What is the Kransekake?

G. Wiesen

A kransekake is a Norwegian dessert typically made using concentric rings of cake stacked on top of each other and bound together using icing. This type of cake is often prepared for weddings and other special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays. The cake used is similar to marzipan and can be made using almonds, powdered or confectioner’s sugar, and egg whites to create a cake that is doughy and similar to a biscuit. A kransekake is then constructed using concentric rings of the cake that have been baked until slightly tough on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Kransekake dough begins with almonds.
Kransekake dough begins with almonds.

The basic components of a kransekake, or “ring cake,” are quite simple, and consist mainly of a cake that is similar to almond paste and icing that is much like royal icing. While dough for kransekake can be purchased at some specialty bakeries, it can be made with relative ease in a home kitchen. The dough begins with almonds; they should be blanched and then have the skins removed by rubbing them together. The almonds can then be left to dry for several hours or overnight.

These almonds are then ground in an almond grinder or food processor to create a relatively fine powder. A rustic texture and appearance for a kransekake can be created by not grinding the almonds too much, allowing for some of the almond appearance to remain in the final cake. This almond powder is combined with some powdered sugar, also called confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar, and one or more egg whites, depending on the recipe being used. The mixture is combined thoroughly and then typically placed in a refrigerator or freezer to allow the dough to firm and create the proper texture for kransekake dough.

This dough is then rolled out into relatively thin lengths of dough, and turned into circles or rings of concentric sizes. Special kransekake pans can be used to shape the concentric rings for the final cake, or they can be made freeform. These rings are then baked until firm and fairly crispy on the outside, but still moist and somewhat chewy on the inside.

Once the rings cool, the kransekake can be assembled by placing the largest ring on the bottom and using an icing of powdered sugar and egg white to effectively glue the next largest ring on top of it. This creates a final shape that is much like a cone, as each layer is slightly smaller than the layer below it, and the icing holds the rings together. The assembly can be done in reverse, with a smaller ring at the bottom and concentrically larger rings on top, to create a basket shape, into which toys, fruit, or other items can be placed to create an edible centerpiece. Decorations can be placed along the outside of the cake, often by sticking them into the cake itself or by gluing them on using the icing.

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