Classic Norwegian Kransekake
I’ve already shared recipes for most of my favorite Norwegian cakes, including suksessterte, fyrstekake, and the world’s best cake. So of course I also had to share a recipe for Norway’s favorite celebratory cake, kransekake, which you’ll see at Christmas, Norwegian weddings, and other celebrations. Kransekake, or “wreath cake,” is a tower of 18 almond cookie rings made of just three ingredients: ground almonds, powdered sugar, and egg whites.
You can find all of my Scandinavian Christmas recipes here.
I actually hadn’t planned on making a kransekake this week, because while delicious, kransekake also is a lot of work to make. It’s not surprising Norwegians save this cake for special occasions.
But then while compiling recipes for my blog post about the best Norwegian desserts, I was dismayed to see that almost every kransekake recipe I found in English called for almond flour. If you are Norwegian you will understand my horror. Almond flour in kransekake! Nei, nei, nei, nei, nei (no, no, no, no, no).
So I pulled out my kransekake forms and almond grinder and set out to show the English reading Internet how to make an authentic Norwegian kransekake.
You can also use a food processor to grind the almonds if you don’t have an almond grinder. Just be careful not to overdo it – the almonds should still be a bit coarse – and certainly not as fine as almond flour.
Some Norwegians will scald the almonds, or sometimes only half of the almonds, first, but my family always leaves the skins on.
I usually always wrap the kransekake dough in cling film and leave it in the fridge over night, but if you don’t have time you could leave it for at least an hour instead.
If this is your first time making kransekake, it can be tricky to know how thick to make each ring. If you make them too thick you risk running out of dough, and the rings will expand and possibly melt together with the rings next to them. To avoid this, I divide the dough into six sections, so I know roughly how much dough I have for each form (though the forms are of course different sizes, so this isn’t exact.
Then I add a bit of egg white to each section of dough before rolling it out. I keep the egg white in a small bowl and will dip my fingers in it to add more egg white to the dough. You’ll need to warm up the dough a bit with your hands as you incorporate the egg white so it’s easier to roll out. If the dough crumbles as you roll it, work it some more with your hands and possibly add a bit more egg white.
When I was growing up my mom would usually have me roll out the kransekake rings because it’s kind of tedious work but also fun for kids – like playing with play-doh.
The rings will puff out in the oven, so you can make them thinner than you think – this will also keep them from melting into each other. But if they’re too thin the kransekake can become hard and dry in the oven. You want the edges to be crispy and the center a bit chewy.
It’s also crucial to grease the kransekake forms really well. I coat mine in grease and then add semolina, but if you don’t have semolina you can coat them in flour or breadcrumbs instead. Make sure the entire form is well coated, as otherwise the kransekake will stick to the form and break when you remove it.
When assembling the kransekake, I lay out the forms in order of largest to smallest. The kransekake rings might look puffy and cracked, but the bottom side should be smooth, so they will look good once stacked.
If you don’t want to use raw egg white in the icing, you can use water instead. The icing won’t be as bright white when it dries, but otherwise it will be the same.
If you want to glue the layers together, decorate each layer and then immediately add the next one on top. This makes the kransekake more stable, but it can be hard to remove each ring from the tower to eat. If you want the kransekake to be easier to eat (but less stable), decorate each ring and let it dry before adding a ring on top. You can also skip the decoration and simply stack the rings – many Norwegians do this as well.
You can switch the recipe from US measurements to metric by clicking from “US Customary” to “Metric” under Ingredients.
Authentic Norwegian Kransekake
- kransekake ring forms
- almond grinder or food processor
- small plastic bag (for piping icing)
- 3 and 1/2 cups almonds
- 3 + 1 egg whites (set one aside for later)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 and 2/3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional for flavor)
- Grind almonds in an almond grinder or food processor.
- Mix almonds and powdered sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add three of the egg whites and knead the dough together with your hands until it comes together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably until the next day.
- Grease the kransekake forms thoroughly and coat with semolina, flour, or bread crumbs.
- Preheat oven to 210°C (410°F) top and bottom heat. Divide the dough into six sections.
- Slowly add the remaining egg white to the dough and knead it until you can roll it into long sausages about as thick as your index finger. Fill the forms with the dough sausages, pinching the ends together to make rings.
- Set the forms on a baking sheet and back in the middle of the oven for about 10 – 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
- Mix the powdered sugar, egg white, and lemon juice together. Spoon into a plastic bag and cut a small hole in one corner. (If you don't want to use raw egg white you can use water instead.)
- Decorate each ring with a zigzag pattern, starting with the largest. After adding the icing, either stack the next ring on top of it immediately to glue them together, or wait for the icing to dry first to keep the rings easy to separate.