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Piparkakut - The Best Gingerbread Recipe Ever

Updated on December 3, 2013

Recipe for My Mom's Finnish Gingerbread (Piparkakut)

For me Christmas would not be Christmas without baking and eating Gingerbread cookies. The gingerbread cookies that I like are not just any gingerbread cookies. They are made with my Mom's special recipe for Piparkakut or Finnish Gingerbread.

We've had them for as long as I can remember and Mom's always made a Gingerbread House with her cookie recipe.

In looking at different gingerbread recipes, I've discovered that many use ginger, cinnamon and cloves, but what is different with the Finnish recipe is the addition of cardamom, a spice with a unique distinctive taste.

Discover the best gingerbread recipe ever for Piparkakut and some of the things you can do with this Finnish Gingerbread.

Image of Freshly Baked Gingerbread (Nybakade pepparkakor) by Jonik used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

'Gingerbread' in Different Languages:

Norwegian - Pepperkaker

Swedish - Pepparkakor

Danish - Brunkager

Icelandic - Piparkokur

Finnish - Piparkakut

Latvain - Piparkukas

Estonian - Piparkoogid

— Wikipedia

Scandinavian Gingerbread from Wikipedia

The Wikipedia entry for Gingerbread doesn't mention Finnish Gingerbread or piparkakut:

  • In Scandinavia, the most popular form of ginger confection are the Pepperkaker/Peparkakor (Norwegian), or Pepparkakor (Swedish). They are thin, very brittle biscuits that are particularly associated with the extended Christmas period.
  • In Norway and Sweden pepperkaker/pepparkakor is also used as window decorations, the pepperkaker/pepparkakor is then a little thicker than usual and decorated with glaze and candy. Many families bake pepperkaker/pepparkakor as a tradition with their kids.
  • In English pepperkaker/pepparkakor would be referred to as ginger biscuits rather than gingerbread.

read the rest of the Wikipedia article

Baked Finnish Gingerbread Cookies

Image by sirikri
Image by sirikri

Freshly baked Christmas cookies by sirikri.

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Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Finnish Gingerbread Spices

The biggest difference between traditional gingerbread recipes and the Finnish gingerbread version is the spices used.

The Nordic Recipe Archive recommends using cinnamon, ginger, cloves and orange peel recipe for Finnish gingerbread spices.

They recommend using this mixture to flavor Finnish gingerbread, apple pies, breads, cakes, fruit and berry desserts and beverages.

For the Finnish Gingerbread Spices recipe, I've kept all of their ingredients, but added in the secret ingredient from my Mom's recipe, ground cardamom:

Finnish Gingerbread Spices

  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamon
  • 2 tsp dried, ground Seville orange peel
  • Mix indigents together.
  • Put into a small jar.
  • Shake until mixed.
  • Store in a cool, dry place.
Recipe modified from Gingerbread Spice. Nordic Recipe Archive.

Image by Jonki
Image by Jonki

This is my Mom's Finnish Gingerbread Recipe for Piparkakut.

If you need a double recipe (enough dough to make a decent gingerbread house) check the recipe on the Finnish Gingerbread Houses lens.

Gingerbread cookies (Nybakade pepparkakor) by Jonik.

  • Cook time: 45 min
  • Ready in: 45 min
  • Yields: 7-8 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 7 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons ginger
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 4 teaspoons grated orange rind

Instructions

  1. Sift Together: the dry ingredients: flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, soda, salt and cardamon.
  2. Cream well: the margarine with the sugar.
  3. Blend in: Eggs with the molasses and orange rind.
  4. Stir in/Mix Together: The dry ingredients with the other ingredients, gradually until the recipe is well-blended.
  5. Chill: Refrigerate overnight (Dough can keep up to 1 week)
  6. Roll out:1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes.
  7. Transfer to tray and Bake: 375 F° for 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  8. Yield: 7-8 dozen cookies (depending on the size of the cookie cutters)
2.5 stars from 6 ratings of Finnish Gingerbread (Piparkakut) Recipe

Baking Finnish Gingerbread Cookies - YouTube

Micke89's video on baking gingerbread from Christmas 2006.

Image by Gill Rick
Image by Gill Rick

Mixing the Gingerbread Dough

Mixing up gingerbread can be made easier if you separate out the ingredients.

