In our house at Christmas I have always heard of the Norwegian tradition of 'Seven kinds', which is a selection of biscuits, seven different kinds made especially for Christmas time. For weeks now I have tried to discover why exactly there has to be seven, but cannot find an answer except for that it wouldn't be a proper Christmas if it wasn't seven. This isn't really a good enough question for me, I even tried writing to the King of Norway but I guess I'll just have to accept it.
My grandmother in Oslo always makes seven kinds, so while we now live in Cambridgeshire I still though I would give it a go with my newly found baking obsession. Time however was not on my side, so luckily I found a base recipe that allows you to adapt it sightly to make several kinds! Perfect.
The varieties change from family to family but there are a few that are always used. So I used some traditional and added or two of my own to make it a bit more contemporary.
My choices were : Gingerbread, krumkaker, German slices, checkerboard biscuits, jammy hearts, sugar stars, shortbread slices
Base Recipe (for 5 kinds)
It's really simple, totally gorgeous and with enough butter to make your heart scream!
1kg plain flour
300g icing sugar
Chuck it all into a mixing bowl and knead it until it forms a firm, but not rock hard dough. All can bake on 180degrees (fan oven 160) for 10-15min. I can't stress enough not to use self raising flour...I did this thinking it would be ok and they all just fell to pieces. I noticed this when no sooner had I said it was going to be a perfect Christmas, had my mum dropped nearly all of two kinds on the floor....
Luckily however this is when I discovered how rubbish they were with self raising. So, DON'T BE COCKY WITH YOUR FLOUR CHOICE!
Roll the dough out into a sausage about 5cmn in diameter and chill for 30 minutes. Take out of fridge and cut into 5mm slices. When baked, dust icing sugar on with stencils.
Divide mixture into two halves, mix one half with 1 tablespoon on cocoa powder. Halves both halves and roll out into sausage shapes. Place one plain and one chocolate next to each other, then on top place the other two sauages, making sugar they are opposites - so it looks like a pieces of checkerboard. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes and slice in 5mm pieces.
Roll out dough into 2-3mm, cut out heart shapes, and use a small heart cutter to cut out the middle of every other one. So there will be one plain, on the bottom, then one with the cutout on top of it. Spread some raspberry jam on the plain one and lay the cutout one on top.
Roll dough out to 5mm depth and use a star shaped cutter to cut out pieces. Place on a baking tray and sprinkle on pearl sugar. If not then normal granulated sugar will be fine.
Roll dough out to 5mm depth and cut out rectangle shapes, then using a small heart cutter press lightly into the rectangle without going all of the way through. Place a couple of chocolate hearts down the middle and bake. When cook icing festive patterns around the chocolate.
These are crunchy vanilla cones made with a brandy-snap like iron. Gorgeous if the bottoms are dipped in chocolate!
150g caster sugar
150 melted and chilled butter
150 plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar/essence
2-4 tbsp water
Mix eggs and sugar until big and fluffy like eggnog. Then add the butter, flour and vanilla. Leave batter to swell for 30 minutes (optional). Turn on iron when ready to bake and butter plates for the first cone. Add a tablespoon of batter in the middle and press the lid of the iron down. Cook until golden brown, remove and wrap around the cone roller, or around a self made one. Set for 20 seconds and leave to cool.
125 golden syrup
150ml double cream
250g icing sugar
400g plain flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground gloves
1/2 tsp pepper
You need to add more spices to taste.
Heat butter, golden syrup, double cream and icing sugar in a saucepan. Leave the mixture to cool and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Knead the dough well and roll out, cut out festive shaped pieces and bake on 175 degrees (165 fan) for 10-12 min.
You will now have 7 kinds of delicious biscuits for Christmas. Keep them, give as gifts and just enjoy. NOM!
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