Pebernødder – a recipe

I posted the other day about our Christmas tradition of making pabernødder, but I failed to post the recipe I use. You’ve complained, and rightly so. So, without further ado …

PebernødderYou need

  • 250g butter
  • 2 1/4 dl sugar
  • 1 tbsp treacle (or syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • black pepper to taste
  • 375g flour

(EDIT (2016): You may find the result too heavy with real butter.  In Denmark we can buy margarine made for baking.  I find I like the result better using that, especially margarine of the brand “Oma”).

Whip sugar and butter thoroughly. Beat egg into mix (if you’re doubling up the recipe, beat one egg into mix at a time). Add baking soda, spices, flour. Put dough in fridge for a bit – it’s easier to work with when below room temperature. Take a small portion of dough, roll gently to form a bar, 1-2 cm thick. Cut into even pieces, again 1-2 cm. Distribute pieces evenly on pan. Do not worry about shape, they melt while baking and get a roundish shape. Bake for about 15 mins at 150 degC, on a high shelf in the oven. The cookies must darken to light brown. Take from oven and remove from pan to cool; they are a bit soft when taken from the oven, but turn crispy as they cool. Now repeat with as many pans as you have dough for.

I use three times the amount above for the portion show in the previous blog entry.

Of course, being traditional cookies, there’s about as many recipes as there are Danes. My mum had another but mostly bought pebernødder so I have little experience with hers. My mother in law use one that result in pebernødder that are smaller, lighter, and much harder. The one I use my wife picked up during university days from our friend Søren, who had it from his mother. It right away became the house favourite; by now we’ve been using it for 20+ year. Tip-of-the-hat to Søren’s mother.

Pebernødder!

Pebernødder (pepper nuts) is a traditional Danish Christmas cookie. It’s a small, crunchy, light cookie, slightly spicy. Like most things traditional, there’s lots of variation, but they usually involve cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Some like to make them hard (like real nuts), mine are more crispy.

In my famlly, pebbernødder is always the first cookie we do. We make a huge batch as the season is getting started, ready for the first seasonal get-together. The batch is made so that pebernødder can be a steady ingredient of family and social life all through December.

IMG_2742

(pebernødder piled up for cooling)

Since pebernødder is the first cookie we do for the season, baking them is special. Baking is always fun, and a great way to spend time with kids. Baking Pebernødder involves a lot of simple, repeated tasks, easily done by kids – and the result is quick in coming, and tasty. In Denmark, winter is mostly dark and cold, and so we enjoy cozy, relaxed activities we can do together indoors – “hygge”, we call it. This is probably why we like the xmas season; it’s a chance to do a lot of things we like doing anyway.

Baking pebernødder is traditionally the first xmas thing we do, and it’s certainly fun and relaxed. You get to spend a lot of time together, talking, drinking tea, collaborating. And we get in the mood for all the other traditions coming up for the season. A nice time for the grownups, and kids love it.

Pebernødder (Danish Xmas cookies)

(Done: 2 kg pebernødder.  Xmas can begin)

(Update: recipe here)

iPad – the ideal kitchen appliance

I’m on a quest for the iPad killer app. Not the Apple need one, with two million units sold the first two months. It’s more of a personal quest to discover if the iPad has a place in my computing & information universe.

There’s always the cool factor, of course. There’s street cred in having an iPad – although interestingly I’ve had better luck getting in touch with members of the appropriate sex with the Kindle. The iPad evokes “oh, cool” – the Kindle generates genuine interest and conversation. But I digress. I’ve been toying with the iPad, tried Apps, taken it to meetings, on trips, and into the living room. All nice, but not quite convincing.

Taking the iPad into the kitchen, however, has been a runaway success. I like cooking, and I like being in my kitchen. Over the years I’ve collected a lot of recipes, and I have the classical information management problem. I’ve tried folders of clippings, post-it notes in books, binders with printed recipes, neatly typed into a LaTeX and sorted by category and type. And still I’ve found it impractical. I’ve tried recipes typed into a computer and found that I either always had the recipe on the wrong computer or had trouble managing multiple versions of the recipe documents.

Enter Google docs. A while ago I started entering my recipes into Google docs. It’s ideal – I can access it from any computer, I can update from anywhere and access it any time I need it. Just take a laptop – any laptop – into the kitchen when cooking, And this is where the iPad comes in. It’s ideal for this; Google docs works perfectly, browsing files is fast and easy, the device sits neatly next to you on the kitchen tape, you don’t have the screen sticking up so you don’t knock it over, and it’s easy to turn on and off, put aside with one hand, etc. Clearly the iPad will be the way I access my recipes in the future. It lets me do the job without taking focus away from cooking.

This tells us something about what the iPad is. It’s a perfect information appliance – especially for this kind of light use. It’s perfect for accessing information when the information access isn’t your actual task. It’s so easy to grab it, get at the information, and continue the actual job. The iPad does not get in the way or force you to think of information access as a separate process. In that way it’s more like a piece of paper than a computer. In this the iPad is transformative; it’s not just a smaller, sexier, cooler computer, or an overgrown cellphone. It’s a new device that promotes better and more integrated information access. If you’re doing something where information access is an integral part of the job, the iPad might very well be the answer. For me that kind of task is cooking, and the iPad sure fits the bill. If only they would come out with a rugged, water- and flour-proof version.