The Great Swedish Gingersnaps Experiment

There is nothing to get the holiday mood going like the scent of thin Swedish gingersnaps, ”pepparkakor”, baking in the oven. ”Gingersnaps” is actually a better name than ”pepparkakor” – pepper cookies – since the cookies have ginger but not pepper. Oh well, not my problem. Either way, they are full of traditional Swedish Christmas spices like ginger, cardamom, cloves, bitter orange… One day I should find out why we have so many Indian spices in Swedish baking, but I’m sure it has something to do with our East India Company trading there in the 1700s. Anyone know?

With Christmas around the corner I thought I’d work my way through great grand-aunt’s recipe book to see if I can find a new spicy favorite. Here goes.

Recipe 1563 from Husmoderns Bok
Hårda Pepparkakor

2 cups (5dl) golden syrup or light molasses (ljus sirap)
425 g melted butter

Spice mix:
2 tbsp bitter orange peel (pomeransskal). Recipe calls for fresh finely chopped ones, I’d find powdered ones easier to use.
1 tsp ground green cardamom
0.5 tsp ground clove
0.5 tsp ground ginger
(I added 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, not in the recipe)

Ca 3.5-4 cups wheat flour (the amount was not specified) + rising agent.

Rising agent called for is the traditional ”potash” used in Sweden and Germany for baking. To come close to this, I used 1 tsp baking soda () and 1 tsp hartshorn (hjorthornssalt).

Bring the syrup and spices to a soft boil, remove from heat and add butter. Pour into mixing bowl and add flour with the added leavening until it forms a steady dough. Let it rest at least one night in the fridge.

Next day, roll thin on lightly floured table and take out shapes with cookie cutters. I use my thinnest possible spatula to move them unto lined cookie sheets. The recipe says to bake in a ”not too warm oven and remove from sheet immediately when done”. I’m going to try 200-225 C/400 F and 4-5 minutes until golden brown.

From the taste of the dough, I’m thinking we have gotten used to more spices (which are of course cheaper nowadays with international trade). I’ll give my verdict on amounts by the end of the week…

This is the full batch recipe, but what you see in my hand is a half batch. Just in case I don’t like it and don’t want to be stuck with 300 cookies…

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