein and again, I got through up to lunch without experiencing any cravings at all.

I was telling my Mum about this too, as she's been having fruit salads with nuts for breakfast for years and she concurred that it's a very filling meal indeed.

But it is also a bit more effort than I have time for, so I only made it a couple of times. I think it would work as a dessert for two, just the fruit salad that is, minus the egg. Making it on the evening before and keeping wrapped with cling film in the fridge works quite well and if you're already cooking in the evening, this won't add too much effort.

And yes, the raspberries and blueberries were the replacement for the celery. The photo in the book actually had pomegranate pieces and I suspect that's rather nice too.

27 July 2015

New Breakfast 1


Now, my new diet books have lovely recipes and I've tried to follow their concept of palm portions, but I have a bad feeling that's too much for me anyway, perhaps because I no longer feel hungry around elevenses. In the second book there were a couple of breakfast recipes that seemed very appealing and I tried both. Here is the first one, which I've ended up sticking to, as it's a little quicker to do.


1 portion
4 tbsp cottage cheese
½ banana
4 - 5 large strawberries
1 dl heaped with blueberries
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp whole linseeds
¼ tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Scoop the cottage cheese into a bowl and slice the banana thinly over.
  2. Remove the stalks of the strawberries, wash and dice into the bowl.
  3. Wash the blueberries and add to the bowl as well.
  4. Finally add the almonds, sunflower seeds and linseeds and sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
  5. Stir to mix and eat.

Now, the palm portion concept states that the meal should consist of protein of about the size of one's palm (minus the fingers and thumb), then two fist-sized portions of veg or fruit and a fist-sized portion of carbs. This will help you keep your weight. If you want to lose weight, then swap the third fist-sized portion for veg or fruit as well. The book then provides loads of ideas for what to use in each of the food groups.

In this breakfast recipe, the cottage cheese provides the protein part and 4 tbsp are about the size of my palm. The ½ of banana counts as one fist-sized portion of fruit, the strawberries a second and the blueberries a third. I believe the nuts and seeds provide protein and some fat as well, not to mention that linseed tends to get the system going. The cinnamon is not necessary and I've forgotten it on some days, and it was still tasty. I will need to make it more seasonal, I'll have to do some research on what I can swap the strawberries and blueberries with, to make it more interesting. But it's a really nice and filling breakfast that keeps me going well up to lunchtime, no cravings at all.

Of course this takes a little longer to put together in the mornings than say müsli and milk or yoghurt, but not too bad and I think it's time well spent.

26 July 2015

Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes

This year has quite a few big birthdays in the family and next up is my Mother-in-Law. And I get the honour of making some of the desserts - cupcakes and cake pops. Lovely! So on my latest trip to my local Lakeland, I couldn't resist buying moulds for making lace out of icing. Of course it's not regular icing, it requires some special mixture to allow it to keep its shape.


And as I'm doing more and more advanced things in my baking, I have to practice in advance and this is it - try out one of the many cup cake recipes I saved from the Danish Bake-off in 2012 and combine with icing lace. Note that the original recipe is in Danish.


125 g soft unsalted butter
100 g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 tbsp lemon juice
275 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 ml salt
2 tbsp black poppy seeds
¾ dl single cream


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C (160 ° C fan-assisted) and prepare some muffin cases.
  2. Whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and incorporate well. After the final egg, also stir in the vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the poppy seeds and stir through to make sure they are well mixed.
  5. Add the flour mixture a little at a time and whisk incorporate into the butter mixture to form a thick batter. Add the cream when the batter becomes stiff and the electric whisk is struggling.
  6. Spoon or pipe into the muffin cases, filling about ⅔ of each case.
  7. Bake for 15 - 25 minutes (depending on size), test with a toothpick to see if they're ready, it should come out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

I bought slightly smaller muffin cases recently, they are much more manageable when eating and have a better balance between the cake part and the icing. So I used them and had 20 muffins from the above amounts. I should have placed them in my metal muffin tins even if they are smaller, that would have helped them keep their shape, but instead I squeezed them all into one tray and so some went rectangular as they bumped into their neighbours while baking.

