Nordic Christmas recipes to try with young bakers this week

Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic Baking Book is filled with fun treats for this time of year - including this gingerbread house
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Magnus Nilsson's plan for a gingerbread house from The Nordic Baking Book
Magnus Nilsson's plan for a gingerbread house from The Nordic Baking Book

Magnus Nilsson is a careful, exacting cookbook writer, yet some of his measurements in The Nordic Baking Book are a little bit looser than others. Take his Christmas gingerbread recipe, for example, which makes “enough for a traditional, Nordic family gingerbread free-for-all – including a small gingerbread house, enough gingerbread to decorate a fairly large house and feed a small family.”

That sounds like a fair amount, but, as Nilsson says in the gingerbread section of his book, “There can be no Nordic Christmas without gingerbread and almost everyone I know bakes at least a couple of batches during the month of December.”

 

Clockwise from top left: Scanian Thick and Chewy Gingersnaps; Gingerbread; Peppernuts
Clockwise from top left: Scanian Thick and Chewy Gingersnaps; Gingerbread; Peppernuts

The book even includes plans for A Gingerbread House, and a few practical hacks when it comes to assembling those constituent parts into a sturdy, sweet dwelling.

“Once cool, glue the pieces together using melted sugar,” Nilsson advises. “Melt the sugar in a cast-iron pan and heat it until light golden. For those who are not going to eat their dusty old gingerbread house when it is done decorating a room (a month later), I would recommend using a glue gun instead; it makes the building a lot easier.”

 

Clockwise from top left: Glazed Individual Almond Tarts; Berlin Crowns / Egg Kringles; Rolled Tuiles; Danish Glazed Raspberry Squares; Shortbread and Almond Tarts; Almond Tart Shells
Clockwise from top left: Glazed Individual Almond Tarts; Berlin Crowns / Egg Kringles; Rolled Tuiles; Danish Glazed Raspberry Squares; Shortbread and Almond Tarts; Almond Tart Shells

No such shortcuts are required for his Almond Tart Shell recipe. These delicate, dished confections are “often served with a bowl of whipped cream and some berries or jam on the side,” he writes. “To me they are an essential part of the sweet selection of the Swedish Christmas dinner.”

And, if you and your kids have a sweet tooth, you can also try Knäck which is Swedish Christmas Toffee. “Knäck is the Swedish word for ‘break’, and I assume that it refers to the texture of the finished sweet,” writes Nilsson. “Personally I like my Knäck a bit chewy and so I cook it for a slightly shorter time.”

While Knäck “is considered essential during the Christmas weeks by most Swedish families,” Nilsson doesn’t necessarily include every traditional aspect in his version.

“Most recipes for Knäck include a couple of tablespoons of chopped almonds, while others include breadcrumbs,” he writes, and some recipes include both. While I have never understood the breadcrumbs, I do like the almonds.”

 

The Nordic Baking Book

You can get the full recipes for all these by buying a copy of The Nordic Baking Book here.


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