The 17th of May, commemorating the signing of the constitution on that date in 1814. In Norway, the Constitution Day is huge. Its a celebration, a party for everyone, and especially the children. Marching bands, traditional costumes, parades, people waving flags and shouting “hurra!” and yummy food. To mark this traditional occasion I wanted to bring a little taste of Norway to Staplehurst, Kent once again and share some makes and bakes from my heritage. I am fortunate to be part of a makers shop in the main high street which has the most wonderful collection of Kent home grown talent “Made by Kent”, I am luckily enough to be able to do a feature week, show casing some Norwegian favourites which I often sell at Christmas but also some new items created especially for this event.
In the planning of this event I decided to bring back my Syv Kjeks- Seven types of Norwegian biscuits , which have proven popular at Christmas but can be enjoyed all year round! Baking is a fine art all year-round in Scandinavia, and often enjoyed with freshly brewed coffee or warm drink.
Baking has always brought our family together and there is something really special about baking those old family recipes, but there is also so much joy in creating new ones with my own child and watching her learn as she enjoys baking with me. Often when im trialling out potential new old recipes taken from my mothers and grandparents recipe books, I share these creative start points with my daughter who loves to help and do what I do. We can often be found side by side in the bakery studio testing recipes and tasting them also!
Two new baked items for this event which I developed were, Daim cookies, a chocolate that I personal love and always reminds me of its funny advert, for those who would remember the famous 1995 television commercial for the chocolate bar in the United Kingdom featured the comedian Harry Enfield, in which a salesman describes the Daim bar as “smooth on the outside, crunchy on the inside”, while a customer says he prefers armadillos, which are “smooth on the inside, crunchy on the outside. I incorporated this sweet treat into a classic family cookie recipe to make a chewy crumbly chocolate chip crunchy cookie with sweet Daim bar caramel pieces which just ooze out when hot out of oven add a really great ‘crunch’ texture when cooled.
The second item was hand sculptured mini marsipangris (marzipan pigs), almonds and marzipan are heavily used in Norwegian baking and feature in a lot of my family recipes. Every year, Norwegians eat 45 million marzipan treats. These marzipan treats are still mostly handmade.
It is believed when you give someone a marzipan pig, you are wishing him or her good luck for the next year. There are many possible origins for the symbol and usage of the pig shape but it is firmly part of Norwegian tradition and part of my memories of growing up, so keeping with these traditions I have hand sculpted these fun little ‘gris’ (pig) characters to share my little taste of Norway with you.
The final new item was fresh Eplekake (apple cake) which was baked and delivered bright and early as best enjoyed fresh. In the beginning of Autumn in Norway, local apples are readily available. This sweet sponge Eplekake (apple cake) is complimented with the tanginess of the apples with just a hint of cinnamon and is just perfect to enjoy anytime of the year.
Norwegians have coffee not only for breakfast, but once again before lunch, then after lunch before dinner and most importantly; after dinner, accompanied by a wide array of cookies and cakes. This is regarded as customary and is a big tradition and sign of hospitality in Norwegian homes. My Eplekake is the perfect sweet treat to be accompanied with coffee as well as some vanilla sauce custard.
As a final addition to the baked range I wanted to take the Norwegian kransekake (literally wreath cake) which is a traditional tower cake, usually enjoyed on special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve and of course, Norwegian 17th May National Day would not be the same, without this delicious showstopper. I also created some mini version just for fun, as there pretty cute!
Traditional kransekake takes the form of a series of concentric rings of cake, layered on top of each other in order to form a steep-sloped cone shape—often 18 or more layers—stuck together with icing. Baking has always brought our family together, and our Norwegian bakes are usually at the centre of these gatherings. Using five generations of family recipes, I am sharing my Norwegian bakes for you to enjoy and share.
I also created a new hand design and made decoration which was based upon my julenisse (Christmas gnome). My Viking character ‘Ragnor’ has been inspired, created and named especially to mark my links with living in the lovely village of Staplehurst in Kent and its links with Vikings.
Staplehurst’s All Saints Church has fascinated Church Historians and visit the church to see the extraordinary south door that is original and is said to be dated AD1050. The door represents the Norse view of the apocalypse: “Ragnorok”. The Legend of Ragnorok tells the story of the Norse Day of Judgement, which starts with a cockerel crowing and waking Heimdall, the watchman, who blows his horn Gjallir to call the gods to battle. Nature is in confusion and the seals rush onto the land. Jormungandr, the Midgard serpent (who has grown until he encircles the world) and other monsters on the Ship of the Dead fight the gods. The serpent is shown wriggling and stretched in agony, vanquished by Thor. Surt the sunwheel throws sheets of flame over the earth. The stars fall while above flies Nithhoggr, who feeds on the slain. But above him is a cross, symbol of a new hope coming and a Christian conclusion to the Norse legend. This, of course, is not the whole story of Ragnorok but only that part retold on the door.
Staplehurst is one of those rare examples of a church where you can take an unobstructed picture, so why not take a nice country walk to enjoy its beauty surrounded by Kent countryside walks.
SOURCE : http://greatenglishchurches.co.uk/html/staplehurst.html / Dedication : All Saints Simon Jenkins: Excluded / Principal Features : Original South door of AD1050.
Ragnor the Viking will be available form my etsy shop…
The event was well received and I hope that you had a chance to pop in were able to sample something from my ‘little taste of norway’ range marking this special Norwegian occasion. I really enjoyed creating some new items and sharing them, a big thank you goes out to Katie Higgins for her support and beautiful display set up of my products and to the Made by Kent shop for hosting the feature week!
THANK YOU to all those who popped in and for #shoppinglocal and supporting #smallbusinesses like mine!