Friday, December 9, 2016

Kransekage (Danish Wreath Cake) part one

I made my first Kransekage for a friend's wedding recently.   And had so much fun with it.
And yes it's a trifle over the top, but hey, it's a WEDDING CAKE!!!
The ribbons on the cake are for the separate heritages of the bride and groom. A little Danish, a little Italian, a little Polish and some American.  
The flags are for their favorite football teams, there was a game that day.  They both love football.
Kransekage

A Kransekage or Danish Wreath Cake is a traditional cake made for celebrations in a Dane's life. 
They're made for weddings, birthdays, special events, celebrations and Christmas.


I had one at my wedding, many years ago.  A friend of my parents, Anna Hansen made it.  She was known for her Kransekage back then.   My sister made my other wedding cake, which was a traditional Canadian cake, a wonderful moist fruitcake covered in fondant.
And the tradition continued.  Although my brother took over making the cakes.   He's one amazing baker.
If anyone is getting married or having a major life celebration, he's got the cake for it.   He also makes his own almond paste. 
I'm not that ambitious.  I bought mine.

I got the basic recipe from My Danish Kitchen, and then looked in all my Danish cookbooks (I've got a few and some are even in English).  And basically got a consensus.  (OK so I averaged it out)
The basic recipe is Almond Paste, Egg Whites and Confectioners Sugar. You can also use regular sugar, but I choose not to.  I'm just not that ambitious.
Yet.

This recipe makes 18 rings, which is exactly how many I needed for the cake.  And did I mention I have special pans to bake them in?  No, well I do, thanks to one of my sister's gifting me them a couple of years ago.
 
Recipe: Kransekage
750 grams Almond Paste  (3 boxes of Solo Almond Paste 8 oz or 227 gram boxes)
2-3 egg whites, lightly beaten (I used Extra Large Ones)
4 cups Confectioners sugar
 
Using a stand mixer, if you have one, add the egg whites and half the confectioners sugar to the bowl.  Start it on low, and mix, as soon as it is mixed add the remainder of the sugar.  Mix well. 
Open the packages of Almond Paste and chop them up into smaller pieces.  Or crumble them using your fingers.  Add to the mixing bowl a little at a time, letting it incorporate, (not all at once like I did. sheesh). Mix  it well.  Once it's all incorporated, dump it out onto a clean work surface.   Divide the dough in half.  Wrap it well, and put into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  It needs to rest and get over the strenuous activity.  You can even leave it in the fridge overnight.  The next day or a few hours later, take out the dough and knead it a little.   Then divide half of it into thirds and the other half into quarters. (We're doing some math here, sorta).  This is kinda tricky here.  You're going to be making 18 rings, but those rings are not all the same size.
I used rings that are made for Kransekage, which is kinda cheating, but not.  It has graduated sizes so that when the Kransekage is baked, they can stack properly.
Grease the pans with some cooking spray and sprinkle a little semolina in, this helps them to release from the forms.
Once you have the dough divided you want to roll it out into ropes about as big around as a finger.   I like to roll out all the dough, and make sure it's all the same size.
This is a very sticky dough and you'll need to wash your hands a lot while handling it.  Trust me on this, it loves to stick to the fingers.  Although, and pardon me purists, I took a little confectioners sugar and sprinkled it on the dough as I was rolling it into ropes and it made it a lot easier to work with.  Not a lot, just enough to stop the major sticky part. 
Take each rope, and coil it around on the pans, starting with the largest ring first.  Pinch the ends together to make the ring.  
I started with the largest and worked my way down to the smallest.
As you put each ring into the form, smooth it out as best you can so that it looks even (ish).   Once you're finished with them all, you need to bake them.
I put them on a rimmed baking pan, and was able to fit three rings on each one.
Bake at 390 degrees for about 15-18 minutes or until the rings are done.  Take them out and let them cool a little in the ring forms. 


Tomorrow I'll tell you how to assemble and decorate and will also share a few pictures of some of the Kransekage which graced various weddings and celebrations I've attended.    I think I might even have a few pictures tucked away pre-digital age, and I'll see if I can find those and scan them in. 



