Tag Archives: cardamom

Celine’s Aebelskivers

Have I mentioned how great it is to have been brought up Norwegian?  My son, who is even less Norwegian than I am, is as pleased as I’ve always been to enjoy the special yumminess found in Scandinavian holiday treats.   Mom started it all.  She adored all things Scandinavian, baking all kinds of traditional holiday recipes, including these light little pillows of yumminess from Denmark, aebelskivers. yum1

Here it is almost Christmas, and I have piles of cookies and breads and candies and nuts to keep me happy for months, but still I felt compelled yesterday to add to my dragon’s horde and make aebelskivers.  Especially after reading that they freeze well and then reheat beautifully in the oven for a traditional Scandinavian Christmas breakfast.  Aebelskivers originally had bits of apple or applesauce inside–aebel means apple.  They are also made plain, like my Mom’s recipe, and served with applesauce or a berry jam on the side.  I like lingonberry–a Scandinavian cranberry-esque fruit.  Find lingonberry in your natural foods market or at IKEA.  Yup, IKEA.  You can also buy pre-made mixes from places like Williams Sonoma.  (Mom bough these for me.)  They are yummy, but are pretty much the same in prep time as scratch-made.


The manufacturer of my glass-top range says cast iron is a no-no because it could damage the glass.  I pouted for a year over this because I knew it meant no aebelskivers for me.  Traditional aebelskiver pans like mine are cast iron.

traditional aebelskiver pan

William Sonoma has a variety of electric and stove-top pans and accessories.  I wasn’t quite ready to spend sixty bucks plus shipping for a treat I generally make only once a year.  I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it and nearly ordered one when…

Cake pops became all the rage and electric cake pop makers began “popping” up all over.  They make little spherical cakes, and aebelskivers are spherical.  Could a cake pop maker be used for aebelskivers?!  Between a coupon and a sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, I procured a Babycakes cake pop maker for about $15 and set out to find out.  YES!  The abelskivers are smaller, but just as yummy.  Good news for those of you already in possession of a cake pop maker!

All you need are a cake pop maker and a few ingredients:


  • 2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom, optional
  • powdered sugar
  • applesauce or berry jam to serve

If you don’t keep buttermilk around, measure any milk (I used regular, unsweetened almond milk) and add the lemon juice to it and allow it to “curdle” a bit.

add lemon juice to milk

Meanwhile, separate the eggs, making sure the whites get into a clean glass or metal bowl for better whipping results.

separate eggs

Lightly beat the yolks and add the milk, sugar and salt.

egg yolks milk sugar and salt

Then add the flour, soda, and baking powder.  Add cardamom here if using.  I completely forgot the cardamom until I was nearly done baking the aebelskivers!  Sorry Mom!  I’ll put it in next time for sure!

add flour and soda and baking powder

Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites to a stiff peak.

beat whites to stiff peak

Gently fold in the whites in two batches.  This takes a while–be patient to maintain as much fluff as possible.  This fluff is what will make your aebelskivers so pillowy.

add half of whites

fold in second half

Spray the cake pop maker lightly with spray oil and wipe away any excess to avoid smoking up your kitchen as the appliance heats.  Yup.  Know this from experience.  Heat the cake pop maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then fill the wells brim-full with batter.  My cake pop maker has 1 tablespoon-sized wells which are conveniently filled with a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop!

fill wells full

Fill as quickly as you can and close the lid to bake.  I baked mine for 6 minutes.  Your cake pop maker may take more or less time.  If you use a regular aebelskiver pan, wait for the tops to get bubbly–like you do for pancakes–and then gently turn them over in their wells using a wooden skewer or knitting needle or little tools made specifically for this purpose.  If you’re feeling adventurous, fill the wells only 2/3 full and add a wee bit of applesauce or jelly before adding the last 1/3 of batter per well.  I use a 1/4 tsp measure to add jam for my tiny cake pop-sized aebelskivers.

close lid and bake

Use the little prong thingie that comes with a cake pop maker or a thin wooden skewer or knitting needle to remove your perfect little aebelskivers.  Place them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Use a small sieve for this or purchase a powdered sugar shaker from a kitchen store–worth the money!  (Look around, I know mine wasn’t as pricey as the one linked to.)  They have lids, so powdered sugar can be stored in it, making it ready to use whenever you need it.

sprinkle with powdered sugar

This recipe makes 6 or 7 dozen one-inch aebelskivers.


