We’re fascinated by Nevada Berg’s cookbook, North Wild Kitchen (Prestel, $35). Originally from the United States, the author lives with her husband and son on a 17th century farm in a Norwegian mountain valley. She is far from the sophisticated food scene of Oslo.
Berg also writes a food blog called North Wild Kitchen (northwildkitchen.com). She has embraced her new home and Norwegian foodways with the passion of a convert. With chapters entitled The Forage, The Waters, The Summer Mountain Farm, The Hunt, and The Campfire, Berg opens the door on a food culture attuned to the seasons. Dish after dish suggests how satisfying a life closely linked to the land can be.
Now, we have to admit that we will probably never try making beer-battered spruce tips, wild nettle and honey cake, moose burgers with caramelized onions, or reindeer stew. And we don’t have the storage house to cure our own meats. But we’re glad to know that someone, somewhere is enjoying these dishes and practicing the traditional techniques for putting food by. Moreover, there’s much we plan to try in Berg’s repertoire—from simple fish cakes to hen soup with dumplings to a savory pear tart with blue cheese and walnuts.
Since this is the season, we decided to start with a dessert from The Harvest section of the book. Apple Cake, writes Berg, is “one of Norway’s most beloved apple desserts. … The sweetness of the sponge cake is complemented by the tanginess of the apples and you get just a hint of cinnamon and crunch from the brown sugar–almond topping.”
APPLE CAKE (EPELKAKE)
serves 8 to 10
2 cups (240 g) sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4cups (250 g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (150 g) lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for topping
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
3 to 4 tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup (33 g) sliced almonds
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next one, and beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the flour mixture and blend. Slowly add the milk and beat just until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the apple slices on top of the batter, arranging them in tightly overlapping concentric circles and gently pressing them into the batter.
Sprinkle with the almonds, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Arrange a couple dabs of butter on top and bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden brown with a few dark spots from the cinnamon. Cool slightly in the pan before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.