Kransekake – A Norwegian & Danish Celebration Cake
Fifteen years ago this month, a kransekake stood tilting on the cake table at my wedding reception. Adorned with tiny Swedish and Norwegian flags, it hinted at the respective heritages of both my groom and myself. I don’t know if I even got a bite of that particular one–it’s a wonder that my husband and I even got to eat anything amidst all the bustle of the celebration. But it was significant, nonetheless, as many of you know!
With its towering concentric circles and decorative icing, kransekake is an impressive cake and delicious as well. I shared my recipe in Modern Scandinavian Baking: A Cookbook of Sweet Treats and Savory Bakes, and with my 15th wedding anniversary coming up in just a few days, I figured I’d share it here, too.
Here’s a little more about kransekake, as I wrote in Modern Scandinavian Baking:
Kransekake is a traditional Norwegian and Danish celebration cake that’s often served at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations. I’ve always seen it in a tower constructed of incrementally smaller rings, but it can also take the shape of a horn to be filled with treats. While it’s possible to see a kransekake decorated with restraint–with only the scalloped icing around each ring–this cake is typically decorated with Norwegian or Danish flags and other festive touches. It is, after all, a celebratory dessert, and the decorators often go all out to showcase this function.
While the results are impressive, the cake itself requires only a handful of ingredients and a set of kransekake cake forms, which you can find in Scandinavian specialty stores or online. I like to add a pinch of salt and boost the almond flavor with a little almond extract, but these additions are just a matter of taste.
Kransekake has a delightful texture–chewier than a cookie and light yet surprisingly sturdy, which is essential, as it needs to hold up to its towering stature.
Kransekake/Kransekage (Almond Wreath Celebration Tower)Recipe by Daytona Strong, excerpted from my book Modern Scandinavian Baking
For the dough
- 1 1/2 pounds almond flour
- 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Semolina or cornmeal for dusting the molds
For the icing
- 1 pound confectioners' sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- To make the dough, in a large mixing bowl, stir the almond flour, confectioners' sugar, cardamom, and salt together. WIth an electric mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and almond extract, mixing until a dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to a double boiler and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, working it with your hands until the dough becomes almost too hot to comfortably work with. (For this step I mix the dough in the large mixing bowl I use for my stand mixer, and set this over a saucepan of simmering water)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Allow the dough to cool a bit, prepping the molds while you wait: Spray them with a baking spray or brush with a neutral oil or softened butter, then dust with semolina or cornmeal.
- Form the dough into logs about the thickness of a finger and arrange them in the molds.
- Slide these into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until light gold. Allow to cool before assembling (some peopple even freeze the rings for 24 hours at this point, which some believe enhances the texture).
- To make the icing, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice. Transfer this to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip.
- To assemble, place the largest ring on your serving plate or cake stand, attaching it with a little of the icing. Pipe the icing over it in a curved zigzag manner, letting it form a decorative scalloped shape on the sides, then set the next largest ring on top. Repeat with the remaining rings, working biggest to smallest, until you reach the top.
If you enjoyed this kransekake recipe, you’ll find this and even more sweet and savory treats in my cookbook Modern Scandinavian Baking!
Excerpt from Modern Scandinavian Baking, by Daytona Strong, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2020 by Callisto Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
First photo, of the krasekake at my wedding, by John & Joseph Photography.
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A video would really be helpful.
Brenda Turid Flaherty
Dear Daytona: When my daughter got married back in Aug 2004, I had a Scandinavian bakery in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY, make the Kransekake tower cake. It was so exciting to see her surprise and joy! Now I read your recipe and see you have used almond flour. I am so happy because she and I are gluten free so now I can try to make this wonderful cake. My aunt in Norway mailed me a set of the tower rings to make the shapes.
Thank you for keeping the Norwegian tradition alive! What a gift your are to so many who treasure our Norwegian heritage.
Brenda Turid Flaherty
Thank you Daytona for your books and recipes. Wish I had tried the kranskage when I was much younger. Now, too old and tire easily. Maybe my granddaughters will join me.
I also make kransekake every 17 Mai, and always ground almonds. Discovered almond flower last year. Makes it so much easier. Have also discovered the joy of making cookies out of the recipe , when I don’t feel like making the rings. Instead of baking at 350, I have found that baking them at 300 for 25-30 minutes works well. Makes them a little chewier.
Knead over a double boiler?