Sift the flour with the spices in one bowl before starting, so it is ready to go.

Cream the margarine and sugar together, then add in the egg, molasses and orange rind.

Finally gradually start blending in the flour and spice mixture, until the dough is all mixed together.

Remember to refrigerate overnight.

Image of Gingerbread Cookie dough by Gill Rick.

Rolling out Gingerbread Dough

Image by tecknare
Image by tecknare

Rolling out the Gingerbread by tecknare

Professional Wooden Rolling Pin

Thunder Group 18 Inch Wooden Rolling Pin
Thunder Group 18 Inch Wooden Rolling Pin

This unfinished professional rolling pin becomes nonstick as flour fills in grain. The smaller size makes it easier to store.

Measures: 9-3/4 inches x 2-1/2 inches

 

Rolling out and Cutting the Dough

Another difference with Finnish gingerbread cookies is that they tend to be thinner than many of the American versions and they used different cookie cutters than the traditional gingerbread men.

When rolling out the refrigerated cookie dough, be sure to roll it to a thickness of 1/8 - 1/4 thick.

To make Finnish gingerbread, use hearts, stars, reindeer and pigs. yes pigs. For some reason pig gingerbread cookies are very popular.

IKEA Cookie Cutters available on Amazon.

Gingerbread and Pig Cookie Cutters

The cookie cutters we used at my Mom's weren't the typical gingerbread men. We'd make hearts, stars, reindeer and pigs.

Foose Pig Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5 in US Tin Plate Steel B731
Foose Pig Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5 in US Tin Plate Steel B731

This is very close to the pig that my mom uses to bake her Gingerbread cookies.

3 inch Tinplated Steel

 
Ikea's NEW SNÖKUL Christmas Pastry cutter, set of 6, stainless steel
Ikea's NEW SNÖKUL Christmas Pastry cutter, set of 6, stainless steel

A new version of cookies cutters from IKEA.

These let you make a 3D tree, star or reindeer from cookies.

 

Making Gingerbread (Pepperkake)

Image by Sunrise
Image by Sunrise

Baking Norwegian Pepperkake Sunrise

Transferring Cookies

Since Finnish gingerbread cookies tend to be thinner than other versions. The cookies are cut from dough rolled to a thickness of 1/8 - 1/4 inches.

Thinner cookies may be a bit trickier to transfer the cookies over to the cookie sheet for baking.

Using a bendable or angled spatula is a helpful way to transfer the cookies once they have been cut to a baking sheet, and then also once they have been baked to a cooling rack for cooling.

Image of Heart Gingerbread by Sunrise.

Cut Cookies Ready to Bake

Image by Superfantastic
Image by Superfantastic

Ready to bake by Superfantastic

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Decorating Finnish Gingerbread Cookies

Many times Finnish Gingerbread is eaten plain, without any decorations.

When the piparkakut cookies are decorated, as in the Gingerbread houses, the decorating is done with a small amount of white icing using a simple royal icing recipe.

For the gingerbread house or decorated cookies, other decorations are added, in our house it was often M&M's, peppermint and sugar sprinkles, instead of gum drops and other candies.

Professional Icing Bag Set

Farberware Professional 5-Piece Icing Bag Set
Farberware Professional 5-Piece Icing Bag Set

Farberware's Professional 5-Piece Icing Bag Set includes a durable reusable pastry bag and metal decorating tips for your cookie icing needs.

 

Serving Gingerbread Cookies

Image by hhsara
Image by hhsara

Piparakakut is often consumed plain and served with a strong Finnish Coffee.

Christmas Cookies by hhsara.

Serve Your Gingerbread Cookies on an Iittala Plate

Iittala Taika Dinner Plate, White, 11-3/4-Inch
Iittala Taika Dinner Plate, White, 11-3/4-Inch

A classic Finnish design, Taika, for serving your holiday cookies.

 

Piparkakut in a Tin

Image by nixielinks
Image by nixielinks

Heart Gingerbread by nixielinks.

Image by Edgar Zuniga
Image by Edgar Zuniga

Turn Your Gingerbread into Ornaments

You can do more than just eat Gingerbread, you can also turn gingerbread cookies into decorations.

Cookie ornaments cut out of wreaths, hearts or stars make for good tree decorations.

