We didn’t see this one coming either…
DAY 14: A STARTLING CONFESSION
We’ll do our best to keep Eric’s secret and will take a cue from another rather sweet (and human) Eric in Thyra10’s Dead Without a Work Permit. Like us he was generous enough to gift his beloved Sookie with a present each day of the Advent period.
On the second of December I didn`t get two turtle doves. What I did get was a ginger-snap heart. Or at least I thought it was ginger-snap.
“No, it`s a peppercake,” Eric corrected me.
“There`s pepper in it?” I asked and looked at the beautiful heart with suspicion.
“Yes, there is. I should know since I baked it,” he smiled.
And then he went to the stereo and put on a children`s CD called the `The Animals in the Hakkebakke Forest` and had me listen to the song about the little rabbit trying to learn how to bake peppercakes. I didn`t get the lyrics at first. I had, after all, only learned Norwegian for half a year and Eric and I spoke just as much English as Norwegian with each other. Eric made me listen to the song until I understood how the rabbit had mistaken the amount of sugar (one kilo) for the amount of pepper (one teaspoon) and how he had made the mean old fox eat them.
Eric was almost jumping up and down in excitement over the song and one of the reasons it took me ages to understand the lyrics was because Eric was singing them too.
But we ended up singing them together and then I shared my heart with him. My peppercake heart.*
As Thyra10 astutely pointed out in her always informative author’s note, pepperkaker would literally translate to pepper cookies rather than cake. Even though it is a bit of a distant cousin of the gingerbread men, and you could certainly bake them in that shape, we’ll be sparing Eric the agony and instead bake ours in the shapes of hearts this year to share with our loved ones, and possibly a sword 😉
Pepperkaker – Scandinavian spiced Christmas biscuits
Makes 35 – 40
150 g/1 1/3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
150 g/ 2/3 of a cup of caster sugar
70 ml/ 1/3 cup of treacle**
50 ml/ 1/4 cup of golden syrup**
75 ml/ 1/3 cup of whole milk
1 medium egg yolk
450 g/1 lb of plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½-1 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
½ tsp fine sea salt
You can use a food processor to make this dough or mix it by hand. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mix the treacle, golden syrup, milk and egg yolk together in a bowl or jug, and stir 400g flour and all the other dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Alternate between adding wet and dry ingredients in stages, mixing as you go, until the dough comes together. Add some or all of the remaining 50g flour if the mixture seems too wet, although you want it to be quite sticky – it will set when refrigerated.
Divide the mixture in two and wrap in clingfilm, squishing and smoothing the mixture down as you seal it up until you have a round disc about 10cm wide. Refrigerate overnight or freeze until needed.
Allow the dough to come to room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. If you are using frozen dough, you will need to let it defrost overnight in the fridge beforehand.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3-4/340°F and line two or three large baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll out the biscuit dough with a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until it isroughly 2mm thick. The thinner you roll it, the crisper the biscuits will be – but if the dough gets too thin, the biscuits may be tricky to transfer to a baking sheet. You may find it easier to roll the dough directly on to the baking sheet and cut out the biscuit shapes there, lifting off the excess dough to roll out for the next batch.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool on a wire rack while you repeat the rolling, cutting and baking until all the dough is used up. If you find that the cooled biscuits are still a little soft, you can always pop them back in a 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2/300°F oven to dry out.
Properly crisp and dried out, these biscuits can keep in an airtight container for several weeks. My grandmother used to keep them from Christmas all the way through until Lent, but mine are always eaten up long before that! If the stored biscuits start to go soft, reheat them on a wire rack at 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2/300°F for 5-10 minutes, then allow to cool completely on the wire rack once out of the oven to crisp them back up.
*Extract from Thyra10’s Dead Without A work Permit Chapter 36
** Can be found on Amazon or any specialist food shop with British products. Could possibly be substituted for light and dark corn syrup.
Measurements have been converted to US measurements at approximate values, for best results we advice using a scale.
Recipe adapted from:
(UK link HERE)
No copyright infringement intended.
NEED INSPIRATION TO WRITE? CHECK OUT:
THERE’S PLENTY TO CHOOSE FROM! SUBMISSIONS DUE DECEMBER 18TH.