Home Decor

There's Gingerbread House, and There's Gingerbread Tower

December  4, 2017

Kransekake, a towering stack of cookie rings decorated whimsically with royal icing, comes to us from Denmark and Norway. Also known as tårnkake (tower cake) and kransekage (wreath cake), this wonder is traditionally made for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, and the winter holidays. The dough is made of just a few ingredients: almond flour, powdered sugar, and egg whites. I boost the flavor of my version with warm baking spices to give it a gingerbread-y flavor. You have to enlist the help of semolina flour to coat the molds, but if you opt for cornmeal instead, this dish is naturally gluten-free. The resulting cookies are crisp and much like the gingerbread used for houses; it holds up well for days and days, and won’t (noticeably) stale.

Despite its impressive appearance, the cookie dough base is incredibly easy to make and work with. It does require a specific mold, though I suppose it would be possible to freehand it if you have a lot of cookie bravery in your heart (I fully support you). I used these molds, which are only about $20 and store totally flat, so they don’t take up a lot of valuable kitchen shelf or drawer space. The beauty of the kransekake comes in the décor, which can be as fancy or as simple as you want. I like to decorate each layer with a different design, but you can just keep it simple with some drizzles or even skip every other layer if you want. As usual, the sky is the limit, and I’ll proudly proclaim I’m in love with this fun baking project. It's an edible piece of holiday decor that’s a lot of fun to make and put together.

Mixing the dough

The dough couldn’t be easier to mix. The dry ingredients are sifted until combined, then transferred to an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Then, egg whites are added (plus some vanilla and almond extracts, in my recipe) and the mixture is mixed for 1-2 minutes, or until a smooth dough forms. Seriously, it’s that easy. Once the dough is mixed, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill it for 1 1/2-2 hours to relax the dough and make it a bit firmer for shaping.

Preparing the Molds

Kransecake molds are easy to prepare; you just have to lightly grease them and line them with a coarse flour to prevent sticking. This makes them easier to stack later. I spray the molds with nonstick spray for an even coating, sprinkle generous amounts of semolina or cornmeal, and finally, tilt it around until the molds are well and evenly coated.

Make sure it's well and evenly coated. Photo by Ren Fuller

Shaping the dough

Divide the dough into six even pieces. Divide each of the six pieces into three more pieces, but not evenly. You’ll want to get one small, one medium, and one larger piece from each to match the concentric rings of the molds. Don’t worry about making it perfect, you can always “borrow” extra from other pieces later.

Look for this consistency, after it has chilled. Photo by Ren Fuller
But these can't. See: small, medium, large. Photo by Ren Fuller

Take each piece of dough and roll it out on a clean work surface into a rope about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. You shouldn’t need flour, but if the dough is sticking, dust your surface lightly with semolina or cornmeal. Place each rope into the prepared mold, following the circle indentations in the mold. Press the dough together firmly where the ends meet to seal. If there’s too much dough where they should meet up, pinch the excess off and save it to add to another piece if needed. Use the larger ropes for the outer rings on each mold, the medium rope for the middle ring, and the smallest rope for the center. Repeat until all the dough is used and all the molds are lined. You shouldn’t have any excess dough when you’re done.

Can you do it without the mold? Worth a shot (and will still be delicious). Photo by Ren Fuller


The cookies bake at a relatively high temperature to result in a crisp end product. I bake mine at 400° F. Transfer the molds to the oven (you can place a few molds together on a baking sheet if you like), and bake until the cookies are lightly golden and feel set, about 10-12 minutes. It’s normal for the inside cookies to look a smidge darker than the outer ones, but if you’re uneasy about it, they pop out of the molds easily once they’re set, so you can always remove the smallest ones while you wait for the larger ones to do their thing. Let the cookies cool completely inside the molds before assembling your tower.

Try not to eat before you assemble. Photo by Ren Fuller


To assemble the kransekake, you just stack the rings in order of size, using royal icing as the “glue” to hold them together.

Start with your serving platter, and place a few dots of royal icing all around the base. Place the largest ring on top and press firmly to adhere. Next, apply dots of royal icing on top of that ring, then place the next ring according to size; it gets smaller towards the top. Continue to do this until all the rings have been used. This is pretty simple and easy to execute, but if you have trouble, it may be a good idea to let the icing on the ring set before applying the next one. This takes 2–3 minutes.

