Kakemenn “cake men”, also known as hvite kakemenn, julemenn, kagemann and other names, is one of the traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies. They’re especially beloved by children and found particularly in the southern and western parts of Norway.
Kakemenn are reminiscent of a sugar cookie with slightly crispy edges and a soft center. Typically, they’re made with hornsalt (ammonium bicarbonate) as the leaving agent. Since horn salt is not a common ingredient outside of Northern Europe, I’ve made my version with baking soda. The simplicity of the cookie makes it an attractive treat for the holidays and a good pairing with other ones that are richer in warm spices, such as pepperkaker.
The shape of the cookie is in direct reference to its name, although they can also be shaped as women or people, in general, and other shapes these days too. Traditionally, a red dye or icing creates the lines for the eyes, mouth, buttons, and shape of the cookie. Another way of serving these is to dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate.
These are sure to be a hit, and a great activity for decorating with both little and older ones!
Kakemenn (Norwegian Christmas Cookies)
Makes about 30 to 45 cookies
- ½ cup (112 g) butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (180 ml) milk
- 4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
In a large bowl, stir the melted butter and granulated sugar together. Add the milk and combine. Add half of the flour and the baking soda and blend. Add the remaining flour and combine well to form a soft dough. Gather the dough together and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days if you wish to prepare in advance.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two or more baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out the chilled dough about ½ cm thick. Using a cookie cutter or cutters shaped as gingerbread men, cut out shapes and place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 7 minutes or until the edges are just crisping and the center is soft. You want to keep the light color, so do not bake for too long or they’ll turn golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate the cookies with red dye or icing for a traditional look. Alternatively, you can dip the tops in melted chocolate.
Store in a cookie tin for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 3 months.