 

yield: 1 cake, serves manyprint recipe

Kransekage

prep time: 20 MINScook time: 20 MINStotal time: 40 mins
Kransekage is a classic celebration cake in Denmark. It's made for Christmas, Birthdays, special occasions or just because. This gluten free candy like cake is perfect year round for almost anyone.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 750 grams Almond paste (3- 8 oz. boxes of Solo Almond Paste or three 227 gram boxes)
  • 2-3 egg whites, lightly beaten (I used extra large or jumbo eggs)
  • 4 cups confectioner sugar
Royal Icing
  • 1 1/2  Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 2 cups Confectioner Sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons warm water.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  Using a stand mixer, if you have one, add the egg whites and half the confectioners sugar to the bowl.  Start it on low, and mix, as soon as it is mixed add the remainder of the sugar.  Mix well.  
  2.   Open the packages of Almond Paste and chop them up into smaller pieces.  Or crumble them using your fingers.  Add to the mixing bowl a little at a time, letting it incorporate. Mix  it well.  Once it's all incorporated, dump it out onto a clean work surface.  
  3. Divide the dough in half.  Wrap it well, and put into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight.  The next day or a few hours later, take the dough out and knead it a little. 
  4. Next, divide half of it into thirds and the other half into quarters. (We're doing some math here, sorta).  This is kinda tricky.  You're going to be making 18 rings, but those rings are not all the same size, so you don't need equal amounts. You will also want to reserve a little dough for the topper. I used rings that are made for Kransekage, to bake these in. They have graduated sizes so that when the Kransekage is baked, they can stack properly. Grease the pans with some cooking spray and sprinkle a little semolina in, this helps them to release from the forms. Once you have the dough divided you want to roll it out into ropes about as big around as a finger.   
  5.  I like to roll out all the dough, and make sure it's all the same size. This is a very sticky dough and you'll need to wash your hands a lot while handling it.  Trust me on this, it loves to stick to the fingers.  Although, and pardon me purists, I take a little confectioners sugar and sprinkle it on the dough as I'm rolling it into ropes and that makes it a lot easier to work with.  Not a lot of confectioner sugar, just enough to stop the major sticky part.  Take each rope, and coil it around on the pans, starting with the largest ring first.  Pinch the ends together to make the ring.   Start with the largest and work your way down to the smallest. As you put each ring into the form, smooth it out as best you can so that it looks even (ish). Reserve a little bit of the dough for the topper and the initials if desired.   You can make either a round button to top the last ring on the cake, or make three or four S-shaped pieces of dough. You can also reserve a little dough to make initials for the bride and groom if this is for a wedding cake. 
  6.  Once you're finished with them all, you need to bake them. I put the rings on a rimmed baking pan, and was able to fit three rings on each one.  Bake at 390 degrees for about 15-18 minutes or until the rings are done.  Bake any initials separately on a parchment covered pan. Take them out of the oven and let them cool a little in the ring forms. 
  7.  When they've cooled a little, take them out of the ring pans very carefully. I used a small plate, placing it over the ring and then turning it over very carefully, I then slid the baked ring onto a cooling rack. When the rings are warm, they're very malleable. 
  8.  Royal Icing: Mix the Royal Icing ingredients together and using a mixer, whip until the icing forms stiff peaks.  Takes about 7-10 minutes. Put into a piping bag and set aside.   Use either a fine tip or cut a small hole in the end of the bag when you are ready to assemble the cake. 
  9.  Assembly: When taking the rings out of the forms, place the top down, and the other side up.  This makes for a prettier presentation.  
  10.  Pipe a small amount of icing in a round onto the plate or the presentation platter, and place the first ring, which is the largest ring on top of the piped icing.   This helps it to adhere to the plate.   Using the piping bag of icing, making a back and forth motion, go around the cake ring, and drizzle the icing on.  Then take the next biggest ring, and place on top of the just drizzled icing.  Continue doing this and build up the cone.  Then just continue piping and building the rings up. At the end, pipe a little frosting onto the backs of the initials you made, stick them to the cake. Ideally you have Danish Flags decorating the cake, along with 'crackers'. 
  11.  A bottle of wine can be placed inside the cake, and just build the rings up around the bottle.
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Sid Munkholm
Sid Munkholm

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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