Recipe: Swedish ginger biscuits // pepparkakor

I love these biscuits and can eat a whole trayful if left to my own devices, without even letting them cool down properly from the oven! They’re not hard, like the sort of gingerbread you buy in high-street bakeries in Britain, and have a lot more flavour because of the range of spices included. They are quintessentially very Scandinavian, and normally you can buy them at outdoor Christmas markets, along with a steamy hot mug of glögg, which is the Swedish version of mulled wine. On a cold, snowy Swedish night, it’s just what you need to warm the cockles.

The dough will only get better and better the longer that it’s kept. My festive idea this year is to wrap portions of the dough in wax paper, all pretty with ribbons or bakers twine, and give it as a gift. In my book, there’s nothing better than receiving a delicious present you can eat and share, especially one where all the messy work has been done for you.

Swedish pepparkakor biscuits

  • 150g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon ground cloves
  • ½ tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100ml water
  • 450g plain flour

In a large bowl mix together the butter, sugar and golden syrup and beat until creamy.

Add all the spices along with the bicarbonate of soda and combine until smooth again. I like to grind spices freshly as much as I can – I use a pepper mill that I keep especially for my spices but you can always use a pestle and mortar or a clean coffee grinder instead. Personally, I think you get the best flavours from grinding fresh, especially with heavily perfumed spices like cardamom or cloves.

Stir in the water and flour and bring everything together into a shaggy dough. At this point, it’s easier to turn it out onto the countertop and knead it with your hands. A lightly floured surface will stop the dough from sticking.

Once the dough is smooth, pop it back into the bowl, cover and rest it in the fridge overnight. Don’t be tempted to skip this step as its really important to let the flavours mature.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200 degrees c. On a floured surface, roll out the dough as thin as you possibly can. You’re aiming to get it like tracing paper if you can! Use a cutter to punch out shapes and transfer them to a baking tray prepared with greaseproof paper. If you choose to use a fiddly shape cutter, like me, then you might need to use a blunt knife to tease the dough out of the mould.

Bake for about 5 minutes each, until the cookies are golden in colour, and then remove them from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To finish, sprinkle over a little vanilla sugar and enjoy with a cuppa something warm.

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