While a batch is baking, get out a pretty plate and some lingonberry jam and do a taste test.   Dip each pillowy bite in the jam and enjoy.


Keep adding to your mountain of aebelskiver wonderfulness, sugaring each layer.


If you plan to freeze your aebelskivers for later, let them cool completely before placing in a freezer bag.  The aebelskivers will freeze separately from one another, allowing you to take out only how many you want. Then when you’re ready, bake them in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  Sugar them again and serve with applesauce or jam.  Oh, yum-yum-yummy!


Christmas traditions always make the season cozy for me.  I find myself reaching back into the past to bring some of that childhood Christmas magic to my adulthood.  This year, I found a wee, tiny tinsel tree that reminded me of the big one my grandparents had.  I selected ornaments that are reminiscent of the time and lit it with battery-powered color-changing LED lights.  The sun made it sparkle yesterday.

tinsel tree1

tinsel tree 2

Back in the day, these tinsel trees were lit with a color wheel aimed at the tree.  The wheel turned, bathing the tree in a progression of colors–red, blue, yellow, and green–that were at their most wonderful at the juncture between colors.  It was like waves of color moving across and reflected by the tinsel.  Spectacular, and pure Christmas magic.  I hope your holidays bring you some of the magic from your childhood.  Merry Christmas!


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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dessert, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe, snack

Celine’s Krumkake

A krumkake is a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie cooked on a special griddle and then rolled into a cone shape.  They are beautiful, delicate, crisp and lightly seasoned with cardamom.  You can fill them with whipped cream or custard or whatever sounds yummy to you, but my Mom never did, so I don’t either.  As much as my sister and I loved these, It might be that Mom didn’t fill them because they were gone before she had a chance!  Mom made piles of krumkaker (the plural of krumkake) every Christmas along with other Scandiavian yummies like lefse, kringla, rosettes, and aebelskivers.  She had a little sign in her kitchen the stated “Tis a blessing to be Norwegian;” a sentiment I must agree with, especially whenever there are treats like these around!


To get started, you’ll need a krumkake iron and cone form.  I don’t remember where I got my original iron that sits on a stove burner, but I bought my electric one at a local kitchen store.  Both can be found online, and having used both, I’m preferring the electric iron.

2 kinds of irons

Then, gather up a few things for a simple batter and you’re ready to go!


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Lightly beat the eggs,

beat eggs

and then add sugar, starch, flour, vanilla and cardamom.  Stir to combine.

mix eggs sugar starch flour cardamom and vanilla

Then add the melted, cooled butter.  (The butter should still be liquid, just not so hot as to cook the eggs!)

add butter

Stir to a smooth batter.

mix til smooth batter

Heat iron according to the manufacturer’s directions, and spray lightly with spray oil.

spray iron with oil

Place 1 TBSP of batter near the center of the heated iron for a 4-inch krumkake, or 2 TBSP for a 6-inch krumkake.  This recipe will make 1 1/2 dozen 6-inch or 3 dozen 4-inch krumkaker.  I used a 1 TBSP cookie scoop to place my batter on the iron.

2 TBSP for a 6 inch krumkake

Close the lid and press lightly to distribute the batter.  One of the coolest things about the electric iron is that you don’t have to turn it over while cooking like you do with the stove-top iron.  Love it!

close and press to distrubute batter

Check after a minute to see if the krumkake is the shade of brown you like–I like mine fairly light.  See how this krumkake has gotten outside the patterned section of the iron?  Too much batter.  I used a wee bit less better for the next ones and ended up with prettier cookies, but they’re yummy no matter what!

cook til desired brownness

When ready, remove from the iron using a fork or small spatula, and place on a paper towel.  Immediately position the cone form like this:

place form on hot krumkake

Quickly roll the krumkake around the form while it is still hot.  This gets easier as you go.  I messed up the first one because I let it get too cool while I took pictures–it cracked as I rolled it.  My son was more than happy to “take care of” my ugly krumkake.  😉

roll to a cone

Gently press the form over the seam to help set the cone shape.  I leave the form sitting in the cone as I add more batter to the iron.  Then remove the form!  Look at the pretty cookie you just made!

remove form

Stack them up on a plate or platter to cool and become crisp.  This platter was a gift from my Mom from her favorite Scandinavian gift shop, Vanberia.


