Baking Through Fika: Pepparkakor (Gingerbread Cookies)

When I first bought the Fika cookbook and saw this recipe I knew we’d be making these for Christmas.  But as all things seem to go in my house, I almost forgot to make them!  Here they are just in time.


I thought it was going to be this perfect afternoon with my two older kids.  All laughter and smiles, Christmas music playing in the background, my little guy playing happily in his high chair watching us and not fussing.  But once I started getting everything together for our cookie decorating I was reminded that rarely does that perfect experience you’ve created in your head actually come to fruition.  Not only is that just the way life goes, but kids are just unpredictable.  My daughter was having a longer than normal nap, and if we wanted to get finished before dinner we had to go on without her.  My son was just impatient with the process of getting it all ready.  I had the cookies made ahead of time, but had to make frosting and gather sprinkles, and then I had to explain to him what to do when all he wanted to do was do it!  A few times while I was getting everything set up he said, “I think I’ll just go do legos/play outside/get my cars instead, mom.”

Thankfully he did sit down with me for a good while and decorate.  And he liked it! He was even bummed when we ran out of cookies to decorate.  I’d love to instill, if not a passion for cooking and baking, at the very least a good understanding of the kitchen in my kids. I recently started participating in Kids Chefs Club.  Every month you receive a cooking tool, a card with activities and recipes, and access to online content to help your child learn about being safe in the kitchen, kitchen tools, nutrition and basic kitchen skills.  The first month my son got the apron he’s wearing in the pictures below.  Every time he helps me cook he wants to put it on.  We are going on our third month.  My kids’ desire to help me with meals has increased a great deal.  That has been both very exciting and very challenging.


Cooking with kids takes longer and is messier than cooking on your own.  It also takes a good bit of patience and a great deal of letting go!  I like control in the kitchen, so letting my kids help has been tough, but really good for me, and it’s been great for them.  If you’re interested in trying Kids Chefs Club here is a discount code that will give you 20% off any membership plan, either 3, 6 or 12 months.  It’s valid until the end of the year, December 31, 2015!  Just use HolidayFriends15 at checkout.  If you need a last minute gift, this would be a great one.


Now about these cookies!  They are spiced wonderfully and I really enjoy the crunch they have…if you bake them right 😉  I forget how much I love cardamom sometimes, but then I notice it in something and am reminded of how warm and unique and wonderful it is.  These take a little time and patience.  Instead of simply creaming butter with sugar to begin, you must boil together sugar, molasses and water which you then mix into the butter. After cooling it down, you make the dough.  Then you have to chill the dough for at least 24 hours.  If I’m not in a time crunch, this type of recipe is good for me since I often don’t have the freedom to complete a recipe start to finish without interruption from the kids.  So spreading it out over a couple days was no problem!  I wasn’t stressed thinking, “Oh! I have to finish those cookies!” I was able to finish part of the recipe and think, “Now I just have to wait.  The recipe says I can take a break.  Thank, you recipe.”

My first batch was the best.  Working with a little dough at a time (since it warms up and gets soft pretty quickly) roll and cut your cookies. Bake for 4-6 minutes at 400°F, “but don’t overbake!” says the recipe. I did 5 minutes and they were a teensiest bit dark but good.  My next batch I did for 4 and a half minutes.  They were soft coming out of the oven and I just thought they’d set up nicely after they cooled.  So I did 4 and a half minutes for the rest of them.  After the first batch they did not get that nice crunch that pepparkakor should have. They still tasted great, but were on the soft side.  I tried to bake them more after they’d cooled with not much luck.  Now I know that while overbaking is bad, so is underbaking.  You basically need perfect baking time.  Good luck!  I’d rather have them a little overbaked (but not burnt) to be honest, nice and crunchy.  But that’s just me.






To decorate I used royal icing so that it would harden completely.  It isn’t the tastiest, but you get mostly spice from the cookie and a simple sweet crunch from the icing.  This recipe is what I used.  It’s more than you need, and you will have to add some water to make it more pipe-able.  Just a teaspoon at a time until you get it where you want it.

I’ve seen so many insanely beautiful holiday cookies all over blogs and on Instagram lately that I was feeling like I’d better do something awesome.  But there’s no joy in trying to do something just as or more awesome as other people.  So we had fun with these and didn’t worry about all those other people.  Enjoy and have fun with these!





  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 1/2 ounces butter cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon (equal to 1 1/2 teaspoons) ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3 cups flour plus more for rolling


  1. Combine sugar, molasses and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add in the butter, stir to melt completely.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix flour and the rest of the dry ingredients together.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix to combine.  Place dough in a plastic bag and chill for 24-48 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F
  4. Work with a handful of dough at a time (return what you’re not using to the fridge) and roll out on a floured surface, cut desired shapes and move to a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 4-6 minutes, until cookies begin to brown on the edges.

