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Most of us have some special local cakes where our roots are. Many foreigners have wrinkled their noses over the Norwegian lutefisk, smalahove and rakefisk, but in Nord-Helgeland it is the cakes that makes the marker. What you get served with the coffee at a wedding, a christening or a confirmation is often decided by where in this tiny world the party is to be held. So if you come from another part of the world, there are new words to put in your vocabulary: Kamkaka, vannkrengla, krinalefsa and rengakaka, the last one made as a spiral. If you are curious and have the courage to try, you will find some of the recipes further down the page. Good luck! :)

Mo i Rana, tradisjoner, kaker

The website is also an excellent portal for the art of baking kamkaka.

Many people from the south are stunned by the northerners' habits of eating smoked salmon, cold cuts, eggs and anchovies on waffle cakes. All normalities, it is said, dictate that waffles should have jam, but on a proper party table here in the north, such outrageous waffles are placed first and foremost on the host's cake table. It's just like it should be! But we have to let the waffles lie. They are to much modern.

Just like tacos and pizzas, the local cakes also have a story that can tell why they are the way they are. It is allowed to assume that our local traditional cakes are like other cakes in the world, and have two important roots: Transport and climate.  

Out on the coast, people have had contact with Bergen since before the Viking Age. The trips south with stockfish or to talk to the authorities, meant that the travelers came into close contact with traders who had connections to Denmark and the Baltic Sea, and thus to wheat grain. What on Helgeland is called water pretzels is called Bergen pretzels in Western Norway, and it is claimed that the Nordland boats could have barrels full of pretzels with them home from a Bergen trip. But there were also those out on the coast who wanted to bake themselves, and central to the recipe is the white wheat flour. There is hardly an islander who does not bake pretzels for Christmas.

Mo i Rana, tradisjoner, kaker

Vannkringla is eaten with toppings or just butter, and has its local roots out on the coast

Inland in the fjords on Helgeland, it was more laborious to get a small wooden barrel of wheat flour, it was also expensive. In the long and deep valleys of Rana, spring often came late, and on the farms, barley diminated in the fields, a grain that gives poor rise to the pastry. The people in Rana therefore had to resort to other raw materials when preparing a party. The dough contains only 1/5 flour, is raised with baker's ammonia, and the aroma during baking can chase a visitor to the door. However, it was required that the party food had as festive a design as the priest's pretzels. The ranværings chose a twist in the design, and to this day puts his trust in the rengakaka. The most orthodox demand that it serve the coarsest type, without the use of wheat flour, but in any case, the puree cake should have toppings, sweet or preferably salty.

Mo i Rana, tradisjoner, kaker

Rengakaka is probably more as a slice of bread than a cake, but is a pleasure de luxe, along with good toppings

At Hemnesberget, which was a little further out in the fjord, and the not so far away, Korgen, which once was a central trading place, the supply of wheat was a little better than in the innermost part of the Ranfjord. Some of the farms along the river Røssåga, possibly had a slightly milder climate than under Svartisen glacier in Rana, and it allowed the farmer to sow some rye. Kamkaka is based on a mixture of rye and wheat, but it is the wheat flour that dominates. In Leirskardalen and in Brygfjelldalen, and the areas around Korgen and Bjerka, it is the unmistakable, airy and crispy kamkaka that is served. A delight for the palate with butter on, and a must for meat soup.

Mo i Rana, tradisjoner, kaker

The squares in the kamkaka are air pockets that form during baking in the oven. Get the butter, please!!

If you are looking for a topic for a real helgelands quarrel, then you should just throw out a statement about where the krinalefsa comes from. There is little disagreement that it originates from Helgeland, but all good helgelendingers will have this nice looking and year-round delicacy on their CV. Glued together with a filling of butter(!), Sugar and cinnamon, krinalefsa gets bones to walk on whether it's a children's birthday or the Saturday coffee at the retirement home.
Note: The krinalefsa is an artistry to bake! Just try!

Mo i Rana, tradisjoner, kaker

One of the region's traditional delicacies. Each farm had its own pattern on the lefsa.

Bake yourself?

Learning to make traditional food is something everyone should treat themselves to. Many gather in groups with one or two experienced, and the partisipants return home knowledgeable about rural history and baking. Recipes come in many varieties, and it is wise to search online and find the one that tempts you the most.

Below you will find tips & tricks and links to some recipes.

A good illustration video of baking kamkake

Baking of kamkaka seen from someone not born in the country

An American's instruction in "making the krinalefse from Norway"

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