May 17 (“Syttende Mai”) is Norwegian Independence Day. Until I searched the Internet for its significance, growing up, I had no idea what the story was behind this celebratory day. My Mor Mor (or “Momo” as I know her) adorned the formal dining table with her mother’s embroidered tablecloth, stumpy red candles, and the miniature replicas of the Norwegian flag. She’d serve her Norwegian meatballs with potatoes and dessert might have been some Sandbakkels or a cream cake topped with, what else, whipped cream and fresh berries. Before digging in, we’d merrily cheer “Skål!” (“Cheers” in English.)
But, back to why the Nordes observe this day. After the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte’s European empire, Sweden gained control of Norway in the treaty of Kiel. In response, Norwegians peacefully held elections to further liberate their nation, and on May 17, 1814 the Constitution of Norway was signed. Much like our own Fourth of July holiday, Norway continues to proudly celebrate this momentous occasion.
I’ve missed many Syttende Mai dinners with my family since moving away from Southern California 7 years ago. But, I wanted to relive the tradition by preparing a Norwegian/Scandinavian favorite. Initially, I had planned on baking the distinctly Norwegian potato flatbread “lefse” (forget lutefisk – dried cod soaked in lye), but this past weekend’s festivities of unlimited pinball and the conclusion of the Amgen Tour of California’s Stage 1 through downtown Sacramento left me with little time to spend in the kitchen.
But, I’ve got something special up my sleeve, something so simple to assemble. In fact, I get giddy thinking about it because it means that there is one less jar of Ikea lingonberry preserves on my cupboard shelf. It’s a tart with a lingonberry filling on top of a short bread-esque crust. Almond extract and lemon zest gets mixed in along with a couple of tablespoons of strawberry preserves to help cut through some of the lingonberry and lemon’s tartness. It’s a sliver of Scandinavian scrumptiousness. It might only be improved and made more authentic by adding ground almonds to the crust – akin to many Norwegian sweets such as the tiered almond ring cake Kransekake.
What crumbs are left on my plate will be graciously complimented with the one of the few Norwegian phrases I know – Tak ver maten, Amen.
(Thank you for the food, Amen.)
Lingonberry Preserve Tart
Adapted from Bon Appetit
The original version instructs that extra dough is used for an additional layer of pastry arranged in a lattice pattern on top of the tart. I think this is too much crust given the meager thickness of the jam filling, so I save the leftovers for other baking projects.
2 cups all purpose flour
4 ½ tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
14 tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp. or more cold water
1 ½ cups (about 14 ounces) Swedish lingonberry preserves from Ikea Food
2 tbsp. strawberry preserves
1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
¼ tsp. almond extract
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in food processor 5 seconds or whisk in large bowl if using pastry blender. Add butter, and blend until coarse meal forms. Add egg, egg yolk, and water. Blend until moist pea-sized clumps form, adding teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball, divide into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to a day.
Roll out larger dough onto floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Fold in overhang and press, forming double-thick sides.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir preserves, lemon peel, and almond extract in small bowl to blend. Spoon filling into crust in pan. Bake tart for 55 minutes or until crust is golden and filling bubbles thickly. Cool tart in pan and store at room temperature.