Bakkels are the traditional Christmas pastry of Klövsjö, the Swedish mountain village where my grandmother was born. This is actually not her recipe, but the recipe of Mrs. Newstrom, also born in Klövsjö. (My mother thought that Mrs. Newstrom made the better bakkels, and thus preferred her recipe.) In Swedish, bakkel simply means pastry. I have never seen a recipe vaguely like this in a Swedish or Scandinavian cookbook. So I think they really are native to my grandmother’s tiny village.
1 pound of butter (no substitutes!)
6 ½ cups flour. Work together with your fingers for 15 minutes until the mixture is fine grained and not sticky.
Sift into mixture:
½ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt.
2 egg yolks slightly beaten (save the whites for the frosting)
1 ½ cup whipping cream
Roll ¼ to ½ inch thick. Cut into the shape of wreaths with a small donut cutter.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 425 with foil in the bottom of the oven. My mother suggests baking a sample first. If it spreads too much, add flour.
1 cup of sugar
The 2 reserved egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons water
Heat on the top of a double boiler until the water comes to a boil. Then beat on high speed for seven minutes. After frosting the bakkels, decorate them with red and green sugar. Use four pinches, alternating the colors. It will take several hours, or overnight, for the frosting to set.