Lockdown Cake Celebration – Syttende Mai

The 17 May (syttende mai) is The National Day of Norway theres usual parades held across Norway to celebrate with traditional national costumes (bunads) worn, flags waving and hurra shouting, alot of hot dogs, ice cream eaten and games with family and friends. But this year on lockdown this was to look very different across Norway but also for those (including us) who would be celebrating from afar this year. But just because the celebrations would be much smaller this year didn’t mean I wouldn’t still celebrate through some cake creations sharing the traditions and love for my heritage.

Last year we celebrated in Oslo with family for this very special celebration and enjoyed all that this huge country party brings! 2020’s 17th May begun with a family video call to wish “gratulerer med dagen” (congratulations with the day) to our family whom we’ve not been able to see for over 9 weeks now, it was so sad we were not all together but we remembered fondly the memories from last year with a promise that 2021 we’d hopefully be able to make up for it and Id bake all these yummy treats again!

Cake is a big deal in Norway and every celebration has its traditional bakes which are a must on any cake table. Some recipes I’ve had handed down to me and bake frequently but in my search to learn more about me heritage I also went on the hunt for some new creations to celebrate the day! I LOVE creating home cake tables, a mini celebration of yummy treats and bakes and here I share my Norwegian themed cake table selection for this year:

Bløtkake – Norwegian Cream Cake

A traditional Norwegian Cream Cake that makes an appearance at most celebrations, and of course for the 17 May it needs to be colour coordinated to the Norwegian flag. This butter-less cake is light and fluffy and my mother has baked this cake for every family birthday I can remember and with its yummy layers of a homemade custard cream and fruit ( for us normally raspberries ) it never lasts long. Traditional decorated in fresh whipped cream and tonnes of fruit, chill over night these fillings soak into the sponge and set slightly making cutting it up easier, I highly recommend addition to any celebration or cake table, its a family favourite for us especially on Norwegian National Day!!

Norsk Flaggkake – Norwegian Flag Cake

Flag berry decorated cream cakes are a must on 17 May but I thought for my second cream cake I’d try out a surprise flag cake. This took some time getting my head around the ring layers (link below for instructions I used) to ensure I created the correct flag and the anxious wait till slicing to see if I’d filled it correctly! It worked really well and a simple looking exterior hid the surprise inside. I down sized the design to a 7″ cake, as I’ve discovered using many family recipes is that Norwegian cakes are not small they only come in family sharing size.

I used my standard vanilla cake sponge with food colouring, you’ll need to bake two cakes one red and one blue. A tip for the whipped cream, is add a small amount of icing sugar to help stiffen it up for piping between the ring layers. There is some left over cake once you’ve cut all your discs out, which we crumbed and mixed with some buttercream and rolled in sprinkles to make some tasty kids cake bites to reduce on sponge waste. Its well worth the layering challenge for the moment when you reveal the first slice!

CREDITS: helpful instructions on how to build your layers: https://www.godt.no/oppskrift/7526/flaggkake

Kvæfjordkake

This was a new one for me but looking like the kind of centrepiece cake my cake table needed and discovering it was nicknamed as verdens beste, “the world’s best” of course it needed to be baked. Its a thin sponge cake baked with a meringue top scattered with flaked almonds and filled with the traditional cream custard which features in lots of Norwegian bakes. I didn’t have the exact sized tin required so my meringue layer was slightly thicker than it should be meaning I had to adjust cooking times, the cake is actually cut in half (once cooled) and sandwiched together so that you get meringue on the top and bottom, yummy!!. Kvæfjordkake is deserved of its nickname, its extremely luxurious and should be accompanied with fresh berries and I know this will be a family hit next year too!!

CREDITS: https://northwildkitchen.com/kvaefjordkake-worlds-best-cake/

Flag jelly

After seeing the idea on Pintrest I couldn’t resist the temptation to try and create them my self! little did I know how long it would take, the actual making part is quite quick but the allowing each layer to set before the next is poured tested my patience, they tasted great and looked amazing though! These are basically a jelly and panna cotta layered sandwich, I used slightly less water than the standard jelly mix to get a firmer jelly and I used the ice cube method to help cool the mix quicker before poring to speed up the setting process. If your catering for a larger amount of people it might be slightly easier to do, as the volume of jelly a mix makes would be better but if your planning to try these out be sure to have plenty of fridge space and time to add these show stoppers to your dessert table!!

