Scandinavian cuisine is hot -- from Denmark's Noma being named the world's best restaurant, to devoted fans of the TV show "New Scandinavian Cooking," to CNN naming Nordic cuisine among the 10 food trends of 2011.
Add exquisite timing to Pat Sinclair's list of skills. Her latest cookbook, "Scandinavian Classic Baking" (Pelican, $16.95), collects more than 40 recipes that are the foundation of baking traditions in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. That Sinclair is neither Scandinavian, nor a native Minnesotan, proved the motivating factor 30 years ago when, as a newcomer, she helped make lefse and krumkake for a church fundraiser. She vowed to learn more.
Her recipe for Norwegian Lefse demonstrates the path she's worn writing for Scandi-newbies as well as old hands, describing how to move the lefse from rolling pin to griddle "using a large inset spatula or lefse stick." Traditionalists get to say "duh," while novices learn which utensil works best. Even the most involved recipe, for Mini Princess Cakes, seems approachable, and the result, darling.
Sinclair, a food consultant and recipe developer in Edina, groups recipes by coffee breads, cakes, cookies, tarts and fruit desserts, and traditional favorites. Each recipe includes a sidebar that may be about using yeast, how to fold in egg whites, or that the 10-mile Oresund Bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark is the longest cable-supported span in the world. Minnesota photographer Joel Butkowski contributes gorgeous color photos for each recipe.