gingerbread

[1Month2Wander] Stop 6: A Wintery Mix of Coast and Forest in Bergen by Amanda Liew

The Norway in a Nutshell fjords tour took me from Oslo to Bergen, so I stayed in Bergen for two nights. Let me tell you, this city is so insanely quaint. With the cute old-timey houses, wharfs, and cobblestone roads, there were certain parts of the city that reminded me so much of Northeast coastal towns like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Aside from the city itself, I was lucky to have met an awesome Australian couple on my tour the day before, Cameron and Felicity, and we decided to spend the day exploring together!

It was beyond chilly out, but we went up the funicular to Mount Floyen and surely had more fun than anybody else up there. Hilariously, at the information center we asked a guide what else there was to do at the top of Mount Floyen besides see the view of the city and he said “Oh there’s a lot! There’s a lot of hiking…and a lot of people hike…” Even though it had just snowed (or rather, because it had just snowed!), we decided to actually hike portions of it and ended up seeing such a magical wintery forest.

In fact, there were moments where the magic of the forest started making us see little Norwegian trolls…oh wait, that was real. Turns out the Norwegians are legit OBSESSED with trolls, and there are dozens of troll statues hidden throughout the land! We couldn’t stop laughing at how bizarre the little creatures were, and mightily impressed with how far the troll statues seemed to extend.

We also took the time to explore Bryggen which I feel obliged to mention is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but I’m also realizing that pretty much everything is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so that’s starting to lose some meaning to me. Be a little bit more exclusive, would you, UNESCO?! Keep the cool table for the cool kids! Of course, Bryggen would still totally make the cut for the cool kids table in my book, because it was secretly cool. If you walk past the front street, you initially think “Aw, what a cute little row of houses…I guess they’re just really well preserved!” and might be tempted to walk away after a few pictures. But wait! There are actually some unlabeled passages that lead to a labyrinth of overlapping shops, cafes, and museums. We weren’t planning on spending too much time in Bryggen, but kept getting sucked into one cool store after the other. There was even a three story Christmas store!

But really, America needs to take a pointer or ten from the way Europeans do Christmas. While we didn’t go to a Christmas market in Bergen (don’t worry, I’m still hitting the upper-teens in other cities!), we did go to a Gingerbread Exhibit. Based off of the sketchy building it was in, I had some pretty low expectations for what to expect, but dang, Bergen LOVES its gingerbread. A large section of the exhibit was a recreation of Bergen itself with scaled mountains and funicular trains. Other parts were random yet wildly fun like a Quidditch field, Death Star, and Frozen castles. What’s even sweeter is that many of the gingerbread houses are made by schools and students, so it’s really a community effort!

Also, my post on Bergen can’t go without a mention of Det Lille Kaffekompaniet, an incredible coffee shop my friend Kathryn recommended. It’s right by the funicular station, so we actually went for breakfast (latte + a slice of delicious carrot cake for me) and post-forest warm-up (mint mocha, my favorite!). As a note, the Norwegians seem to love to sleep in so it didn’t actually open until 10am – my type of people!

Yet another huge thank you to Kathryn for sending over such wonderful recommendations for Oslo, the fjords trip, and Bergen! Also a load of hugs over to my new friends Cameron and Felicity for sharing such a fun day with me and being hospitable enough to welcome me into their home (aka hotel room) to warm up, provide me with a cup-of-soup dinner (backpackers know how to save money!) and even lend me a nail clipper because the travel struggle has been too real. Forest explorations and troll discoveries were so much more fun with you two, and I can’t wait until our next travel reunion!

If you're planning your own trip...

Accommodations: 

  • I stayed at the Bergen YMCA Hostel & actually would not recommend it. Surprising, right? The facilities were decent, but the shower was just absolutely infuriating. It required you to press a button every 9 seconds to keep the water on. I get that they want to conserve water & save money, but at least give us 30 seconds! 

Transportation:

  • Bergen is extremely walkable & we didn't need to take any public transportation or cabs during our time there!
  • I took the Flybussen from central Bergen to the airport for about 90.0 Kr. I left very early in the morning & I think they run on a different express schedule at that point, so I actually had to run from my original stop to another stop to catch the bus. One of those things where I made it on the bus & never quite figured out what I did wrong or right! Besides that, an easy trip though. 

Food:

  • Det Lille Kaffekompaniet, the cafe, for delicious coffees & cakes!

 

[Stop #1: Baltimore, Maryland] Raspberry Buttermilk Scones & Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies by Amanda Liew

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The next month of my life is going to be filled with more travel, food, friends, and family than I can possibly imagine. While it will be impossible to blog while I'm abroad, I'll do my best to keep things in order. After having finally moved out of my house in Philadelphia, I zoomed off on a train for Stop #1 to visit my other best friend, Madeline, in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Madeline has an amazing history with baking and food photography. She was one of the Photography Editors for Penn Appetit which is the first university food magazine in the entire country. Last summer we lived together in New York where she held the coolest internship with a food photographer, and I'm so excited that we're both returning there full-time in July! Despite my pleas to make macarons (it's too humid apparently - pshh), we chose the next best thing and baked BOTH Raspberry Buttermilk Scones AND Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies. Food heaven right here. I was also so excited to finally add a post to my "Food" section since I only have is How to Cook a Traditional English Roast from my time abroad. We used recipes from queen bee, Martha Stewart, and I've included them at the bottom of this post!

The scones were amazingly fluffy, and the egg glaze on top perfected it. They weren't too sweet and the fresh raspberries added a perfect kick.

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The Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies, on the other hand, were decadent to the max. The brown sugar, butter, molasses, white chocolate chips, oh lordd they're delicious.

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Next up? Annapolis for Natalie & Huey's wedding! Couldn't be more excited!

Martha Stewart's Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones (substituted with raspberries)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) blueberries
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten for egg wash
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Stir in blueberries.
  3. Whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and the vanilla. Drizzle over flour mixture, and stir lightly with a fork until dough comes together but a small amount of flour remains in bowl.
  4. Turn out dough onto a work surface, and gently knead dough once or twice just to incorporate flour. Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 12 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 22 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool.

[Link here]

Martha Stewart's Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies

Yield: Makes about 48 dozen 2-inch squares

Ingredients

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  2. Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.
  3. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape.

[Link here]