One of the most popular julekaker “Christmas cookies” in Norway are berlinerkranser. They are buttery and sweet, and a little indulgent just as one would expect from a holiday treat.
“Berlin wreaths”, as their name translates to, are thought to have possibly originated from a baker in Berlin. This, combined with their wreath shape, explains the reasoning behind the name. They are also categorized as the type of baked goods that came to Norway in the 17th century. Before ovens became mainstream in households, baked goods like these could only be bought from bakeries or large farms with their own baking oven.
As I dug deeper into the origins of berlinerkranser, I came across two sources that stated they were called pepitakranser in Bergen during the war. Without any sources, it has been difficult to verify this. As I looked through various publications and cookbooks in the Norwegian National Library, I discovered many references to pepitakranser, from as far back as 1900. In a few instances, it was referred to as the “alternative” to berlinerkranser – one that is easier to make. The recipe for pepitakranser is very similar to berlinerkranser, but it does not include hard boiled egg yolks, rather the whole egg itself and it does not require refrigeration before shaping and baking.
Whether you settle for berlinerkranser or pepitakranser, you’ll no doubt be satisfied either way. These wreaths should regularly, if not always, make an appearance on the holiday table.
Makes around 50 berlinerkranser
- 2 hard boiled egg yolks
- 2 raw egg yolks
- 2/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (250 g) butter at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- Pearl sugar
In a small bowl, break down the hard boiled egg yolks with a fork and then blend together with the raw egg yolks. Place the yolks into a stand mixer and add the sugar, mixing on medium until light and fluffy. Add the butter and flour a little at a time and combine to form a smooth dough.
*To make without a stand mixer: mix together the yolks in a medium bowl, add the sugar and whisk by hand until light and fluffy. In a large bowl, blend the butter into the flour with your hands to form pea-like crumbs. Pour the yolk mixture on top and combine well to form a smooth dough.
Take the bowl with the dough inside, cover it with plastic and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and have ready a baking sheet or two lined with parchment paper.
Taking small pieces of dough at time with your hands, roll the dough into thin sausages – the same thickness as a little finger and around 4-5 inches (10-12 cm) in length – and form into an overlapped wreath shape. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.
Place the wreaths on the prepared baking sheet(s). Whisk the egg white and lightly brush the tops with the egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until light golden.
Let them cool on a cookie rack. When cool, store in a tin box.