I think they’re pretty stacked on top of each other like this.



The iron makes a beautiful almost tapestry-like pattern in each cookie.  So pretty!  My cousin’s husband sculpted the Santa that has been keeping my krumkaker company, and the cute little towel was in a tub marked “Norwegian Tree”  that I brought home from Mom’s house.


Here are some more Santas– hand carved, painted and accessorized by a friend of my Mom’s–Mr Barnett.  My sister and I went to school with his daughters.   Mr. Barnett carved a different Santa each year; Mom bought one for herself every year and sometimes bought them for my sister and me.  I love the different faces, beard details and little details of the clothing and accessories.



I usually have them above my kitchen cabinets, to keep them a bit more cat-safe, but brought them down to take their pictures.  Just love them.  What are your favorite Christmas decorations?


Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe

Apple Pie Filling (To make now and freeze for later!)

When I was little, my Mom was the queen of Thanksgiving dinner.  Turkey and all the fixin’s, often other game meats as well, and pies of course.  Mincemeat for Dad, pumpkin, and apple.  After our fall trips to Wisconsin for apples and cheese, she’d organize my sister and I along with herself into a pie-building assembly line to make a jillion-jillion apple pies to put in the freezer, crust and all, ready to bake.  At least two of these were thawed and baked for Thanksgiving dinner.  I still make apple pies in the fall and winter, and always for Thanksgiving. The pie tradition continues into the day after Thanksgiving–one MUST have pie for breakfast that day!  Why am I blogging about Thanksgiving in August?  A free box of apples landing in my kitchen this week, that’s why.  🙂

Our friend, the winemaker at Reeder Mesa Winery, has summer apple trees–the kind that get ripe at the end of July.  These apples are green and tart and perfect for pie.  He called the other day and asked if we’d like a box….well, of course!  However, July and August are usually not my choice for pie baking, so why not make the filling now and bake when I crave fresh hot, spiced apple wonderfulness this fall?!  Of course, I couldn’t resist baking one, for blogging purposes–the last bag of filling just happened to fall right into a crust!  If you’re more of an apple crisp sort of person, this filling is perfect for that as well.  Or maybe use it inside some cinnamon rolls?  Mmmmmm!


I found this recipe on line and adjusted the spices a bit.  Here’s what you’ll need to make filling for one eight-inch pie.  I made my filling in one-pie batches, but if it works better for you to do one giant batch and divide it out, do that.  I found I memorized the recipe, which made it easy, and liked that the peeling and slicing didn’t need to happen all at once.


  • 8-9 small to medium apples
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice 
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom

Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Place them in a bowl that has water and a splash of lemon juice to help stop browning.

peel and quarter

Thinly slice the apples, but don’t worry if they’re not perfectly the same.  The pie or crisp you make from this filling will be so yummy, no one will be measuring your pieces.  Just keep them close enough to cook evenly.  Add the rest of the ingredients.

slice and add sugar etc

Stir until well combined.


Place in a freezer ziploc, label and freeze up to 3 months.

bag label freeze

To bake a pie later, thaw the filling, preheat oven to 375F, and prepare a crust.  I’m a huge fan of those rolled, ready to use crusts.  Place one in the bottom of the pie pan, and trim excess.  Add your super-yummy filling, mounding it a bit in the center.

thaw place in crust

Place the top crust, trim excess, fold it under the bottom crust, and crimp it closed with your fingers making it all pretty, or use a fork to crimp the edges down.  Do it however your Mom did; it will feel just right that way.  Cut vents in the top–again, use Mom’s pattern.  Brush the top and edges with a bit of milk–dairy or non-dairy–and sprinkle with sugar.  Isn’t that pretty?

add top crust

Bake 55-60 minutes; until the vents ooze with bubbling yummy sauce.


