Tis the season for holiday baking, and what better way to kick it off than by exploring the tradition of “Sju Sorters Kakor” – the Swedish practice of baking Seven Kinds of Cookies. Why seven? Let’s find out!
What is Sju Sorters Kakor?
Sju Sorters Kakor, or “7 kinds of cookies” in English, is a Swedish tradition of serving 7 different types of cookies at holidays, special occasions or while hosting guests. The number 7 comes from the idea that if a hostess served less than 7 types of cookies, she was being stingy, more than 7 and she was just showing off. Seven is lagom, not too much, not too little, but just right.
What Cookies Are Part of the Seven?
The types of cookies included in the selection may vary depending on personal preferences and regional traditions. Some of the most classic varieties, however, are peasant cakes (bondkakor), checkerboards (schackrutor), Finnish sticks (Finska pinnar), raspberry caves (hallongrottor), caramel slices (kolakakor), dreams (drömmar), chocolate slices (chokladsnittar) and various forms of shortbread cookies.
Taking on the challenge of baking seven types of cookies may sound like a major undertaking, but it can be easier than you think. Many of these cookies share a common base dough called ‘mördeg,’ similar to shortbread with its blend of flour, butter, and sugar, sometimes enriched with a touch of egg. This versatile dough provides a solid foundation, allowing you to make subtle tweaks that can alter both the flavor and appearance of your cookies.
Brief History of Sju Sorters Kakor
In the mid-1700s, the king of Sweden imposed a heavy tax on coffee, which the Swedes refused to pay. A decade later, coffee was officially banned, leading to a sort of black-market situation where locals secretly continued their coffee consumption, similar to bootlegging during prohibition in the US.
The restrictions on coffee were finally lifted in the 1820s, leading to a surge in coffee drinking in Sweden. And what goes really well with coffee? Baked goods of course! So, it became customary to serve a variety of cookies or pastries along with coffee to guests. Over the years, this tradition of serving seven different types of cookies when hosting guests for coffee or tea became more established and even made its way to Norway and to Scandinavian-American homes here in the US.
Sju Sorters Kakor, the Book
In 1945, after the wartime rationing of goods such as butter, flour and sugar was lifted, the desire to bake was revived. One of the local newspapers held a baking recipe contest and received over 10,000 entries! Over 200 of those were selected and compiled into the book Sju Sorters Kakor which was an immediate success. Even today, it’s considered a classic cookbook, and you’ll find it in many Swedish homes.
Here are 8 (I’m including a bonus recipe) of my favorite Swedish cookie recipes, perfect for Christmas, celebrations or a fika break!