Kransekake: the queen of cakes!

Around the world, holidays are an excuse for ambitious baking projects and, above all, for eat! But few delicacy are as architecturally impressive as the almond-based cake Kransekake, a Norwegian (and Danish) speciality. Its origin can be traced to the 18th century, where it was first created by a baker in Copenhagen. The Kransekake (or Kransekage in Danish), literally translated as “wreath cake”, is a type of tower cake. It’s more like a cookie than a cake, bakers make its rings from almond flour, egg whites, and sugar, and arrange…

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22# Black Cake: a Caribbean tradition

If you’re among people who can’t wait to plan (well in advance) Christmas every year, it’s never too early to start preparing the Caribbean holiday treat! Known as black cake or Christmas cake, to prepare this dessert the islanders soak dried fruit in rum and cherry brandy for up to a year before baking. Before baking, the fruit soaks in rum and cherry brandy until it’s so plump and intoxicated, that only good things can come from it! After British colonists introduced plum pudding, which is more like cake than…

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19# Fruitcake: the gift that keeps on giving

American journalist and humorist Calvin Trillin theorized that there is only one fruitcake and that it is simply sent from family to family each year. What is true, is that most Americans turn their noses at the very thought of fruitcake even though, for some reason, this item keeps making the rounds and this is made possible because the cakes are soaked in alcohol or other liquors to keep them from go bad. Don’t believe me? This man sampled a cake that someone had kept as a family heirloom dating…

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8# The delicious history of the Yule Log Cake – or bûche de Noël

Paris at Christmastime is heaven for sweet tooth. Even if, patisseries on virtually every street corner is attractive at any time of year, there’s something magical about windows packed with elaborately decorated little logs. I discovered that few French people celebrate Christmas without one of these Yule log cake, known also as bûche de Noël, a Christmas cake with a ritualistic and interesting past. Cleverly shaped and decorated to look like a 3-D little log, the cake represents a melding of ancient midwinter traditions: one that celebrated the end of…

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7# Ul Boov: the Mongolian “shoe sole cake“

We are in Mongolia. Tsagaan Sar, arguably Mongolia’s most important holiday, is the celebration of the Lunar New Year, held a month after the first new moon following the Winter Solstice. Tsagaan means “white” and Sar can be translated as “month” or “moon”. When locals celebrate the Lunar New Year with a days-long holiday, that like the best holidays, is all about family, the centerpiece is usually a fabulous ul boov. Ul boov in the lyrical, literal style of the Mongolian language means “shoe sole cake”, probably a humble name…

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4# Christmas Cake and Cheese: a big deal in Yorkshire – England!

Yorkshire, a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom, has its a curious variety of weird and wonderful traditions often unknown on the rest of the world. There is also one festive custom which probably is set to take dinner tables by storm, in future. The poor fruitcake has gotten a bad rap over the past few decades, and it is not just a cellophane package. Probably people misunderstand its booze-infused density and fruitiness, chalking up the decision to give such a gift as nothing…

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Frog Cakes, the cute amphibian treats and South Australian icons.

Here we are: Australia is home to more than 200 magnificent species of frogs, including one really delicious, comprised almost entirely of sugar! The frog cake is a sweet treat in the shape of a crouched frog, so beloved in its native Adelaide that it was recently deemed a South Australian Heritage Icon. At its heart, the frog has two pieces of sponge cake joined by a thin layer of jam and topped with a scoop of buttercream. To transform this pastry into a frog, bakers coat everything with green…

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The Canadian Potato Museum~

Here we are: Many people visit Canada’s Prince Edward Island because they are passionate about literature. The island, in fact, was the setting of the beloved Anne of Green Gables novels. However, for people less inclined toward tracing the footsteps of the fictional Anne Shirley, the western end of the island offers a more down-to-earth experience, as the town of O’Leary is the home of the Canadian Potato Museum. Open from mid-May to mid-October, the museum showcases the local potato industry and sports the “world’s largest exhibits of potato-related farm…

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Mizu Shingen Mochi: it looks like a water drop but it is in reality a Japanese cake!

Its name is Mizu Shingen Mochi and it’s one of the most curious Japanese specialities. This unusual rice cake looks like a giant drop of water and its life is just 30 minutes, once pulled out of its mold, before returning to a liquid form. Its creators describe it as fresh and tasty, so soft as to…melt in your mouth! The preparation does not seem to be extremely difficult, but it is essential to dose the right amounts of ingredients to achieve the “Water Drop” effect. The recipe, that is…

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New Orleans: the King Cake with a hidden baby Jesus inside~

Americans celebrates the new year with countless diets and lifestyle resolutions, but many people across the world, particularly those from predominantly Catholic countries, celebrate the calendar change with a sweet pastry known as king cake. Some associate it with Mardi Gras, others with the celebration of Epiphany. King cake is traditionally eaten on January 6 in honor of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, which historically marks the arrival of the three wise men/kings in Bethlehem who delivered gifts to the baby Jesus. (The plastic baby hidden inside king cakes today is…

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Bled Island Potica: a delicacy from Slovenia.

Here we are: Many people in Slovenia, especially people with a grandma with an affinity for baking, grew up eating potica’s slices. Potica is a traditional cake, and a must for every holiday in Slovenia, be it Christmas, Easter or a family celebration. It’s made from yeast-raised sweet dough, rolled thin and spread with different fillings. Since Slovenia boasts a wealth of culturally diverse regions with a variety of culinary traditions, there are not only one version of the cake, because it’s a versatile shapeshifter that takes on various forms…

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Maryland: Smith Island Cake~

Here we are: This delicious island is known for its refined layer cakes! Smith Island is less and less inhabited. Once populated by over 800 people, the Methodist community twelve miles off the coast of Maryland now has fewer than 200 residents. The remaining men work mostly in a dwindling seafood industry, even as the coastline erodes and water levels rise. And the women from this remote place make something glamorous and delicious: Smith Island Cake! Grandmothers on the quiet island assemble this elegant dessert using 8-12 layers of yellow…

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