Don’t miss Fika and Hygge, the new book by Bronte Aurell, with over 60 recipes for cakes, bakes, and treats from all over Scandinavia. Plus, we have a recipe to share…
What is Fika and Hygge?
Fika is the Swedish word meaning to meet up for a cup of coffee or tea over something delicious. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) means “a sublime state of cosiness you feel when you are with loved ones and nothing else matters”. Think warm log fire, a good movie, a cup of something warm, and a sweet treat…
Danish Vanilla Cookies Recipe
“There are many traditional Scandinavian biscuits that use baker’s ammonia (ammonium carbonate) as a leavening agent instead of baking soda or baking powder. Also known as salt of hartshorn, it used to be made from ground male deer’s antlers, but is now chemically constructed. For these Swedish Drömmar it is worth getting hold of – once baked, it creates a chemical reaction which results in a melt-in-the-mouth, super-crispy but fragile finish” – Bronte Aurell, of The ScandiKitchen.
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar OR extract OR use the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
80ml neutral-tasting oil (such as a good rapeseed or sunflower oil)
240g plain flour
1/2 tsp baker’s ammonia (otherwise known as ammonium carbonate) available at speciality shops, online and in pharmacies
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 baking sheets, greased and lined with baking parchment
1. Cream together the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand-held electric whisk.
2. Next add the vanilla and oil and beat again until combined. Add the plain flour, baker’s ammonia and lemon zest and mix briefly until you have an even dough.
3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) Gas 2.
5. Roll the chilled dough into small balls of around 15 g each, trying not to overwork the dough. Evenly distribute the balls on the prepared baking sheets. There is no need to flatten the dough, as the biscuits will spread by themselves when baking.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. The biscuits will not darken much in colour, so remove from the oven when they have only a slight tinge of gold and slightly cracked tops. Try not to open the oven door during at least the first half of the baking.
7. Leave to cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container. The baker’s ammonia means the biscuits will stay crisp, even when baked at a low temperature.
Variations (omit the lemon zest):
For a hazelnut variation: add 50 g/1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts.
For an almond variation: add one whole almond on top before baking.
For a festive variation: add a pinch of ground saffron when you cream together the butter and sugar.
Note: When the biscuits bake, a strong smell of ammonia will be present – but don’t worry, this is normal and the smell goes as soon as the biscuits cool. Just open the window a bit – and don’t eat the dough before baking.
The ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge – by Bronte Aurell, photography by Peter Cassidy and published by Ryland Peters & Small.
Read our interview with Bronte Aurell here.