American Dream Cakes’ sister company, Saras Pepparkakor, specializes in traditional Swedish holiday sweets; the most important and well known being pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies). Although a traditional pepparkakor shares many similar ingredients as an American gingerbread, they are completely different cookies. This year, 2017 you can find Saras Pepparkakor at American Dream Cakes, bakery as well as at a variety of Christmas fairs in Eastern NC in the month of December. They are currently scheduled to be at the Scandinavian Christmas Fair at Raleigh Fair grounds on 2 Dec. At Poplar Grove’s “A Merry Little Christmas show” in Wilmington on 9 and 10 Dec. And at the Beaufort Christmas Market on 16 Dec. For more information, please call the bakery at 910-346-2347.
Pepparkakor are generally spiced more than their American counterparts, while preserving the satin-like finish of a spice cookie. The original pepparkakor was a honey cookie with pepper for taste. It wasn’t until the 1300’s when imports from Europe became abundant, that the more “traditional” spices of cardamom, clove, ginger and cinnamon replaced the use of pepper. Since these spices were new, and still looked like the pepper used by most Swedes, the name pepparkakor was never changed.
The Swedish pepparkakor differs from American gingerbread in two other distinct ways. First, the Swedish cookies are very thin (usually no more than 1/8” thick) and baked to a firm crisp. American gingerbread tends to be a heavier, thicker cookie. Secondly, pepparkakor does not use molasses as sugar syrup and therefore doesn’t have the strong flavored aftertaste American gingerbread does. This brings out the natural flavor of the spices.
Pepparkakor is a major part of the Swedish Christmas feast. It is often used to decorate the Christmas tree and is said to predict whether or not wishes will come true. Old tradition states that if you place a pepparkakor in the palm of your hand and tap the center of the cookie, if it breaks into three distinct pieces your wish will come true. If it breaks into any more than three, well, you may not get your wish but you still get to enjoy your cookie in bite size pieces.
Tradition doesn’t just run in the cookie; it runs in the family as well. It started with my Great Grandmother Sara making traditional pepparkakor for our family. Generations later I continued making the traditional recipe during the Christmas season when I opened American Dream Cakes bakery. Now, my daughter Sara is following suit by making the cookies available for a whole new generation through the sister company. Saras Pepparkakor is the tradition and the lineage behind the cookie, spanning 5 generations from Great-Great Grandmother to Great-Great Granddaughter.
Mark your calendars for the 2nd, 9th, 10th, and 16th of December, 2017! We would love to see you all at the bakery or at any and all of these Christmas fairs!