For the hearts and stars you will need to cut a small hole to put the ribbon through. Use a cleaned marking pen cap to easily cut out a circle.

Make sure that the cookies are sufficiently baked, so they are not soft, which will make the ornaments harder to hang on the tree. Before hanging tie a decorative ribbon on the gingerbread ornament.

If you want them to be edible, you may want to put them on the tree shortly before the will be eaten (or cover with plastic wrap).

Heart Ornaments on Tanenbaum by Edgar Zuniga.

Make a Gingerbread House

Another fun activity to do with the kids (or grandkids) is to make a decorated house out of gingerbread.

There are all kinds of patterns available on the Internet that can be downloaded and used, or you can design your own after looking at different types and styles of gingerbread houses.

All kinds of tips and ideas for starting your own tradition and building a special gingerbread house can be found at the Finnish Gingerbread Houses lens.

Image of Small Red Gingerbread Hut by mwri.

Image by Sleepyneko
Image by Sleepyneko

Gingerbread Flavored Oatmeal

One way that I've found to satisfy my gingerbread cravings in a healthier way is by putting gingerbread ingredients to top a bowl of steel cut oatmeal.

To a good serving of oatmeal I add:

  • Dark Molasses
  • Cinnamon
  • All Spice
  • Sliced Almonds
(Note: The picture doesn't quite have my ingredients. They are using walnuts and maple syrup instead.)

The dark molasses is one of the healthier sugar sources. The All Spice is easier to come by and less expensive than the Cardamom. You could add ginger as well, but I've found that these three spices tend to be the ones I like best from the gingerbread spices.

Give it a try. It's a very healthy treat.

Steel Cut Oatmeal Image by Sleepyneko

Anna's Ginger Thins

Anna's Ginger Thins based on a Swedish Gingerbread recipe is the closest thing that I've found to the Finnish Gingerbread cookies, although they don't use cardamom.

They'll do in a pinch when I don't have time to bake Piparkakut or steel cut oatmeal and am craving gingerbread.


Anna's Ginger Thins Swedish Cookies 5.25 Oz (Pack of 12)
Anna's Ginger Thins Swedish Cookies 5.25 Oz (Pack of 12)

The Original recipe from Swedish grandmother Anna Karlson in 1929. Spiced using Ginger, Cinnamon and Cloves.

 

Enjoy Your Gingerbread

Image by Matty Turner
Image by Matty Turner

Get some before it's gone. The Gingerbread won't last long.

Gingerbread by Matty Turner.

History of the Best Gingerbread Recipe Lens

Will you be adding gingerbread cookies to your list of Christmas baking?

Comments on the Best Gingerbread Recipe Lens

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    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @knitstricken: Thank you for the Angel Blessing. Hope you get a chance to try the gingerbread recipe.

    • knitstricken profile image

      knitstricken 4 years ago

      Hee hee! Turns out I've been here before and Liked you! So how about an Angel Blessing? I think it's warranted! :o)

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @GrowthSpark: This is my favorite gingerbread recipe. I think it is the cardamon.

    • GrowthSpark profile image

      GrowthSpark 4 years ago

      I'm a huge fan of anything ginger so will definitely give these a go as they look delicious. Happy Holiday to you and yours :)

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @LisaDH: Do try it. It is my absolute favorite gingerbread recipe. I used the spice combination on oatmeal with molasses to get a similar taste.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 4 years ago

      I must confess that I make my gingerbread cookies from a box, but I'm tempted to try this recipe. I love cardamon and I'm imagining how good gingerbread might taste with this little extra ingredient. :-)

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 5 years ago

      I've had Anna's Ginger Thins. They are good. Your version of gingerbread cookies sounds yummy. I'll have to give that cardamom a try.

    • profile image

      Godsgraciousgift 5 years ago

      Those cookies look yummy.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      This looks like a good cookie. (bread????) A big recipe too. Good for a family.

    • OraraValleyCakes profile image

      OraraValleyCakes 5 years ago

      I bake it every year, but I've never heard of the finnish version. Will definitely be giving it a go this Christmas as cardamom is my all time favourite spice! Thanks!

    • OraraValleyCakes profile image

      OraraValleyCakes 5 years ago

      I bake it every year, but I've never heard of the finnish version. Will definitely be giving it a go this Christmas as cardamom is my all time favourite spice! Thanks!