First of all, apologies for the radio silence. We are in the process of having our kitchen redone which has made baking a bit of an issue! Just the floor to go now…
As you might already know, my husband Kris is half Danish and we had a traditional Danish kransekage wedding cake when we got married in 2013.
Since then, I’ve managed to get half of my family and quite a few friends addicted to the stuff, which is how I ended up baking a Danish cake for my English Aunt’s birthday.
Kransekage is a baked almond confection, soft and chewy on the inside and firm to the touch on the outside. If you like marzipan, this is the cake for you! They made a version of it on Great British Bakeoff a few years ago, which had me and Kris yelling at the TV in horror at more than just the pronunciation.
There’s a bit of a knack to kransekage, which has taken me a few attempts / years to get right. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:
1. It’s essential to chill the dough before shaping for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. This makes it much easier to handle and shape.
2. To get the icing the right consistency you need to beat the living hell out of it for at least 5-10mins, otherwise you’ll be adding more and more icing sugar and getting nowhere fast!
3. Take it out of the oven when it’s just golden and semi firm. The outside will still have some ‘give’ to it, but once they are cooled, they will have a lovely soft centre and a nice crumbly crust, without being too chewy.
4. The best results I’ve had have been using Odense baking almond paste, which I’ve only managed to find either in Denmark, at the annual Danish Christmas bazaar in London or annually on Danish Food Direct. At all other non-Christmas times, I make my own marzipan (recipe follows). Don’t be tempted to use UK marzipan in a pinch, I attempted this a couple of times and whilst the dough shapes as expected, once you put it in the oven it kind of splurges all over the place in some kind of giant pancakey mess.
5. Use two baking sheets for insulation, or the bottom browns too quickly. I like a regular baking sheet with a silicon baking mat on top.
6. They are insanely good with coffee or a glass of bubbly. Enjoy!
The recipe I use is below, it’s my own variation on the one from The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann.
For the cakes:
100g ground almonds
200g caster sugar
2 egg whites
500g marzipan (recipe below)
Icing sugar for dusting
For the marzipan:
500g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
75ml – 100ml water
For the icing:
75g icing sugar
30g egg whites (I use Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites)
To make the marzipan, I put the sugar and almonds into a stand mixer and gradually add the water until it comes together into a dough. Once the dough has come together, remove it from the mixer and briefly knead it on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar.
To make the cakes, put the sugar and almonds into a mixer or food processor with the egg whites. Beat well until pale.
Chop up 500g of the marzipan and gradually add to the almond mix. This will make a fairly sticky dough. Remove the dough on to the surface dusted with sugar and form into a fat sausage, using as much dusting sugar as you need so that it doesn’t stick to your hands or the surface. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a few hours / overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Dust the dough and surface with icing sugar and roll into two long sausages, about 2cm wide. Chop the sausage into equal lengths, approx 6cm each (this should make about 24). Squash the top of the sausages into triangle points and place on the double baking sheets.
To make the icing, I blitz the icing sugar and egg whites in the stand mixer on med-high for about 10mins until it’s thick and bright white. Pop the icing into a piping bag and zig-zag across the top of the cakes, once they are completely cool.