Fattigmands – Poor Man’s Bread

As I mentioned in a previous post, most of my baking these days gets shipped to my grandparents who are isolated for Covid-19 and love getting mail (and treats!). My grandfather actually requested this recipe – Fattigmands Norwegian (otherwise known as Poor Man’s Bread or Cake) which he said his mother used to make for him. Craving a fried cookie your mom used to make in the midst of a pandemic? I can sympathize!

It just so happens that I have a recipe for Fattigmands from my great-grandma Torgie that my grandma put in a booklet of recipes she gave me when I graduated high school. A lot of them are from the “old days” and some are things she made for us when we were little – like Sloppy Joes or Neat Petes lol

I have never tasted Fattigmands before, so I’m not entirely sure what they should look like or taste like—although the internet leads me to believe that my recipe turned out alright. To me, they taste like a funnel cake bread-cookie (but less cloyingly sweet). What I absolutely love about them is how quickly I was able to make them even though they seemed complicated. No need to bring anything to room temp or dirty more than two bowls (one for mixing, one for frying). Even the frying part was fast and easy.

That’s my grandma’s handwriting at the bottom

Great-grandma’s recipe (above) calls for beating for 10 minutes, but I figured that meant 10 minutes by hand. I beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer for 5 minutes which seemed enough – the mixture should look thick and bright yellow. Also, you are reading this correctly – that says beat the eggs and salt together. Not the eggs and sugar as you might expect. I didn’t have any “rum flavoring,” so I mixed a 1/2 tsp of molasses with 1/2 tsp of water and added it for that dark-sugar flavor equivalent. Another change I made was adding 1/2 C more flour in than the recipe called for – the dough is supposed to look like a dough and not a batter, so use your best judgment. Then I kneaded it by hand on a floured surface for 7 minutes just as grandma instructs.

It was a workout, but well worth it. You have to keep adding a little flour throughout to keep the dough from sticking. I wasn’t sure what she meant by knead until the dough is “blistered,” but you can see in the photo how the dough isn’t perfectly smooth and has little tears in it.

I cut it in quarters as instructed which is wise because you need to roll out each quarter quite thin. You’ll need to put a lot of muscle into rolling each quarter out – the dough wants to spring back, but keep working at it until you get a nice, thin layer (almost see-through, but not quite). Cut it with a pizza cutter into diamond shapes. Cut slits in each one and pull one corner of the diamond through it to make little cute, parsel-like cookies. I wonder what this cookie shape signifies? If you know, please tell me! I love learning about the history of food.

Depending on size, fry them in batches of 4-6 in a couple inches of vegetable oil at 350 degrees until they are light golden brown. You may have to turn them to get an even color on both sides. Some of mine were darker than others, but they all tasted great, so don’t sweat it if some are brown-sugar brown. You can do this in a medium sauce pot easily. Let drain on paper towels to soak up extra oil.

Powder with sugar and taste! I am not sure how these will end up after they’ve been in the mail, but I will report back after they arrive. Different recipes on the internet have different ingredient ratios and flavorings, but this is as close to the version my great-grandma made, and it is delicious. A great recipe to make with children. Please let me know if you give it a try!

The Dziuk Family Fattigmands Norwegian (Poor Man’s Bread)

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C powdered sugar (plus more for garnish)

1 tsp rum flavoring (or diluted molasses)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 C flour

In stand-mixer, beat the eggs and salt together for 5 minutes until thickened and bright yellow. Add the other ingredients in and beat until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 7 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cut dough into quarters and roll out each quarter to a thin sheet (almost see-through but not quite). Cut sheet into diamond shapes. Cut slits into each diamond and pull one tip of diamond through each slit. Heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a medium pot to 350 degrees (use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temp). Fry prepared cookies 4-6 at a time until light golden brown. Let drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining dough. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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