Farmor Birgit’s Pepparkakor – Granny’s Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies

Winter in snowed on Dalarna in central Sweden, just a few days to go until Christmas. I open a tin of cookies and get hypnotised by a divine gingerbread smell. Inhale a few times, then reach out for a cookie and have the first bite. Crunchy, with bits of almonds, cinnamon and orange aromas, simply melting in my mouth. The flavour is incomparable to any other cookies I’ve had before.

A couple of days later I am sitting in granny Birgit’s kitchen, brought here with a mission to find out pepparkakor recipe of that divine treat I had the other day.

Birgit is 85. Village kids used to call her farmor, which means ‘granny’ in Swedish and they still do after they grew up. She doesn’t speak English, so my Swedish friend helps us to communicate while I am taking notes, being grateful for sharing her well-kept kitchen secrets with me.

Granny Birgit learned the recipe of the cookies in 1958 from a woman called Dagny in Gravendal village. Dagny baked those cookies all year round, but Birgit created a tradition of making them for Christmas and she’s been doing that ever since. Even those members of her family who don’t normally eat gingerbread can not resist farmor’s pepparkakor and they are a mandatory treat on Christmas table.

Pepparkakor

Ingredients:

Melt the butter. Add sugar, syrup and spices and mix well. Let it cool down.

Dissolve sodium bicarbonate in a bit of water and pour it into the mix.

Add orange peel and almonds.

Gradually stir in the flour until evenly blended.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and roll them into logs of about 5cm in diameter. Wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Preheat the oven to 175C.

Cut the dough into 2-3mm slices. The thinner you can get them, the crunchier the cookies would be.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 8-10 minutes.

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