Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My sister's wedding cake: Kransekake


It seemed like a good idea at the time. Drive to Byron Bay for my sister's wedding so we could transport the wedding cake I'd made her. A six day break where we spent four days in the car. Insane right?

Did I mention I made a wedding cake?

Not your quintessential tiered, fondant creation mind you.  In a nod to our Norwegian heritage, my sister asked me to make a traditional wedding cake called kransekake.

If you haven’t seen one before, kransekake isn’t actually a cake; it’s a tower of eighteen sweet almond macaroon rings – think baked marzipan – ‘glued’ together with royal icing. 



Instead of cutting the cake, the bride and groom lift the top ring.  The number of rings that stay attached to the top ring is supposed to signify how many children the happy couple will be blessed with. 

The rings are then broken up into pieces (starting from the bottom) and served with coffee. 


The dough is a cinch to make but its the baking that brings many a cook unstuck, or should I stay stuck...the special kransekake pans are notoriously non-stick (despite what the box says!)  A baked kransekake has the tendency to stick to the pans like cement!



Through trial and error I've come up with a 'no more tears' method.  I used the moulds to shape the rings but tipped them out onto baking paper lined trays to bake them.  The result is perfectly formed rings with a slightly flat base (which makes stacking them even easier!). I feel like a kransekake genius!




In Norway kransekakes are generally decorated with small Norwegian flags or ribbons.  Very patriotic but not quite how I wanted to decorate my first wedding cake.  I took inspiration from this gorgeous cake and spent a couple of hours making 300+ sugar flowers to emulate the cascade effect.


Not one to blow my own trumpet (too loudly), I think pretty kransekakes are the way of the future. Check out this gorgeous one made by fellow Aussie blogger/baker Not Quite Nigella.

When I first shared a photo of the cake on my personal Facebook page, many of my friends asked whether I'd transported the cake assembled - em, no.  I baked the rings a week ahead of time and froze them.  The rings defrosted on the way to Byron Bay.

Di-licious at work, wielding the piping bag!

On the morning of the wedding I wielded my piping bag and put it all together in less than two hours. The ribbons were an afterthought..... if I were to do it again I probably would have ditched the navy rose on top.

When it came to ‘cuting the cake’, my sister and new brother in law tugged strongly and initially lifted up the whole tower and cake stand before the top ring broke free – much to the relief of my sister!



A word of warning: kransekake is highly addictive.  One guest apprehensively tasted a small piece to appease my dad who was singing its praises – and then couldn’t stop eating it! The whole cake was polished off!  You have been warned.


And to end on a gorgeous note, I can't help but share a photo of Olive as the flower girl.  She took her role very seriously!




Recipe: Kransekake (Macaroon Wreath Cake)

Ingredients
665g pure icing sugar
665g ground almonds
4 egg whites
10 drops almond essence

Royal icing
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white

Special Equipment
eye dropper (for essence)
Kransekake ring pans (set of 6 with three ring tracks each)

Method
  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Using a food processor, grind together the icing sugar and almond meal (in two batches).
  • Tip into a large mixing bowl and then add egg whites and almond essence.
  • Mix together until the mixture becomes a smooth dough.
  • Break off approximately a quarter of the dough and wrap the rest in cling wrap to stop it from drying out.
  • Roll the dough into a long rope until its the thickness of your thumb.
  • Fit the 'rope' to the tracks of the ring pan and pinch off.  Smooth the join as best you can by pressing the ends together.  Repeat for the remaining tracks to create three dough rings.
  • Carefully turn dough rings out onto baking paper lined tray. Repeat with remaining pans.
  • Bake rings for approx 12-15min until slightly coloured.  They should be dry and firm on the outside but slightly chewy on the inside.
  • Allow to cool on tray for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Royal icing
  • Sift or whizz your icing sugar in a food processor and place into a mixmaster bowl.
  • Add the egg white and mix on low speed until egg white is incorporated and then on medium speed until icing is smooth.
  • Fit a piping bag with a small plain piping tip.
  • Load up your piping bag with icing,
To assemble

  • Arrange your rings on a large workspace in the correct ascending order. 
  • Glue your largest (bottom) tier to your cake stand.
  • Pipe a scalloped garland of icing along the top of the ring and attach the next ring (the icing sticks it together).
  • Repeat with remaining rings.
  • Decorate as desired.
  • Allow to set for at least two hours, then sit back and get ready for all the compliments to roll in!


Baking notes:
  • The recipe is simple enough – almonds, icing sugar and egg whites.  I cheat and use ready-ground almond meal and use a food processor to whizz the icing sugar with the almond meal so I don’t have to sift it (purists would grind the nuts themselves and sift it with the icing sugar). 
  • I've added almond essence to imitate the taste of bitter almonds.
  • The quantity of dough is deliberately generous. This means you can bake a test ring to work out optimum baking time (and taste test it!)  Left over dough can be made into small cookies and frozen.
  • Kransekake should have a firm crust and chewy texture.


6 comments:

Anne said...

Just fabulous Di. I wouldn't expect anything less from you. It looks perfect. And how's little Olive? She's just gorgeous. And those bridesmaid shoes? Wow! I want some! LOL Great work, as usual!

Anne @ Domesblissity

Tina said...

This is an amazing creation and interesting about the lifting of the rings! I am sure it took some patience and time, but the end result was well worth it.
That picture of Olive is adorable!

Di said...

@Anne - thanks lovely. (my, you were up late too!) It was an epic post for an epic cake! Hopefully it was worth the wait... ;-D

@Tina - I love discovering the mythology behind wedding cakes too. In fact, there could be a whole post on that one day in the future... Thanks for stopping by. :-D

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I made the very same cake for a friend's wedding! I loved it but was nervous as it was a surprise for her and it isn't your traditional wedding cake. Thankfully she loved it!

Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet said...

What a fabulous cake. I did see one on NQN but in your post I can see that it is the perfect transportable cake. Olivia looks adorable, did I miss in the post how many rings stuck or was that part not possible because of the transporting and icing?

Anonymous said...

After reading your note about sticking to the pans I tried baking them on a silpat (nonstick mat) and it worked beautifully!

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