Saturday, October 21, 2006

A short introduction to my grandmothers recipebook

Mark, lod - and kilos - confused?

My grandmother Jenny was born in 1890 and died in 1949. She did, in her recipebook, use both the metric system as well as older measurements not in use today. In order to get her recipes right, I would have to find the correct amount of flour, sugar and butter to use in her recipes.

Thanks to the internet, this is an easy task. I've made an introduction to a few older Norwegian measurements and I've tried to convert these into metric and imperial units.

1 mark / merker (pl), old german weight dating back to 13th century = 233,8 grs or around 1/2 lb

1 lod = 15,556 grs or around 1/2 oz

1 pot = 0,956 ltrs or approx. 2 pts

She also used some unexpected ingredients.

Hjortetakksalt or hornsalt. The name means salt made from a venisons horn. This rising agent was originally extracted from these horns. As ingredient, it is still available in Norway but may be sustituted by baking soda. Whether you need the more or less baking soda, compared to Hjortetakksalt, is difficult to say.

Eggepulver. We may think that living on a farm that she would use only natural ingredients. The fact that my grandmother used eggpowder, surprised me. It might have been a new fashionable ingredient of the time, or an even older ingredients made to be stored for a longer time than fresh eggs - or maybe both? I have not seen eggpowder anywhere, and the question is, how many eggs to to use to replace the given amount of eggpowder.

She made her cakes in large quantities. Some of them were like biscuits, made to store in boxes, handy when neighbours and relations came to visit. But she also made fresh pastry in large amounts in order to feed a family of six and a maid. In order to try to make her recipes I will have to try to reduce the amounts of the different ingredients to get the correct result. This is both cooking as alchemy as well as chemistry. Interesting.

Here are a few recipes

Thebrød (Teabread)

Teabread is a recipe still in use in Norway, and it exists in many different varieties. The modern recipes describes that they are shaped into sticks, then baked in an oven on 180C (350F) until light yellow, then take them out, cut into thinner slices and dry them in the oven on a lower temperature. The fact that my grandmother describes that her cakes are shaped the same way, may confirm that her recipe is another variety of what is made today.

This recipe is ideal you have ended up with some sour milk, as this is the liquid you use in this recipe.

First my grandmothers original recipe:

Af 2 kg Hvedemel gjøres en meldam paa bordet i denne hældes en liter sur melk, 2 lod jortasalt, 1 mark farin, 1 mark smør, 1 pakke æggpulver, dette arbeides til en fast deig og sætter af paa pladen i lange stænger

Mix 2 kilos / 4,1 lbs of fine flour with 1 liter / 2,1 pts sour milk, then add 2 lod (30 grs /1 oz) Hjortetakksalt, 1 mark (233 grs / 1/2 lb) butter, 1 mark (233 grs /1/2 lb) caster sugar, one package of eggpowder, this is worked into a firm dough, and is put on the baking tray as long sticks.

To try this recipe I think you'll end up with a fenomenal amount of cakes, so to divide the amounts by two or four would be a good idea.

Here in Norway we get sour milk as a dairy product. If you cannot get a similar product where you live, wait until you have some sour milk left and try to make some. I do not know whether you get the same result with plain milk, but it is worth a try.

I would believe that Hjortetakksalt may be substituted with baking soda, but the quantity of this to the other ingredient may be a problem.

Then it is the eggpowder. We just have to try.......


This is a mystery recipe. As it is referred to in plural form, suggests that it is a kind of a cookie (småkake). She does not describe the way to make or shape the dough, so, we just have to try to figure out this in the baking process. That also means the heat of the oven.

These are made in a smaller quantity. That may mean that they made them for the occation, and that they would not be easy to store for a longer period. But thank God, she use real eggs!!

1/2 mark farin, 1/2 mark smør, 1 kg mel, 1 spiseske Hjortetaksalt, 1 pot sur melk, 3 æg, lidt mandeldraaber

1/2 mark (115 grs / 4 oz) caster sugar, 1/2 mark (115 gr/4 oz) butter, 1 kilo / 2 lbs flour, 1 teaspoon Hjortetaksalt, 1 pot (0,95 ltr / 2 pts) sour milk, 3 eggs, and some almon extract

This will be interesting - I have to go shopping........

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