Brunkager - Brown cakes
Christmas over here is a time of cookies. Crazy amounts of cookies. These are about as christmasy as it gets over here. A wonderful juxtaposition of sweet and slightly savory, crunchy and slightly chewy. And they yield a shitload of cookies for not all that much work. This is my standard recipe, but a lot of families will have their own that’s been handed down for ages. I’m sure HappyHat’s is different and he might share it if you ask him nicely.
Note: When possible, measurements are by weight. Also this recipe freezes well in its unbaked state, so you can make plenty of dough well in advance.
Makes 200-250 cookies
- A: 250g / 0,55 lb butter
- B: 125 g / 4,4 oz by weight light syrup
- C:100g / 3,5 oz by weight sugar
- C: 150g / 1/3 lb brown sugar
- D: 100g / 3.5 oz by weight almonds, peeled and finely chopped.
- E: 500 g / 1lb 2 oz wheat flour
- F: 1 3/4 tsp potash. EDIT: Research tells me you can substitute potash for baking powder, 1:2 potash:baking powder. You won't get exactly the same texture though.
- 1 tbsp handwarm water
- G: Spices
- A: 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- B: 1 tsp ground cardemom
- C: 1 tsp ground ginger
- D: 1 tsp ground cloves
- E: 25 g / around 1 oz by weight finely chopped pomerans/sukat (substitute candied orange peel, candied citron peel, candied pomelo peel if you can't get either of these - they'll work just as well. Or you can make it yourself: http://www.waitrose.com/recipe/Homemade_Candied_Peel.aspx).
Note: I've used a very mild spice mix for this show-and-tell. You can easily double the amount of ginger, cardemom, candied peel and cloves without screwing up the recipe, I usually do. Increased amounts of candied peel will make the cookies seem chewier.
Peel your almonds by giving them a hot bath – pour boiling water over them, let stand for 3-4 minutes, and the skin should come off easily. Chop them fairly fine, but not to a powder.
Melt butter, syrup and sugars in a large thick bottomed pot or saucepan on medium heat. Keep stirring until the mixture is even - do not let it boil. This takes a little longer than you'd expect if you want to break down the crystal formations.
Once you're satisfied that your caramel is relatively smooth, add your spices and your almonds. Take it off the heat, still stirring now and then until the mix reaches somewhere between room temp and blood temp (or if you use a thermometer, 28C / 82 F).
Dissolve the potash in the spoonful of water and stir it into the sugary mess along with the flour. Don't add all the flour at once, it’ll be hell to avoid little pockets of flour in the dough.
When you're happy with the sticky consistency - don't worry if it seems a little too sticky, once cooled the sugar will bind it all together - split your dough in 3 portions. Roll up each one in baking parchment to a diameter of around 1 1/2". Put them in the fridge for 24 hours to allow everything to settle. Note: This is a very good time to toss two rolls in the freezer - they will keep for months. Or just for two weeks if you eat as many as we do.
The day after:
Cut your dough in thin thin slices, no more than 1/10. I like mine fairly thin, usually around 1/20 inch thickness. YMMV. If you've frozen it, you might be able to use a mandoline (or a bacon slicer!) although I've never had much luck with the somewhat sticky dough, so I use a sharp knife and a good eye. Err. A sharp knife, anyway. Lay them out - they'll spread a tiny bit so don't let them overlap.
If you're making several trays at once, it might be worth it to swap the cookies around a bit, making sure that you've got similar-thickness cookies on each tray. Preheat your oven to 175C - 350F. Bake them for 6-8 mins depending on thickness. Use one of the top racks. Let them cool off on a ... thingie…rack…griddle…thing. Feel free to eat the burnt ones now. If any seem like they're too chewy, wait for them to cool. They'll firm up wonderful and crispy in a short while.
If you make a tray of these and feel they’re too thin or thick, don’t worry. If your oven is roughly the same size as mine, you should have enough dough left over for 3-4 more trays.