It's edible holiday decor! Photo by Ren Fuller


You can decorate your kransekake however you want: with random, simple drizzles or with delicate piping. I like to use silver nonpareils for a little bit of extra dazzle, but really anything goes. I opt for simple piping that I freehand, but I like to change it on each layer. Sometimes I repeat one further up the tower, but I love the way lots of different finishes make it really pop!

Have you ever baked or eaten a kransekake? Tell us in the comments!

Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker
View Maker
Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker

Choose your holiday adventure! Our Automagic Menu Maker is here to help.

View Maker

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amy Jo Martinson Norwegian Kransekake and Lefse Colorado
    Amy Jo Martinson Norwegian Kransekake and Lefse Colorado
  • vk
  • Barbara Martinez
    Barbara Martinez
  • Joan
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!


Amy J. October 1, 2023
I’ve been making and selling Norwegian Kransekake out of my house since 2013. No cinnamon or pistachios are put in them, like Paul’s. Just basic recipe of Kransekake. I have a Facebook page and love making as well as helping anyone who has questions or needs help with them. I’ve made traditional 18 layer, a double high or 36 layer and even 54 layer high or triple high Kransekake for weddings and celebrations. If anyone has questions see my page at https://www.facebook.com/Norwegian.Kransekake.and.Lefse.Colorado?mibextid=LQQJ4d

Tusen Takk, Or Thank you in Norwegian! 🇳🇴 ❤️

Amy Jo Martinson, Fort Collins, CO
vk November 16, 2019
11/17/19: late to the party. This was my 3rd Kransekake attempt and was the best. I did do 1.75 all the seasonings. Here’s why: I had tried Paul Hollywood’s original recipe 1st. 2nd attempt I tried an orange cardamom version a takeoff of a lemon cardamom I found online. Problem with both, none of my family/friends liked it very much. Seemed their Midwest American taste buds just didn’t like it. So third attempt (and I was ready to give up) I tried this, but after tasting the dough decided to really punch it up. Added 3/4 again to all spices and vanilla and almond. All I can say is my husband asked for more. I think the other recipes are too subtle for what we’re used to here in Indiana. I‘ ll be serving this over the holidays. Thank you for this inspiration.
HLPRO November 15, 2019
Barbara M. September 2, 2019
I grew up in Minnesota and Kransekaka (the original recipe) was made by my Norwegian grandmother for special occasions, such as Christmas. My mother, who is now 91, has made many for family weddings. When my children were small, they proudly distributed pieces of the broken cake to guests at my brother's wedding. My mother will now be flying out to California (with a few family members) to make this cake for my eldest daughter's wedding next month. This will be a very special memory for all of us.
Joan May 15, 2019
This was my 1st Kransekake I ever attempted. It turned out great- easy to make and delicious! I will definitely make it again.😍🇳🇴
Corinne M. December 29, 2017
Bake extra rings. Decorate, break into pieces and surround the Kransekake with broken pieces to be enjoyed by your guests; thus, maintaining the original cake a bit longer. I made this as a wedding cake for my son's wedding several years ago . . . it accompanied a very expensive German made wedding cake. My cake was, however, the hit of the wedding. Everyone wanted the recipe. For that instance I made two full recipes, one broken into small pieces and the other as a cake.
Karolina B. December 21, 2017
Made a few of them as christmas gifts for friends!
Maren L. December 10, 2017
I really like your article!
But, as a Norwegian I would like to say, that the «gingerbread tower» part of your title was confusing and felt wrong. Seeing that there is no similarity with gingerbread.
Also, in my Family it is made every Christmas.
joan December 4, 2017
My Grandmother loved making Krasekake. She made the traditional almond layer. When my oldest sister married, she made it for their wedding cake, complete with marzipan decorations of fruit, flowers, and a mini marzipan bride and groom. Of course she froze the top layers to save...
Erin J. December 4, 2017
Love this! I love that this is a wedding treat - so lovely!
Veggielover December 7, 2017
This is my Aunt's specialty too...the traditional flavor :). Good memories, huh?She makes it for weddings and at X-mas. For X-mas she serves it with homemade rum raisin ice cream. Heavenly! I'm going to serve this version with Lingonberry whipped cream. It's on the menu!!! Love it!