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.