Swedish Spelt Pepparkakor (Gingerbread Cookies)
This recipe for Swedish spelt pepperkakor first appeared on my previous blog, The Culinary Jumble. The recipe has been updated to include spelt flour and add new images.
Although making pepparkakor (gingerbread) is a national institution here in Sweden, where families gather together to make and decorate the cookies in the run up to Christmas, this is only second time I’ve ever made them.
Pepparkakor are very easy to make (even with your own icing rather than shop bought), and the longest part is leaving the dough in the fridge for a day or two before rolling it out.
This time around, I used my Swedish spelt pepparkakor to make different things. I made a pretty Christmas tree with star shaped gingerbread, thin, very traditional heart-shaped pepparkakor and thicker gingerbread cookies to decorate.
Traditional Swedish pepparkakor
Traditional pepparkakor is most often either round and heart-shaped. Of course, you will also find the usual shapes of gingerbread men and stars. This time, I used my heart-shaped cutter to create both the decorated and unadorned cookies (above).
I wanted to give an idea of how much the thickness, and overall appearance, can vary depending on how thick the dough is, and how long they spend in the oven. If you look at the picture above, you may think two different cutters were used, but they were the same. I like my pepparkakor Swedish style: thin, and super crunchy. However, for decorating, I opted for a thicker cookie. These were much softer, with just a hint of crispiness around the edges.
Why not make cookies of differing sizes and baking times and see which one you most prefer?
Simple pepparkakor Christmas tree
For the Christmas tree above, all you need is several star-shaped cutters of different sizes. When baked, just assemble them by stacking them up one on top of the other. It’s very festive and pretty. You don’t need to eat this one – it makes a great Christmas decoration.
When my kids were little, they used to love making gingerbread with their farmor (this is her recipe). They would make large hearts and frost their names on them. Some would be eaten and others would have a ribbon attached to hang them up as a decoration.
In the past, I’ve made my own royal icing to decorate the gingerbread with, but this time around, life is so much busier, and I couldn’t be bothered. I bought my icing and decorations. It doesn’t matter what you use; they look pretty and taste gorgeous, regardless.
You really can do pretty much anything with the dough. Next year, I think I might make my very own Gingerbread house. We’ll see.
If you like this recipe for Swedish spelt pepparkakor, check out my other festive recipes:
Swedish Spelt Pepparkakor (Gingerbread Cookies)
- 170g (¾ cup) sugar
- 100ml (⅖ cup) light syrup (see note 1)
- 100ml (⅖ cup) water
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon cardamom
- ½ tablespoon powdered cloves
- ½ tablespoon ginger
- 125g (½ cup) butter (chopped)
- ½ tablespoon bicarbonate (baking) soda
- 425-450g (3½ cups - 3¾ cups) spelt flour (see note 2)
- frosting / icing (see note 6)
- sprinkles (or whatever else you like)
Basic Gingerbread Dough (for approx. 60-70 cookies) - see note 3
- Add the sugar, syrup and water to a pan and heat the ingredients until they start to bubble. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a while.
- Mix the spices together and along with the butter, add to the pan. Stir gently until the butter has melted.
- Sift 425g (3½ cups) of the flour and baking soda together.
- Add to the wet ingredients, stirring until a fairly sticky dough forms. If you need more flour, just add a little at a time. The dough firms up when chilled, so don't add too much. The dough will be sticky, but you should be able to mould it together with your hands.
- Form into a rough ball, cover with clingfilm (or place in a plastic bag) and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
- When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400℃.
- Line one or two large baking trays with baking paper.
- Divide the dough into three or four bits (it's easier to work with the dough in smaller quantities) and liberally sprinkle your surface with flour. See underneath for how you can use the dough:
- You will need star cutters of various sizes (I had three different sizes).
- Roll out the dough to around ½ cm (just under ¼") thickness, and cut out as many stars as you need.
- Place on your baking tray(s).
- Bake for around 4-9 minutes, until golden brown. Please note: I baked separate batches with the different sizes (as it was easier this way). You can combine them on one baking tray, but you will need to watch them carefully, as the small ones will bake much faster - see note 5
- When cooled completely, assemble the larger ones first (staggered, with the stars' points at different angles), graduating to the smaller ones on top.
- When you're happy with your placement of the cookies, dab a little icing or chocolate on top of each cookie to keep them in place.
- Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar or decorate however you prefer.
Traditional Swedish Pepparkakor (very thin) - see note 4
- Roll out the dough as thin as you can get it (you may need to do this on baking paper).
- Using a medium sized heart-shaped cutter, cut out the cookies and place on the prepared baking tray.
- These will bake incredibly fast, so keep an eye on them (start checking at around four minutes) - see note 5
Thicker Pepparkakor (softer) - see note 4
- Roll the dough out to about ½ cm (just under ¼"). Use any cutter you like. Place on the prepared tray(s). Bake as long as needed - see note 5
- Decorate your cookies however you fancy and store them in an airtight container (please note: they will get softer over time).
- You can use any kind of light syrup. If you are in the UK, you could use golden syrup.
- You can use both regular and spelt flour in this recipe. Just use the same amount of ingredients for both.
- This is for a basic pepparkakor (gingerbread) dough. I've included ideas for what to do with it, but you can use it any way you like.
- I used the same heart-shaped cutter for both of my heart cookies. The reason why they look so different is because of their thickness and how long they were baked for.
- The baking times will vary depending on size and thickness. The usual baking time is anywhere from 4-9 minutes, so you will need to keep a very close eye on them (especially if they are small and/or thin). There is about 30 seconds difference between deep golden brown, crunchy cookies, and burnt ones. If you prefer your gingerbread softer, bake for less time.
- I haven't included a recipe for the icing, but you can find one for royal icing in my main post. Alternatively, you can buy some (or omit it altogether).