Follow Vi.no on Facebook and Instagram and receive newsletters by signing up here.
It’s Christmas, it’s holidays, it’s a party. We set the table with the finest dishes, put on our most beautiful clothes and our most beautiful smiles.
It’s red. There is silver, gold and glitter. There are bright and colorful balls.
Until the Christmas cookies hit the table – and everything is fine.
What is it really about traditional Norwegian Christmas cakes? Why do they have to be so gray and boring? Why do they have to be so dry? And why does everyone have to taste pretty much the same?
There’s nothing that screams “party” about Norwegian Christmas cakes.
Well, then it’s clear that five out of seven varieties using only one recipe is sure to save both time and money.
But honestly: wouldn’t it be very exciting and tempting to have five variations on the same theme?
It has been several years since I discovered Swedish Christmas cakes. And what a release it has been!
Draft cake. Gingerbread scratch cake. Christmas cake. After eight draft cakes. Stir in the cola slices. Soft gingerbread cookies. Juicy custard buns.
Just taste the words: Draft. Say. Soft. Juicy.
Even cake names carry promises and expectations of juicy delights.
After a few years of Swedish Christmas baking, i.e. a mixture of juicy Swedish and traditional Norwegian Christmas cakes, I came to the conclusion that there is only one solution:
To be totally in favor of Swedish Christmas baking.
According to old traditions, it is preferable to bake seven types of Christmas cakes – although in fact only one in ten bakes more than five types.
But now if you’re going to sweat over the cake boxes and roll, roll and bake seven times over the course of December: what cakes do you have to choose from if you want traditional cakes?
Classics often include shortcakes, serina cakes, doughnuts, pauperman, Berlin wreaths, coconut macaroons, syrup traps, wreath cake, goro and shortbread.
If you ignore the coconut macaroons (soft, mind you), the wreath cake and the doughnuts, I think it’s a pretty sad collection of Christmas cakes with an otherwise fairly consistent theme. And apart from perhaps the value of tradition, there’s not much about it that raises expectations for a juicy taste experience – or looks like a party.
Fortunately, things are moving and it can be seen that new entrants are on the way to Norwegian Christmas cake traditions.
People in Oslo are sneaking in American cookies. And brown sticks and Sarah Bernhardt are somewhat “teenage newcomers” who have begun to establish themselves as big favorites in cake boxes in other parts of the country.
If anything common can be said about them, it’s that they’re (potentially) much juicier and tastier than many of the old classics.
A few years ago I got in touch with one of Sweden’s biggest and best-known baking and cake bloggers: Fredrik Nylén, who runs the blog Fredriks Fika.
– If you are going to write about something about Sweden, it is nice to write about fika; one of our strongest traditions, suggested Fredrik – and what he would then highlight were the classics:
Cookies. Christmas cookies.
– Our cookies are the best I know! And the “seven kinds of cakes”, such as drömmar, raspberry kagrott and kola snittar – they are so unbelievably good! suggested Fredrik – and added: And you definitely shouldn’t miss the classic cinnamon bun or cardamom cake; it’s never a mistake!
Drömmar, raspberry kagrot and cola slices – or dreams, raspberry caves and caramel slices in Norwegian. So there are some of the Swede’s seven shots along with others strassburgare, kolakakor, schackrutor, brussels kex och mandelmusslor.
Have you considered that most of the Christmas cakes we think of as Norwegian actually come from abroad?
Goro, gingerbread, pauperman – all of them are actually from other countries. And of course the doughnut: it is originally imported from America.
Maybe it’s time to introduce cookie boxes for new Christmas cookies? Traditional cakes are not quite Norwegian either.
And it is quite clear:
This year I’m all for Christmas cookies followed by adjectives “hard, hard, soft or juicy”.