Let it cool to let the yummy sauce firm up, or cut it warm and have a delicious ooze perfect with ice cream.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream if you like.  Oh.  Yum.


Yup, just like Mom used to make.  What’s your favorite pie?




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Filed under breakfast, Canning and preserving, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe, Vegetarian

Sonia’s Christmas Tree Breads

My sister used to make these beautiful and tasty loaves every Christmas; the cardamom used gives them a Scandinavian flavor.  I keep up the tradition now that we live in different parts of the state; I have her recipe–handwritten on spiral notebook paper.  They’re a bit more fussy than a regular yeast bread, but so, so worth it!  Mr18 is a big fan of them.  I was considering skipping them this year as I had just baked a couple pulla loaves, but asked him if we should have the tree breads, too.  He decided we needed them. 🙂

bake til golden

The ingredients are similar to a Finnish Pulla, challah or brioche.


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom (I use 1/2 tsp–LOVE cardamom!)
  • 6-7 cups all purpose, unbleached flour

For the filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • additionally, you will need 3 TBSP butter to brush on the dough

For topping:

  • 1 egg
  • splash of milk
  • large granuled sugar

First proof the yeast by whisking it into the warm water.  Set aside for 5 minutes–it should start to foam and have the recognizable yeasty smell by then.

proof yeast

Scald milk (Heat over low until steam rises and little bubbles form along the edge of the pan), remove from heat and melt the butter into it.  Cool to lukewarm.

scald milk melt butter

In a large bowl, add the yeast mixture, milk and butter, sugar, eggs, salt and cardamom.  Stir until combined.  You can do this by hand or use a mixer.

add sugar salt cardamom eggs

Gradually add 6-7 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing in between.  It was humid when I baked this, so I ended up using the full 7 cups this time.  Add until you have a stiff, but not dry dough.

add flour a cup at a time

Knead on a floured surface or using a dough hook on your mixer for 5 to 7 minutes.  If using the dough hook, stop a minute or two early and finish kneading by hand to get a feel for the dough.  Form it into a smooth ball.


Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover and place in a warm place until doubled in size.

place in greased bowl and cover

Punch it down to deflate, cover it again and let it rise for an additional 30 minutes.

While dough rises, combine the topping ingredients: sugar, cinnamon and nuts.  Set aside.  Melt the 3 TBSP butter and set it aside as well.

mix cinnamon sugar nuts

When dough is finished with its second rise, knead it just enough to deflate it and divide into 3 equal parts.

divide into thirds

On a lightly floured surface, roll EACH part into a triangle approximately 15 inches at the base and 12 to 15 inches high.  Use your hands and the rolling pin to shape the dough.

roll to a triangle

Brush 1/3 of the melted butter on the surface of the dough and sprinkle it with 1/3 of the topping.

butter and cinnamon mixture

Roll up the triangle, starting with one side, maintaining a triangular shape.

roll from side

Flatten the rolled triangle a bit with your hands or lightly with the rolling pin.

rolled triangle

Move the triangle to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.  (Each tree will need its own baking sheet.  Cut gashes all the way through at an angle, about 3/4 inch apart down both sides of the tree.  Cut out the side of each bottom branch to form the trunk.

angled cuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

On both sides, starting from the top, stretch and fold/turn each section to form branches.  I pick them up and turn them away from me to reveal the layers.  Gently press the branches to help them stay put, cover the tree with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until puffy–30 to 45 minutes.

turn each branch and flatten

Brush each tree with egg wash, sprinkle with large granuled sugar and bake 20-25 minutes–until golden.

brush with egg wash and sugar

Cool on the pans. Doesn’t this look amazing?

upclose and yummy

Slice and enjoy!  Oh these are soooo yummy, and I get to think of my sissy with every bite!

yum 2

And with a “grasshopper” drink, Christmas is here!  The perfect Christmas eve treat.

yum 3

This recipe could be made any time of year, as trees, or rolled into rectangles for a non-Christmas specific shape.  Lovely for a brunch, for tea, for a hostess gift…..  Mr18 has requested we bake another batch so he can take a fresh one back to college with him.






Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe

Finnish Pulla Bread

Are you a fan of challah or brioche?  A fan of Scandinavian foods?  A fan of anything involving bread?  If you said yes to at least one of these, you’ve just got to give pulla a try.  Tender texture, slightly sweet, spiced with cardamom, and flat-out gorgeous.  I amazed myself with how lovely this bread turned out.

This recipe comes from Baking With Julia, a book generated by the PBS series of the same name.  It’s not one of Julia’s recipes, but rather one from a guest chef, Beatrice, Ojakangas.  Pulla is really no more difficult than making any bread.  Gather what you need and prepare to amaze yourself!

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (abou 110F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (about 7 pods if you choose to grind them yourself)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
  • 4 1/2-5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Just before baking:

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 TBSP milk for glaze
  • Sliced or slivered almonds, if desired
  • large-granuled sugar

Place milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and scald it–heat until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.  Watch the pot carefully–milk can go from scalded to boiled-over to burned very quickly!  Remove from heat and cool to 105-115F.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into warm water.  Whisk to combine and set aside for 5 minutes for yeast to dissolve completely and become creamy.

Whisk in milk, sugar, cardamom, salt and eggs.

Stir in 2 cups flour to make a smooth batter.

Stir in butter.

Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time until you have a stiff, but not dry dough.  You might not need the entire 5 cups.  I used a stand mixer, adding flour until the dough pulled away from the sides.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Remove dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  I left mine in the bowl of the mixer and let the dough hook knead it for 8 minutes, adding wee bits of flour when the dough started climbing over the top of the hook, or when the dough was sticking to the bottom.  I hand-kneaded for the last two minutes until I had a satiny dough ball.

Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, turning once so the top is buttered.  Cover with the same piece of plastic wrap used while the dough rested, and let rise at room temperature until doubled.  45 minutes-1 hour.  This time of year, my house is too chilly for a good rise, so I ended up setting the bowl on top of my dryer while I did laundry.  Worked like a charm!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Turn the dough onto a cool, lightly oiled, working surface.  (The recipe suggests rubbing an ice-filled metal pan over your surface to cool it if your kitchen is very hot.  My counter felt cool to the touch, so I went right to the next step.)  Knead just until the dough deflates and the air has been worked out.  Divide dough into two equal portions to create two braided loaves. (Pulla is traditionally formed into a wreath.  Do not divide in two if you want a wreath.)

Divide each half into three equal portions. (Same for the wreath, you’ll divide the original amount of dough into three.)

Using your hands, roll each portion into a rope, about 18 inches long,  (36 inches long for the wreath.)

Lay three pieces side-by-side and braid from the center down, pinching the ends.  (For the wreath, start at one end and braid all the way to the bottom.)

Turn the braid so the loose ends face you and braid the other half, pinching the ends.  (For the wreath, form the braid into a circle, pinching the ends together.  You can also cut about 1 inch of dough from each end of the braid prior to joining it into a circle.  Use the cut-off dough to fashion a bow to cover the place where the ends join.)

Place the loaves or wreath on the prepared pan, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until puffy, but not doubled.  About 45 minutes.  I set my pan on top of the stove.  The heating oven made it warm enough to rise nicely.

Whisk egg and milk together for the egg wash glaze.

Brush egg wash over every exposed surface of the bread, including sides and ends.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on a rack in the middle of your oven, 20-25 minutes, until golden.  Do not over-bake.  Mine were perfect in 20 minutes.  The aroma created by these loaves is heavenly!

Aren’t they pretty?  No more difficult than any bread really, but so much more special.  Uber-yummy all on its own, or with butter, or jam or melty brie, or…….!  Perfect for the holidays or anytime you want a bakery-quality bread from your own kitchen!  Perfect to take to the holiday party you’re invited to, lovely as a gift with a jar of jam.

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Filed under comfort food, food gifts, Holiday foods, Potluck, side dish