CREDITS: Idea used from: https://meny.no/Tema/Anledninger/desserter-17-mai/

Kransekake

Of course id be making one on these, there part of my Syv kjeks – Christmas biscuit range (read more about them on my blog post – Scandi Market) and traditional made up of 18 almond rings stacked in a stunning tower, but for this year I tried something a little different I flipped it on its head ‘literally’ and made a treat bowl instead which we filled with Norwegian goodies to adorn our table. My daughter thought i was going mad when she watched me assembling it and corrected me that i should be making it taller, she is correct but i thought this was a nice way to display our treats rather than putting them in a bowl, what do you think?

Setting up the table was a little harder this year with some helpful hands keen to try out the new bakes but with a few handmade decorations, some obligatory flags and flag table runners, my red white and blue Norwegian National day Cake table was complete and ready for us to enjoy and share with our neighbours whom we made cake parcels for, I hate waste and its good to share especially when its cake!

*cake parcels were delivered at a safe distance and social distancing was still enforced *

Flowery Crafts

Pressed Flower Wings

Spring has sprung and its so nice to see flashes of colour back in the garden. The days are warmer and were all spending more time in the garden. Homeschooling is challenging most days but crafts and activities always seem to help with the teaching and learning. Whilst searching for crafts to do with my daughter around the theme of ‘spring’ I found lots of wonderful projects using pressed flowers and thought these would be great to do to help learn more about spring. So we thought we’d share some tried and tested projects.

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Don’t go Loo-py

So as the UK and we’ll most of the world goes into shut down, we all getting used to a very different way of life. I never thought I’d ever see something like this in my life time but for now this is how it is and I’m determined to try see the positives, I get to spend more time with my daughter who has just started school so I’ve missed those extra days spent crafting together, I’ve had massive mum guilt having recently gone back to work about the lack of time I feel I have with my one year old son too and I get to see my husband more too, so any extra time is a bonus.

I am lucky to be with my family to have each other. but lets face it this is a routine that although with its good point come equally hard parts and i know that after just two short weeks isolated at home im starting to feel I’m going a little loopy! juggling life, home schooling and coping with the house looking like we’ve been burgled is challenging but I’ve found that ‘craft time’ has become a great way for me and my children to take some time out, let our imaginations take over and for those few hours forget the worries of the day and just enjoy getting crafty together.

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Tree of Memories – Scandi Market 2019

Its that time of year again, my favourite time, not just because of the baked treats but also because of the ‘magic’, yes now we have children in the house the magic of Christmas is so alive. I am one for traditions and keeping these alive for my children as my parents did for me. So when I was planning for this years Scandi Market I wanted to add some new items to my ‘little taste of Norway’ collection, so I turned to ‘traditions’ as my inspiration.

The biggest tradition we keep is the Norwegian (Scandinavian) Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve (instead of Christmas Day) and this is still always spent at my mum and dads house all together, with a large pork roast and present opening before the stockings are hung out for Christmas Day morning. The focal point of these family celebrations still revolves around the Christmas tree as it has always done, it’s always a real tree with that wonderful christmassy smell and the decorations that adored my mum and dads house and the tree had been collected over the years and all have a little story attached to them, a large majority are Norwegian and now over 40 years old. To this day these same decorations come out year after year and my siblings and me always want to be there to help put them up the same way we remember from our childhood.


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The Norwegian Cozy

Norwegians are amongst the happiest people in the world, along with their fellow Scandinavian counterparts, this is in spite of their extreme cold winters and long dark nights, they seem to know how to embrace the harsh outside and enjoy this time of year in the Norwegian way! They even have a word which sums up how they deal with this… ‘KOSELIG’ it has no direct translation into English and a single word like “coziness” doesn’t fully encapsulate it’s in-depth meanings.