Daring Bakers: Dutch Sweet Bread

I am pleased to say that I have successfully completed an entire year of The Daring Bakers!  Wahoo!  It ended with this Dutch sweet bread that I got to bring to our family Christmas.

Dutch Sweet Bread | Hottie Biscotti

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.


This bread has nice flavor.  It was chewy and is most delicious eaten toasted with a spread of butter.

I’m keeping this post short since I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table at my parents house.  So I’m off to spend some more time with them and laugh uncontrollably at silly things with my sisters.  Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Dutch Sweet Bread


  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 cup less 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon ground gingerbread spices
  • 1¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used all purpose)
  • 1¾ teaspoons baking powder

Gingerbread Spice Blend

  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and sugar a loaf pan.
  2. Put the egg, syrup, water, spices and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until everything is dissolved.
  3. Add the flour and the baking powder into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet. Some lumps are ok.
  4. Pour into the pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Candied Ginger

During Top Chef season 5, I absolutely loved Carla Hall.  I thought she was the sweetest chef to ever grace the show, and her quirkiness was so endearing.  She seemed like someone I’d like to cook with, unlike some of the people on the show.  She’s now on The Chew, a daytime foodie talk show that I almost never watch, mostly because if my television is on when my kids are awake we are watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Peppa Pig or Umi Zoomi.  I happened to catch a part of an episode recently where she made gingerbread sandwiches, a gingerbread loaf with a couple of different fillings, lemon cream cheese and a cranberry compote.  The next day I bought the necessary ingredients.  But it took me a while to actually make the gingerbread.  I finally got around to it this week.


This gingerbread isn’t sweet.  There’s no sugar other than what’s in the ginger beer and the molasses.  It’s very spicy and dense, so it pairs well with the light and sweet cream cheese glaze.  The candied ginger provides texture and makes the mini muffins especially lovely.  While this wasn’t what I was expecting when I made this bread, it is a nice cold weather treat and would be perfect paired with hot chocolate and eaten in front of the fire.  Have I mentioned that it’s 76 here with 80% humidity?  I won’t be sitting in front of a fire anytime soon, but if your weather permits it, please sit in front of a fire and drink hot chocolate for me.

I ran into some issues when I made this bread, so be warned.  If you go to The Chew’s website and follow the instructions for this bread without reading the comments you will be a sad and sorry baker.  And possibly an angry baker, if you’re anything like me.  Shouldn’t they have people whose job it is to read and test the recipes they post on their site?   After mixing up the batter I thought that it looked like an awful lot for one 9 inch loaf pan (which is what the original recipe calls for).  So I filled my pan about 3/4 full and still had a ridiculous amount of batter left.  I could have easily filled another loaf pan, but instead opted to make some mini muffins.  Then I looked at the comments and realized that almost every person complained about the same thing, way too much batter for 1 loaf.  I still had some batter left over, but had made such a mess of my kitchen by this point that I didn’t want to get another thing dirty.  Remember to ALWAYS read comments on a recipe before you make it.  I’m glad I read them before pouring all the batter into one pan.  It would’ve been a disaster.


 Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Candied Ginger

From Carla Hall on The Chew

Makes 2 9-inch loaves or 1 9 or 10-inch loaf and 24 mini muffins


For the Gingerbread

  • 2 cups dark molasses
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup strong Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer
  • 4 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream or buttermilk
  • 4-5 pieces of candied ginger, chopped, for garnish

For the Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 4 ounces of softened cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Gingerbread

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour your pans.
  2. Combine butter, molasses and ginger ale in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture boils.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift flour, salt, spices and soda together in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Transfer the molasses mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer.
  5. Beat the eggs into the molasses mixture until well combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream/buttermilk in 5 total additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Continue to mix on medium low speed until thoroughly combined.
  7. Bake loaves for 45-55 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.  Bake mini muffins for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Glaze

  1. Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Spread onto cooled gingerbread loaves or mini muffins.
  4. Use candied ginger to garnish loaves and muffins.

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread House

For years before my sisters starting getting married, having babies and spending Christmas with their in-laws, we made gingerbread houses together.  We did all of it: made the gingerbread dough, baked all the pieces, assembled the house, and decorated the house using nothing but edible candies, chocolate, etc.  We would spend the days before Christmas, and sometimes a day or two afterward, perfecting the house and adding more detail.  It was so much fun.

So, I was pretty excited about this challenge.  When I really started to think about it, I got a little sad.  I had no one to help me!  No one to stay up til 2 am with, piping icing on gingerbread cars to put in the gingerbread carport.  No one to spend hours with, piping icicles on the eaves. To make things even more difficult, we’re going out of town for the holidays so no one is really going to see it.  My great excitement for my gingerbread house was dwindling.

Despite my negativity toward this challenge, I was determined to complete it.  I am glad I did, because I ended up having a fun time despite the fact that my house looks like a bunch of 3-year olds decorated it for me.  Merry Christmas!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.