Recipe for gingerbread cookies or 'pepparkakor'.

While I am writing this post, the rain is tapping against the window. It really is such a perfect day to stay at home, wrapped up under a blanket and with the fire on,  with a cup of hot chocolate and some pepparkakor!

There are a few sweet delights that are absolutely linked to Sweden, like kanelbullar and pepparkakor or ginger cookies. Even though I eat them throughout the year, pepparkakor are really typical for the fall and the weeks before Christmas.

You can choose for the convenience of buying the biscuits at Ikea but if you want your whole house to smell like pepparkakor, you should definitely try to bake them yourself! It takes a little bit of planning because you have to let the dough rest for a day but the result is well worth it!

Tip: make a lot of dough and bake some fresh cookies every day. You can safely store the dough for a few days in the refrigerator. You could even freeze the dough with no problems.

If you’re learning Swedish: en pepparkaka, två pepparkakor

Ingredients for pepparkakor

  • 150 gr of butter
  • 250 gr of crystal sugar
  • 50 gr of honey or syrup
  • 100 ml of water
  • 450 gram of flour
  • a spoon of cinnamon
  • 1 large teaspoon of ginger
  • a teaspoon of cardamom
  • sachet baking powder

How to make pepparkakor

Mix the butter, granulated sugar and honey. Add the seasoning and water. Finally add the flour. Knead this rigidly and let it rest overnight. Cover it and let it rest in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and roll out the dough until it is about half a centimeter thick. Now you can cut shapes to your choice.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and let the cookies bake for five minutes. Be patience while they are cooling off before tasting these delicious cookies!

Tip: Keep the cookies in a sealed tin. Don’t worry about how long you can keep them. They are so tasty that they will be gone and eaten all very fast!

Extra’s suggestions: Decorate the cookies with some frosting or add some almonds or candied pieces of ginger. Real Swedes eat their pepparkaka with glögg!
Genuine creative people make a real gingerbread house with this dough.

History of pepparkakan

It is not immediately clear where pepparkakor come from. Rumor has the Romans already ate these cookies! In England and Germany, the gingerbread cookies are very popular too. Presumably pepparkakor ended up in Sweden via Germany.

In the 14th century, the cookie was on the menu at the wedding of King Magnus Eriksson and Blanka av Namur. In the 15th century they used real peppers in the cookies. The nuns of the Vadstena convent baked cakes and sold them as a medicine. The cookies apparently have a calming effect and help with the digestion. Several centuries later the pepparkakor recipes were found in the cookbooks. In the 18th century it became a real “Christmas cookie”. Now you can find the cookies all year round.

Just like they have a day for kanelbullar, the Swedes also have a pepparkakans dag. This is celebrated every year on December the 9th.

Gingerbread houses

Did you know that there is an annual exhibition/competition of gingerbread houses in Stockholm? You can visit it at ArkDes from the beginning of Advent until the end of the Christmas holidays.

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Swedish recipe gingerbread pepparkakor
Swedish recipe gingerbread pepparkakor

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Heidi. I love gingerbread and once in a while I like to bake too. With the holidays coming up, I think I’m going to try your recipe. I have very sweet memories about Sweden and especially about their “fika”. The best cookies I ever tried.

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