Norwegian Christmas Baking – Julebakst

Julebakst (Christmas Baking)

Christmas baking (julebakst) begins in advance (sometimes in November) and is usually of seven kinds of cookies (syv sorter).  Syv sorter (seven sorts) refers to the seven traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies. Depending on the region in Norway that one is from, the seven sorts can differ widely.

Why seven sorts?
The number seven has had a magical meaning to people for thousands of years. It might be connected to natural phenomena, like the seven colors in the rainbow. Many cultures through the centuries have supported the cult of the magic number. According to mythology, the city of Rome was built by seven kings, and according to Islam, Allah created seven heavens on top of each other. In the first book of the Bible, God created the world in seven days. And later, anyone who dares to kill Cain “will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Seven years of plenty and seven years of famine appear in Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41, and in Exodus 13 there are seven days of the feast of Passover. The fall of the walls of Jericho takes place on the seventh day after marching around the city seven times. Jesus is known to have had seven last words (or sayings) on the cross. And seven is the number of the wonders of the ancient world.

Here are 15 of the popular cookies, complete with recipes (which are in Norwegian but Google Translate can help!):

Gingerbread (pepperkaker)

Pepperkaker – photo credit – MatPrat

Pepperkaker or gingerbread, is THE Christmas cookie. No other cookie is more directly associated with Christmas in Norway than pepperkaker. Made of dried ginger, syrup and spice, pepperkaker can be eaten plain or decorated with icing and candy. You might also find pepperkaker being used as Christmas tree decorations!
Pepperkaker Recipe

Ginger nuts (ingefærnøtter

Ginger nuts are similar in taste  to gingerbread, except that they are shaped into little balls.
Ingefærnøtter recipe

Doughnuts (smultringer)

Smultringer – photo credit – MatPrat

Doughnuts can be eaten plain or filled in the centre with cream or jam. Yummy!
Smultringer recipe

Wafer cones (krumkaker)

Krumkaker – photo credit – MatPrat

Wafer cones can eaten empty or filled with whipped cream.
Krumkaker Recipe

Sand Nuts (sandnøtter)

Sandnøtter – photo credit – MatPrat

Sand cakes are crumbly short cake that is baked into little flat cookies or other shapes. They are sometimes filled with jam or jelly and cream.
Sandkake Recipe

Syrup snaps (sirupsnipper)

Sirupsnipper – photo credit – MatPrat

These are similar to gingerbread but sweeter and crunchier. They are diamond-shaped and usually decorated with half a peeled almond.
Sirupsnipper recipe

Almond butter biscuits (serinakaker)

Serinakaker – photo credit – MatPrat

A delicious butter cookie, topped with chopped almonds.
Serinakaker recipe

Poor man (fattigmann)

Fattigmann – photo credit – MatPrat

These cookies are made with cream and brandy, rolled and then deep fried.
Fattigmann recipe

Good advice (goro)

Goro – photo credit – MatPrat

These cookies are similar to the fattigmann cookies. They are rectangular with a floral design stamped into them.
Goro Recipe

Coconut macaroons (kokosmakroner)

Kokosmakroner – photo credit – MatPrat

Coconut and meringue cookies which are soft and chewy.
Kokosmakroner recipe

Thick cookie-pancake (tykklefser)

This is more like a pancake, and normally made into a sandwich filled with butter, sugar and cinnamon.
Tykklefser recipe

Deer antlers (hjortetakk)  

Hjortetakk – photo credit – MatPrat

Similar to lefser, deer antlers is named after the raising agent hartshorn salt, also called ammonium carbonate. It does make the kitchen smell of ammonia while they bake but the cookies turn out delicious.
Hjortetakk recipe

Berlin Wreaths (berlinerkranser)

Berlinerkranser – photo credit – MatPrat

A butter cookie in the shape of a wreath.
Berlinerkranser recipe

Oat macaroons (havremakroner)

Oat cookies which are soft and chewy.
Havremakroner recipe

Sauda Cookies (saudakjeks)

Round cookies with yummy filling.
Saudakjeks recipe

If you are like me (who doesn’t bake), fret not. You can find most or all of these cookies, especially pepperkaker, in shops.