Nadiya Hussain's Kransekake Biscuit Tower
This is a Scandinavian biscuit tower that is traditionally created for special celebrations and, boy, is it special, with its rings of chewy, sweet, almond biscuit dough, stacked one on top of the other. Specialist recipes often require specialist equipment, but I have found a way of making this without needing anything fancier than a round cake tin base, a knife and the ability to cut a freehand circle.
|For the biscuit dough:|
|500g||icing sugar, sifted|
|1 tsp||almond extract|
|oil, for greasing the tin|
|For the icing:|
|3 tbsp||water or lemon juice|
|400g||icing sugar, sifted|
|1 tbsp||black sesame seeds|
|chocolate-covered nuts, seeds and wrapped chocolates|
|sugared almonds and edible flowers (or other edible decorations)|
You will need: a 25cm springform tin and 3 baking trays.
Prep: 1 hour, plus chilling. Cook: 40 minutes.
Begin by toasting the ground almonds to really bring out their nutty flavour. Toast in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until golden. Leave to cool totally and then sift to remove any lumps. Add the icing sugar and stir until well combined.
Make a well in the centre, add the egg whites and almond extract and mix until you have a dough that comes together. If you find it’s a bit crumbly, add a few drops of water until it does. Roll the dough into a flat patty, wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Grease and line the base of a 25cm springform tin. Take the dough out and place in the tin. Using your hands or the base of a heavy tumbler, push the dough in until you have a smooth, even layer that covers the base right to the edges. Remove the side of the tin, then measure a rim, 1.5cm inwards from the outside of the circle, and score a circle. Do the same again, creating another ring and then another, and so on, until you have a small circle in the centre. You should have 7 rings and 1 circle.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Line three baking trays (or as many as you have) with some baking paper.
Take off the sides of the springform tin and gently lift away the outside ring of biscuit. Pop onto a tray. If the shape gets lost, you can just fix it or, if it breaks, just push it back together. Do this to all of the rings.
Bake for 10 minutes for the large rings, 6–8 minutes for the medium rings and 4–6 minutes for the small rings. They should be golden and will be very soft, so leave to cool on the trays for 5–10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Do this until you have baked them all.
Make the icing by adding the lemon juice or water to the icing sugar in a bowl and mixing with the egg whites. This is the type of icing that will set hard and not run everywhere – perfect for piping. Pop the icing into a piping bag, snip off a small opening and, starting with the biggest ring, pipe back and forth across the width of the ring, going all the way around. Sprinkle with the black sesame seeds as quickly as possible before the icing starts to dry. Repeat for the other rings.
It’s time to stack. Take the largest ring and pipe icing on the serving board or dish so you can ‘glue’ the ring in place. Pop the next ring on top, using a few drops of icing to glue it, and keep doing this until you’ve done about three rings. Now fill the hollow in the middle with some of your chocolate-covered nuts or sweets. Add a few more rings, and again fill the middle with nuts or sweets. This cake is not traditionally filled, but I like the idea that the otherwise empty cavity is a receptacle for even more sweet delights.
Once you get to the top, secure the last piece with icing. I like to decorate with edible flowers, sugared almonds or other edible decorations, whatever the occasion calls for.