Pepperkaker – Ginger Bread

There is nothing that bring out the christmas feeling in me as baking christmas cookies with the family. Son, Husband and I spent an evening together making ginger bread cookies and what translates directly as cake men. I’ll get back to those in a different post.

Pepperkaker translates directly to ‘pepper cakes/cookies’, pepper as in black pepper. In Norwegian there is no word for cookies, we have ‘kake’, which means cake (doh) and also cover most cookies. The Norwegian word for biscuits, ‘kjeks’ (pronounces ‘sheks’ by me, but which should be pronounced with an initial palatal k-like sound (a fricative), which you also find in German ‘ich’ – kjeks would rhyme with shrek, but with a final s). ‘Kjeks’ then cover other types of cookies and, obviously, also biscuits.

The recipe I use for ‘pepperkaker’ is one going back a few generations. I would like to say it’s very straight forward, but I almost messed up this year (I managed to fix it though and save the day) so I would recommend you to follow the recipe (almost) step by step. You probably want to reduce this recipe though, or you’ll be eating pepperkaker until next summer:

  • 150 g butter (or margarine)
  • 5 dl sugar

Dice the butter and leave it on the counter until it’s tempered and soft. Whisk it with the sugar until it’s white and fluffy. Then add the remaining ingredients:

  • 2 dl of sirup
  • 2 dl of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1,5 litres (850g) of wheat flour

Mix it al together. The machine will help you to some extent, but will eventually start tearing the dough apart and crumbling it. Knead it together then by hand, add a bit of water if that proves difficult, and leave it somewhere cold (fridge is perfect) for at least a few hours before baking.

The figures should only be a few millimetres thick, so make sure you roll the dough out thin. Husband illustrates quite well how thick it should be (Dude is talented when it comes to rolling out that dough!)

The cookies are done after 5-7 minutes at 200 degrees in a pre-heated oven. You should time these cookies as it’s not all that easy to see when they’ve got the right colour. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Son's showing off a cookie shaped like a cat


16 thoughts on “Pepperkaker – Ginger Bread

  1. I love pepperkaker, it is a seasonal favourite in this house as my wife is large part scandinavian and make sure that lots of it is prepared. I however am not much use with a rolling pin, compared to her.

    • Practice makes perfect, so you just get to it! And there are so many great tunes that help motivate (“They see me rollin..”) 😉
      It’s not christmas without pepperkaker. In Norway the consumption of them in December is insanse! And you can get them anywhere, and so cheap it’s almost painful.
      I take pride in making my own from scratch 🙂

      • In Victoria (BC) the local grocery store carries one brand – called Anna’s as it happens. My wife’s name begins with a Kj, which is very unusual in an English speaking context. That has to be one of the reasons we get so much pepperkaker at this at time of the year. Even her dolls make it (though they make gingerbread men, so its not really pepperkaker in that shape, is it?).

      • Hm, name starting with KJ in Victoria, is anyone except her able to pronounce it correctly?
        In my opinion pepperkaker are pepperkaker, as long as the recipe stays about the same. In my family the kakemenn are more likely to be shaped like men or women, while pepperkaker are any shape that usually not exceeds a (n approximate) 10cm diametre.
        Nice dolls and nice blog!

      • The sound is losing grounds in Norway as well, among my generation only a few can still hear the difference between the kj- and the skj-/sj- sounds. Language change!

  2. Love pepperkaker; my Swedish aunts always made these at Christmas and they have become a favorite of mine for enjoying with coffee – they keep well too. My mother passed on her recipe, very similar to yours. We always leave the dough to rest overnight; it seems to bring out the spicy flavor and makes it easier to roll out without sticking. Thanks for sharing this!

    • They should rest for a few days to really absorb the flavours of the spice, mine this year were made in a bit of a hurry… I have a different type though I’ll make as well, which I always make sure is left for at least a few days.

    • I believe any kind of syrup would do, we use something that I believe is similar to golden syrup. It has about the same texture as runny honey…

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