Ive often believed children have the purest view of the world, as they enjoy the simple things and are less effected by what adult life brings. As I watch my daughter building her den using our dinning room chairs, every cushion in the house, several knitted blankets, she lines up all of her cuddly friends, packs some wooden play food (incase she gets hungry of course) and a lantern for when it gets dark (ever so practical even at the age of 4), I feel she is setting up what KOSELIG is to her, she has surrounded her self with all the things which make her happy, all the things she thinks she needs to get cozy.

You might expect that Norwegians would suffer from sad effective disorder, especially with 70% of this long country being inhabitable and often some areas being very isolated, during these harsh wintery months but no, why is that, maybe its because they create their own version of my daughters den, with warm lite fires, snuggled under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee (Norwegians drink alot of the stuff every year) surrounded by family and friends with bowls of sweet yummy bakes and treats enjoying each other’s company and often this is all done in a snug cabin in nature surround by beauty, why wouldn’t this make you happy? You have everything you need to enjoy the moments, the memories and take a break from the busy lives we live, where your personal well being is at its best, free and rested.

For this winter season I decided I wanted to try and encapsulate this KOSELIG feeling in a gift box. I have been developing my “my little taste of Norway” range for a few years now and have already designed some traditional makes and bakes using family recipes and childhood memories, so creating a KOSELIG gift box was a way to put these altogether. I wanted to try and use our sense as a starting point to build my gift box so that taste, touch, smell are key so you just need to add sound (hearing) and setting (sight).

KOSELIG is the feeling of cosiness, intimacy, happiness, warmth, being content and getting together in a snug, delightful and comfortable place and although I cannot ‘make’ you feel it, I hope I can help create the atmosphere in which you can, so switch off from the everyday, light a candle, display your julenisse (Christmas gnome), invite your friends and family around, open the bag of yummy Norwegian biscuits and get snuggly, enjoy my Norwegian treats and find your happy KOSELIG place.

As a graphic designer and baker I’m very lucky I can both brand and make all my products, although this would be my first attempt at a gift box. I knew I wanted to try and make the packaging reusable, eco friendly (where possible) and that items within could be used over and over (I mean except if the biscuits, once there gone there gone) so that it wasn’t just a gift that was used just once, but something that can come out year year.

My little julenisse were where my Norwegian ranged started really, I’ve grown up with my mother having more varieties of these fun festive characters than you can imagine (read my tree of memories post) but this was what Christmas looked like to me and nisse always featured heavily, so was a big reason why i started making my own nisse designs. I’ve added to the original four designs over the years and this year I added my 7th designed character in honour of my son Espen to my nisse family. I believe a product should tell a story, and this is mine, a journey of discovery and learning more about my heritage, techniques and about me and I carry this over into all I make for this range from the packaging to the names of my products.

The other item which has been on my journey since the beginning is my biscuit collection (syv julekjeks – 7 Christmas biscuits) which was born out of a love for my family recipes collected over the years which have been passed down to me. I spent a long time trialling and testing which of my family favourite would make it into the set and you can read more about them in my post. These sweet treats are made for sharing and enjoying especially in the winter season, with traditional scents and flavours of cardamon, cinnamon and almonds, there perfect for getting ‘KOSELIG’, so two yummy bags would feature in my gift box as well.

But although I will turn my skills to most crafts there’s something others do so well already that a collaboration is the way forward instead of learning to do it myself. I’ve worked with a fellow maker Ash owner of wattie wicks candles to create some candle wax melts that are a perfect addition to this box to ensure all the senses are invited to become more KOSELIG. I worked on the idea of day and night and the differences between them and wanted fragrances which reflected them, Ash was great and suggesting options and working with me to find the perfect blend for them both. Soft vanilla notes for Nysnø (new snow) and a warm seasonal spice aroma for julelys (christmas light), a wonderful balance of smells ready for melting and for these boxes im also including some wax burners to complete the set.

Branding for all these goodies was important also to tie everything together, so of course the Norwegian ribbon tag features and the dark grey i use for my branded table blanket, natural wood wool and white box content and labelling to complete my first scandi inspired box of goodies.

My Koselig gift box made its debut at the scandi market and was a big hit for that special ready made gift, it worked perfectly with my other items and with the choice of picking your own biscuits and nisse proved a popular choice.