Monday, December 31, 2012


Addendum, December 22, 2013
Since I first posted this nearly one year ago, it has become the most visited blog post, with 119 hits to date. The rate seems to have picked up recently, with the holiday season. I am curious to find out why. So, if you would be so kind as to leave a comment as to how you found this post, why you might have found it, and what you intend to do with the information herein, I would be truly appreciative. Happy Holidays!

Since September of 2009, I have been transcribing several notebooks filled with my dad's handwritten, biographical musings. About a year ago, I was typing up a short section where he reminisced about three traditional Swedish dishes from his childhood.

One of these — gryn— I had heard about. The other two — ost-kaka and greda-kaka — were unfamiliar. Out of curiosity, I contacted my Aunt Jean, the wife of my dad's younger brother Vincent, to see if she might have versions of recipes for making these desserts. She did, and sent them to me.

During my three-week break between fall and winter quarter, I decided I wanted to try to make at least one of these recipes. So today, I finally got around to making ost-kaka, or ostakaka as Aunt Jean entitled her recipe card.

The only ingredient that I had to go out of my way to acquire was rennet. I knew that it is used in cheese-making, and as luck would have it, there is a store that sells supplies for making beer and cheese right just up the street; I pass it every day on my way to and from campus.

In the course of making the recipe, I discovered that it was somewhat cryptic on one particular step. After mixing the rennet into the milk, it said "Let stand and drain off whey." First, how long should I let it stand? A Google search turned up this recipe which said about one hour. (This same recipe also included a specific temperature range for heating the milk. My aunt's recipe merely instructed "Heat the milk to lukewarm.")

All well and good. But then, it wasn't clear how I should go about draining the whey. I could tell that the milk had curdled — it was firmer and less liquid — but I couldn't see that the whey had separated out. It wasn't like gravy where the fat rises to the top and is easily poured off.

I gently stirred the curdled milk to break it up and see if that worked. I was then able to use a large spoon to gradually remove the whey into a separate bowl. My Google search also turned another recipe that suggested using a knife to cut the curds into squares to free up the whey.

Ultimately, I probably let the milk stand for nearly two hours and eventually ladled off more than 3 cups of whey (a significant amount considering I had started with half a gallon of milk).

So, without further ado, here is my revised recipe for Ostakaka.

1/2 gallon whole milk
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. liquid rennet
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup cold milk with flour; add the rennet. Heat the remaining milk to lukewarm (98–102° F). Mix the warm milk into the milk/flour mixture. Let stand for at least one hour. With a knife, cut the curds into squares; drain or spoon off whey.
Beat together eggs, cream and sugar; mix into milk mixture.
Pour into an 8" x 11" Pyrex baking dish. Bake at 350° for 1-1/2 hours or until knife comes out clean.
Top with lingonberry preserves and serve.

The result is a light, custard-like dish. By itself, it is relatively bland, somewhat sweet. The lingonberry topping definitely adds some flavor, and is slightly tart. Some other fruit preserve could be substituted with good results.


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