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Fattigmand Time

Christmas baking season has arrived again. I plan to make some different types of cookies, but then everyone does that. For something different, my husband and I always try to make one traditional Scandinavian food.

The food we make most years, from Norway, is fattigmand bakkelse. More of a fried bread than a cookie, these resemble the Mexican sopapilla we find in Colorado.

Norwegians love to have fattigmand for Christmas. My Norwegian grandfather, Bjarne Bentsen (1906-1986) insisted that his Finnish wife Martha Mattila (1906-1977) learn to make these treats when they first married. My husband remembers his Norwegian grandmother Anna Nelson Hjelmstad (1890-1976) making them, too, but his own mom, a German, never tried it.

My mother and father used to work together to make fattigmand every year. We kids needed to do our part to help, too. It takes a lot of rolling and cutting the stiff dough. Then someone deep fries each piece. Some folks dust them with powdered sugar, but we never did.

To be honest, I never liked fattigmand all that much as I grew up. I usually gave my share to my brother. But my husband liked fattigmand, so early in our marriage I made the effort at Christmas to make some. Now I find that I like to eat them as much as he does.

One of these days before Christmas we will invite our grandchildren over to learn how to make fattigmand, too. Here is our recipe, brought from Norway by my great-grandmother Sofie Bentsen (1878-1966):

Fattigmand Bakkelse

8 whole eggs + 4 egg yolks

12 level Tbsp. sugar

12 level Tbsp. sweet cream

4 Tbsp. brandy

½ tsp. baking powder

½ cup melted butter

1 rounded tsp. ground cardamom

1 level tsp. cinnamon

Mix in order given. Add enough flour (about 6 cups) to make a soft dough. Put in a cold place for 2-3 hours. Roll out very thin. Cut in diamond shapes, make a slit in center of each, and pull one end through slit. Fry in deep lard until golden brown. Use medium heat.



One Response to “Fattigmand Time”

  • Penni:


    I have been searching for someone that made bakkelse just like our family!!
    This is so exciting! The recipe I have is from my Norwegian grandmother and
    We hold an annual Bakkelsefest every December with family members bringing
    Along our premade dough, with our rolling pins cutter and deep fryers in hand!!
    We all gather at my grandmothers home which is still owned by my father and have
    A wonderful time !! The only difference is we do not add any baking powder. This is
    The first year we will be attending the Scandinavian Festival to demonstrate
    Our tradition….

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