How Do You Say Bland in Swedish?: Syltkakor

Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of spending a few days with my good friend Katherine and her family at her parents' lovely lake home on the Michigan Upper Peninsula.  Katherine and I have known each other for over 20 years, since we met at a summer science camp in high school.  Our favorite pastimes whenever we have a chance to get together are decidedly low key: playing Scrabble, watching mindless television programs, cooking, and baking.

This was my first trip to the Upper Peninsula, and I was entranced by the beautiful house and its serene environs.  I have never had a more relaxing vacation; my only worry was making sure that I didn't miss the spectacular sunsets on the lake.  Katherine was also able to help me out with a request for some recipes that use baker's ammonia.  Since I recently bought a bottle of the stuff from King Arthur Flour to make vanilla dreams, I've been wondering what else I can do with it.  I am planning to try making springerle for the holidays, but that's a little ways off.  But I knew that baker's ammonia is used in Swedish baking, and being of Swedish descent, Katherine was able to supply me with some recipes from a Swedish cookbook her parents had at the lake.

The first recipe I tried when I got home was Syltkakor, or Jam Cookies.  You simply cream together 10 tablespoons of butter with 1/2 cup sugar, add in 2 eggs, and then stir in 3 cups of flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon baking ammonia.  This particular recipe instructs you to divide the dough into ten pieces, form each piece into a 10-inch length, and the roll out each piece until it's 2-inches wide.  Then you're supposed to make a depression along the length the dough with a wooden spoon handle and fill it with jam before baking the cookies.  After the cookies are baked at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, you cut the cookies diagonally into 1-inch pieces, and frost them with an icing of powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water.

While it was easy enough for me to divide the dough into pieces that I shaped into ropes, the dough was too sticky to try to roll to a 2-inch width or to make a trough with the handle of a spoon.  So I completely shaped these cookies by hand.  I filled them with seedless raspberry spreadable fruit and skipped the icing.

I was surprised that these cookies did not have the super dry, crisp texture of the King Arthur vanilla dreams -- although I think I may have slightly underbaked them, even though I left the cookies in the oven for slightly longer than directed.  I could overlook the disappointing texture, but the main complaint I have about these cookies is that the dough has no flavor.  The bites of cookie with jam were very tasty, but the bites of plain cookie were just bland.  Perhaps these would have been more flavorful if I had added the icing, but I think that some vanilla and salt would fix the problem (I didn't notice before I baked these that the recipe doesn't call for any salt; perhaps the use of salted butter is assumed).  I'd like to try this recipe again with some vanilla and salt, but until then, I would definitely rank Gale Gand's Giant's Thumbprint Cookies as a far superior jam cookie.

I'm looking forward to working my way through the stack of other Swedish recipes that Katherine gave me! 

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Louise said…
This post really made me giggle. I've been to Norway and Sweden more than 25 times and I don't think baked goods are their strong points. I find Daim Bars (candy) to be better than our Skor, and search them out. Try putting a little bakers ammonia in your Faux-reo recipe.