When Pat Sinclair asked me if I would like a copy of her newly published cookbook, Scandinavian Classic Baking, I didn’t hesitate to accept. She reached out to me after she read an article I wrote on Danish Open Face Sandwiches for NPR – perhaps recognizing another kindred spirit when it comes to Scandinavian cuisine. Well, she got that right.
Since the book arrived, I have pored through it – that is, when I have had a chance to read it. This book has struck a nostalgic chord in our entire family, with everyone vying for a look and tagging favorite recipes. And there is something for all of us: soft, yeasty cinnamon rolls drizzled with almond icing, cardamom scented breakfast buns, Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and ginger-spiced pepperkakor cookies – to name but a few.
This book is beautifully and thoughtfully compiled, with an authentic collection of recipes representing all of the Scandinavian countries, accompanied by lovely photographs by Joel Butkowski. The recipes in the book are clear, concise and approachable, splendidly representative of Scandinavian cuisine, which is typically unpretentious and uncomplicated. Many of the recipes are supplemented with side bars packed with informative tidbits on Scandinavian culture with tantalizing photos of landmarks and people, elevating this compact book to the cocktail table.
Last weekend we ticked a couple of recipes off of our long list. Since my daughter was helping, she chose to make Desert Sand Cookies and Swedish Apple Pie. As we baked, we chatted about Denmark. We spoke of family, friends and places we look forward to visiting on our next trip. We spoke of holidays and some of our favorite foods. I thought of the traditions that are passed down through generations through recipes, and how these recipes keep memories alive while connecting us as a family. In our well traveled family life this has been exceptionally important, as we mindfully strive to remember our roots and the different countries in which we’ve lived. Now we have a little extra help from Scandinavian Classic Baking.
Desert Sand Cookies
adapted from Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair
The key to these simple butter cookies is the browning of the butter, which gives them their unique and delicious flavor, typically found in Danish Butter Cookies.
Makes 24 (1 1/2-inch) cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter begins to foam, stir constantly until it turns a deep golden brown. Watch it carefully at this point, because the color will change quickly. Cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cooled butter and vanilla to the sugar in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed Add the flour and mix to form a dough. Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch rounds. Place on baking sheet and press a crisscross pattern with a fork. (Dip the tines of the fork in a little flour if it sticks.) Bake 10-12 minutes or until set; they will not brown very much in the oven. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies are fragile until cool.