Norwegian Kransekake

Kransekake, the main piece on a Norwegian partytable. Kransekake, with its tower of granulated almond paste rings, is the signature cake of Norway and a staple at wedding, anniversary, birthday, and holiday celebrations.

This cake is the Crown Jewel of what my mother taught me. She used to make this for so many parties for family but also as orders from people in the community who had special celebrations. So I saw her making these since I was born and even got to help as I was growing up.

The Kransekake my mother made for my Konfirmation

The special Kransekake molds typically used to prepare this remarkable cake are worth the investment, for in addition to preparing special-occasion cakes, you can also use the cookie-like kransekake rings to form one-of-a-kind edible baskets and cornucopias as lovely centerpieces for your table throughout the year.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups water
  • 500 grams raw whole almonds
  • 500 grams confectioner’s sugar plus 3-4 cups for frosting
  • 3-4 egg whites plus 2 egg whites for frosting
  • 2 tsp almond extract plus 1 tsp for frosting
  • 2 tbsp potato starch flour

Tools and Decorations:

Kransekake rings/pans (optional)

Almond grinder

Edible or crystallized flowers, ribbons, candies, or flags

Top-decoration could be added (a wedding couple for a wedding etc) Here I just used flowers.

I make my own marzipanflowers and leaves.

Instructions:

Pour the water in a pan and blanche 1/2 half of the raw almonds in boiling water until the nuts float to the top of the pot, about 5 minutes.

Rinse the newly blanched almonds in a colander under cool water. Remove and discard skins.

Your unblanched almonds need to be completely dry before grinding. Place on a baking sheet and allow to air dry over night.

Grind the unblanched almonds in an almond grinder or a coffee / spice grinder (don’t use a food processor for this, for it will over-process the almond flour). Repeat the process with the blanched and dried almonds. Mix together the unblanched and blanched almond flours and the confectioner’s sugar. Then, run this mixture through your grinder a second time.

Combine the ground almond-sugar mixture with 3-4 egg whites and 2 tsp almond extract. 

Knead the almond paste mixture over low heat until the sides of the paste pull away from the pot, about 5 minutes. The paste will have the consistency of homemade play dough. Wrap the paste in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Preheat your oven to 200 C º. Flour a pastry board or clean counter with potato starch flour; butter and dust six kransekake pans (if using) with potato starch flour. Roll the almond paste into 18 1,3 cm”-wide “snakes,” descending in length – in 1,3 cm increments – from about 50 cm” long to 30″ long. Fit the snakes into the molds, pinching the ends together tightly to form rings (Note: with this dough you can easily re roll a few snakes if you’ve miscalculated the lengths so that they are evenly divided to fit the granulated rings of the kransekake molds). Fit the lengths into the kransekake molds.

Alternatively, if not using kransekake molds, shape each of the 18 lengths into a ring and place on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.

Bake in the center of oven about 10 minutes, until the rings turn a light gold. Watch carefully, as they will burn quickly if unattended.

Remove rings from oven and allow to cool in pans.

Rap the pans lightly on a counter to loosen, running a knife between the rings if necessary to separate. Then, carefully remove the largest ring, invert it, and place it on a serving or cake plate. Mix together the confectioner’s sugar, 2 egg whites, almond extract, and lemon juice to make a thick frosting. Place into pastry bag (small tip) or in a plastic freezer bag with the end snipped off. Pipe the frosting in a wavy pattern around the circumference of the bottom ring (the frosting, while decorative, also serves as the glue that will hold the cake together).

Repeat this step for each of the remaining rings, working from the largest up to the smallest. The finished cake will look like a Fisher-Price ring toy (but will taste far better!).

Decorate with edible dried marzipan flowers and leaves or crystallized flowers and ribbons if using as a wedding or special occasion cake. Or, do as the Norwegians do and decorate your tower with flags.  To make the Kransekake stick together you can also use melted sugar as glue. Melt sugar in a frying pan and use a wooden spatel or knife to put some on the rings to make them stick together. Be really careful since the melted sugar get extremely hot and you can burn yourself. Use melted sugar to even glue the flowers and leafs or decorations.

When serving the Kransekake you can use it as a table decoration and place extra rings in broken pieces around to be eaten first. As these end you take loose rings from the bottom and break into pieces and keep the remaining cake in tact for decoration. Left overs can be frozen and taken out to eat at any time and will taste as good as new, maybe even better!

This time I made it for my daughters graduation party. And since she is also a soccerplayer and going to the USA to study at college and play soccer I made a special twist on the cake, just for her. So instead of only flowers I made graduation hats and soccerballs for decoration as well as roses. It is all made in marzipan and colored and painted with eatable colors. The decorations I made and then dried. This in order to be able to glue them to the cake. The glue is melted sugar.

I even made one for her graduation from College and some for other occations. And I made my own twists to the decorations.

How to make marzipan and marzipan flowers and leaves:

Homemade marzipan:

  • 500 g almonds grinded in an almond grinder
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 1 eggwhite

Heat the almonds and egg whites in i thick bottomed pan on low heat and mix all the time until it becomes a sticky, shiny dough, than take it off and cool and mix the icing sugar in while kneading with your hands until all sugar is in and it is a white soft dough.

When you have made the dough, roll out the marzipan to a cover with a rolling pin and put on the cake. Leave some small parts to color for flowers and leaves.

To make flowers and leaves you roll the marzipan to a thin film and cut out the leaves. Flowers can be shaped by cutting half circles with an egg cup for instance and making the roses, adding the halves outside of each other.

“False marzipan”

  • 60 g flour
  • 1 dl cream
  • 3-400 g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tragacanth (can be bought in drugstores/pharmacies and this makes the marzipan hold together so it is possible to roll it to a thin cover)
  • 50 g almonds (you can eliminate this and use almond drops instead) or just leave it completely)

Heat the cream and the flour in a thick bottomed pan on low heat while all the time stirring. Stir until you have a shiny dough that forms like a ball. Take it off the heat and cool down. Add the icing sugar and tragacanth by kneading the dough by hands. Add icing sugar until the marzipan feels like it can be rolled to a cover and tastes like marzipan. Too little icing sugar it will taste too much flour and not sweet enough.

When you have the wished consistency take some small parts and color with food color for the decorations.

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