IMG_4755 IMG_4756

Now for the decorations, I first went for the recommended icing in the recipe, however it split and I couldn't sort it out, but it was very tasty, so I've frozen it into creamy ice lollies. I also was reluctant to flavour it - it was supposed to be divided in 2 equal parts and one to be flavoured with lemon juice and coloured yellow and the other part to be flavoured with orange juice and coloured orange. It seemed to be a lot of the two juices to be added and I thought it would end up being rather runny.

Ingredients for icing

90 g soft unsalted butter
75 g icing sugar
250 g mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla extract
yellow food colouring

Whisk together everything until it's soft and fluffy. If it doesn't split, pipe onto the cooled down muffins. Otherwise freeze into ice lollies.

I tried to pipe the split icing with the hopes that it might force it to come together, but it started melting in my hands and I gave up. I put some giant raspberries on top, which tasted nice, but made the cupcakes so very top heavy they were not able to stand up on their own.


The next thing was to try out the icing lace. The packet instructions were for industrial amounts, I made a fifth if them and still had a blob left over. The mixture was very rubbery from the start and it took me quite a while to work out the right level of pressure to use to get the lace moulds filled enough to form a lace and yet not accidentally scrape half of the filling off. I left them to dry naturally through the day and in the evening, I dug out some ready to roll blue icing, rolled it out and cut out circles, then put the icing lace on top and it looked very pretty.

The next day, the blue icing had bled into the muffins and also picked up lots of moisture from the air, as it is very rainy at the moment. The white icing lace kept well, but also succumbed to the strong blue colour of the rolled out icing on day 2. I'll need to make another batch of the icing lace, to make sure I have the knack for Mother-in-Law's birthday party. And I also need to work out a good recipe for the cupcakes.

I personally liked the poppy seeds, they give a very nice crunch, but Lundulph thought they were more of a savoury ingredient and we both were struggling to taste the lemon. I also thought the muffins were a bit on the dry side - the original recipe called for milk, but I think using single cream should make them a bit more moist. Lundulph suggested muffins with cardamom flavouring, like a cinnamon bun basically, so that'll be the next thing to try.

I also took some to work for some of my overworked colleagues. I've not heard anything from them, so my guess is these weren't quite a hit with them either. And not surprising, work has been hectic and stressful for weeks and I'm tired and have headaches, so my baking very much reflects this. I think I need to knead a dough by hand and get some of the built-up frustration out.

Everyday Beef Burgers with Veggie Mash


Another recipe I picked from my new diet books, this time with beef. The original recipe is for 2 portions, but I scaled up to fit with the amount of mince I had to hand.


Veggie mash
300 g broccoli
300 g cauliflower
10 g chives
1 dl crème fraîche
salt and peppper

240 g onions
95 g carrots
500 g beef mince
6 tbsp crème fraîche
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper
butter for frying


  1. Start by making the mash - trim and wash the broccoli and cauliflower, then divide into florets.
  2. Steam until they go soft - each on its own, as they take different amount of time for this.
  3. Place in a large bowl and mash together, adding a little of the steaming liquid if needed.
  4. Cut the chives into the mixture, add the crème fraiche and season to taste.
  5. Peel and finely dice the onions, peel and grate the carrots finely.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together the onions, arrots, mince, crème fraîche, mustard, salt and pepper to combine well.
  7. Heat up a little butter in a frying pan, then drop handfuls of the mince mixture into it and use a spoon to shape into burgers.
  8. Fry for 4 minutes on each side.
  9. Serve with the veggie mash and mixed salad or carbs of your choice.

Sadly this was ages ago and I've forgotten if we liked it or not. I have vague memories that I wasn't too impressed with the veggie mash, but I also have a feeling I might have forgotten to add the crème fraîche. Though the burgers were really nice - the carrots did make them very juicy, though without bread and egg, they didn't really hold together very well, were quite far removed from the photo in the book, which was more of a Wallenbergare type of burger.

Luckily Lundulph remembers this dish well and commented that it was very tasty, so a repeat for sure.