Sunday morning, Jerry began to prepare his Christmas kransekake, the Norwegian "wreath cake" of the 18 stacked concentric rings of years past. You may remember, 2009 was a stellar year in the production of kransekake in Jerry's kitchen. Although the flavor was not exactly as remembered from our 2004 Christmas in Bergen, Norway, the tower looked perfect, . The 2010 product tasted good but was structurally un-sound and didn't stand the test of time.
|KRANSEKAKE, 2009 (LEFT). 2010 WITH HELP FROM PHOTOSHOP.|
Jerry had looked forward with a bit of trepidation to creating kransekake this year in our new Spanish kitchen using our new Spanish appliances and baking in our new Spanish oven with its Celsius instead of Fahrenheit readings, and with ingredients from our new Spanish supermarket. Jerry is used to buying bags of powdered sugar. He couldn't find bags in Sevilla but did find the same product called "azucar glace" in what looks like a large salt shaker. He had all the kransekake ring pans greased and ready, but ran out of "azucar glace" while preparing the batter. That was Sunday morning, Christmas Day. All the stores were closed. So, everything sat on the counter until Monday when I ran over to El Corte Inglés and picked up two more containers of "azucar glace." But, Jerry then decided that he'd really prefer to mix it up in a food processor (since that's what he'd done in the past). That's one appliance we hadn't yet replaced. So another trip to El Corté Ingles, which had plenty on the shelves but none apparently in stock. Our two good appliance stores were closed Monday for Christmas.
After setting aside the kransekake makings Sunday afternoon, Jerry decided to bake his delicious lemon-raspberry bars. A huge success! The oven worked. The bars were perfection. Teré and Miguel invited us to dinner at the home of friends last night. We brought a plate of the bars and Jerry now, I think, has friends for life. I've included the recipe further down in this post. Sorry I didn't include the European conversions. Jerry's got those hand-scratched onto his recipe and I don't want to make a mess of things.
|LEMON-RASPBERRY SHORTBREAD PERFECTION.|
The kransekake rings sat on the counter until Tuesday morning when we could get over to Casa de Las Planchas to buy a new food processor. Casa de Las Planchas did not have food processors, only blenders. After lunch, I did a web search and found a small appliance store about a 15-minute walk from the house. I walked over. They didn't carry anything bigger than a blender either. So, I hopped on the bus and went to the other El Corte Inglés (in Nervion), about a 35-minute walk from here. I found a great salesman and a great food processor. The box was huge. I planned to take the bus home, but the handle on the shopping bag broke before I even left the store, so I grabbed a cab.
|TASTES EXACTLY RIGHT. NOW TO GET IT OUT OF THE PANS AND INTO A TOWER.|
Jerry was elated and immediately unpacked and washed every piece so he could finish his kransekake. In the process, he discovered that one of the most important parts was not in the box. So, now I have to head back to El Corte Inglés. Meanwhile, Jerry made do and mixed up his kransekake batter with what he had available. He baked it and, since we were going to Triana for dinner, he left it in the pans overnight. There was some extra batter, so Jerry baked that for snacking. It was delicious, tasting exactly as we remembered from Norway, but the texture was a bit cake-like. We hoped it would harden more as it cooled or it wouldn't be able to support itself once stacked — just like last year. I was out this afternoon and came home to the messy remains of one ring pan. Jerry had tried to remove the kransekake from the pan and could only tear it apart. At the time I took the above photo, one pan was already soaking in the sink. So much for kransekake 2011.
Experiment with other flavors of jam such as strawberry or blackberry.
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 large lemons)
1/2 cup raspberry jam (Jerry uses a lot more)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Make the crust: In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, blend together the flour, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and butter until crumbly. With lightly floured hands, press the mixture evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Mix in the granulatd sugar, flour, baking powder, and lemon juice. Set aside until the crust is done.
4. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the warm crust with the jam. Quickly remix the lemon topping and pour it over the jam. Return to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is a golden brown. Let cool.
5. Just before serving, sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar through a strainer. Cut into 36 bars, 1-1/2 inches by 2 inches.
Makes 3 dozen bars
Each bar has: 144 calories, 5.7g fat (3.4g saturated), 2g protein, 22g carbohydrates (0.2 g fiber), 37 mg cholesterol, 22 mg sodium.
What an amazing evening we had with Teré, Miguel, their friends, Juliette and José (who graciously welcomed us into their home), and Fernando and Nikki. I probably should have changed their names (to protect the innocent?); you'll see why when you watch the videos below. Spanish, English, Greek, German, French, and Russian were all spoken last night — but mostly Spanish and English. The food (everyone brought something) was incredible. The company and conversation was beyond compare. Jerry and I walked home — on air — at 1:30 in the morning.
|AVENIDA DE LA CONSTITUCIÓN LAST WEEK (LEFT)|
AND AFTER HOURS LAST NIGHT AS WE HEADED HOME.
Miguel and Teré, who have already been way too kind to us, put together "musical" Christmas gift bags for Jerry and me, which included a bottle of anise (which, with the aid of a spoon, makes surprising music), a pandero (tambourine), and a small zambomba. Zambombas are popular Spanish "friction" instruments traditionally used at Christmas. They can be quite large and make an obscene sound (and require the player to have absolutely no shame). The group sang and showed us how to use our gifts. Teré proudly played the zambomba.
THE 27 DECEMBER PERFORMANCE OF "NOCHE BUENA" ("CHRISTMAS EVE").
JERRY. NO SHAME.