I’ve previously covered Fastelavn, the Norwegian word for Shrovetide, or better known as Fat Tuesday, and how we celebrate it, which you can access here. This day is celebrated all over Scandinavia and has been an event since the 16th century; and is synonymous with one thing: Fastelavensboller, translated as sweet cardamom buns filled with vanilla whipped cream and jam, made from either strawberries or raspberries. In Sweden, they have similar buns, called “semlor” or “semla” (singular) , where they stuff the buns with marzipan and cream. The Danes take this day perhaps the most serious of all Scandinavians, organizing party games for both children and grown ups, dress up, sing and fill the table with all kinds of goodies.
In addition to the delicious fastelavensboller, this day also includes the widespread tradition of the birch twigs, fastelavnsris. Even before Norway became a Christian country, there existed superstition around the birch twigs. The belief was, that birch twigs that still had not grown leaves, had the power of fertility in them. Farm fields, cows and humans were “spanked” (ris in Norwegian) with the twigs to ensure a fertile year. Young girls and childless people especially were treated to the spanking. . When a young man met a young woman on the road, he gently spanked her with the birch twigs. It was also common for couples to spank each other, and it was children’s right to spank the grown ups in the morning. The price for the spanking was always a cardamom bun – and here comes the tradition of “fastelavensboller”. People will decorate their houses with colorful birch twigs around this time.
As you can read about Fastelavn in my previous blog post I won’t repeat more of this information again, but I was, however, particularly excited to develop a dairy free recipe (these cardamom buns do not require eggs either). The toughest part seemed to re-create whipped cream, but was delighted to discover that all you need is some coconut cream, whip that up along with some vanilla extract or vanilla sugar (the more vanilla will cover up the coconut flavor of the whipped cream in case you don’t care for this flavor).
The more I bake without dairy, the more I wonder why I ever included this ingredient, as I seem to be able to create better recipes without it, and at the same time eliminate all the bad health effects of dairy. This recipe turned out just the way I envisioned it: light, fluffy and packed with incredible flavor. the coconut cream will be denser than dairy cream but in return, packs a ton more flavor. I can’t think of many other dishes that are more delicious. I hope you can limit yourself to eating just one of these- it was definitely a challenge for me!
Makes 8 buns
550 grams or about 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
100 grams or 1/2 cup sugar
50 grams (2 oz) fresh yeast or 1 pack dry yeast
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup almond milk or soy milk
100 grams or roughly one stick of vegan butter (margarine)
almond milk or water for brushing buns
1 can chilled coconut cream
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Strawberry jam or jam of your choice, or 1 cup freshly sliced strawberries mixed with 1/2 cup sugar and the juice of 1/2 lemon
To make the buns:
Heat up the almond milk and butter until about 82F (27 degrees celcius). crumble in the fresh yeast in a stand mixer bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients with 3/4 of the all purpose flour. In a stand mixer, slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid, and add in the last of the flour and mix for about 10-15 minutes until you have a smooth dough and the dough releases from the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in size, 1-2 hours.
Remove dough from bowl and knead it a little bit on a working surface, and divide into eight equal parts. Roll them into nicely shaped round buns and place on a sheet tray sprayed with Pam. Cover with a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 420 Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celcius).
Brush the buns with a little almond milk or water, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden on top. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
To make the whipped coconut cream:
Open the can of coconut cream without shaking it (you can chill the can overnight in the fridge). You want to scoop out the top layer of the thick cream in the can, this is what you will whip. You will have about 1/2 cup of clear liquid left in the can – save this for other recipes where you want some coconut flavor – it also makes a great coconut syrup! Whisk the coconut cream with the vanilla sugar/extract and confectioners sugar until firm, thick and fluffy.
Divide the buns in half and fill them with a big dollop of whipped coconut cream and spoon over a little strawberry jam or macerated fresh strawberries. Dig in and enjoy!! (I omitted the confectioner’s sugar topping on mine because I think these are sweet enough)
The beet is an old cultural plant that has been grown in Europe for over three thousand years but likely arrived in Scandinavia in the 15th of 16th century. Both the red beet and sugar beet stem from the beach beet, which grows wild along coastal Europe. Beets can be round, oval or cylindrical, but more commonly seen is the round shaped beet. Beets come in red, yellow or orange colors - my favorite dish is to make a colorful salad which include all the different types roasted, toss them with some good olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, drizzle a little good quality red wine vinegar over them and sprinkle with some fresh dill. Norway on a plate!
Beets are used in a variety of dishes in the Nordic countries, as it is a traditional root vegetable with a long history in the Nordic kitchen. Beets are served both warm and cold, the latter regularly in salads, and then there is of course red beet soup; borscht. Cooked, chopped beets are often added to ground meat, boiled beets are served with new potatoes with a dab of butter, and perhaps the best known way to serve these are pickled; either as a condiment to fish or as a topping on open faced sandwiches. I’ve also seen them pureed with butter and whipped into a cream, and with their bright red color, this not only tastes great but adds beautiful color to your plate. Besides beets being incredibly versatile and healthy with their low fat, high calcium, fiber and iron content, they are also amazingly tasty if you know how to prepare them to maximize their sweetness and underlying earthiness.
Beets are in season from May to November, when they are smaller in size and nice and tender, but they will keep well through the winter, which is why they are so popular in Norway. Regardless of the time of year, avoid selecting the very large beets, as they may not be as sweet and sometimes have a woody center. The leaves on the beet stalks are also very nutritious, and can be chopped up and sauteed with some olive oil and garlic for a delectable side dish. Don’t throw these out!
Since I no longer include meat or fish in my diet, I wanted to create a dish that would taste “meaty” without the meat, and much better! I have seen beet burgers on menus in restaurants before, but more often than not, the beets are boiled, then pureed and mixed with whatever other ingredients and fried on the flat top, much like any other burger. The result is generally a mushy mess in the center with an undesirable texture, reminiscent of baby food. The way I decided to do mine, is shred the beets while raw into thin pieces, then saute them on the pan, almost similar to hash browns. The result is a crispy exterior with a firm texture that better replicates the meat version. Simply perfection! When I had my catering company, Fork and Glass, we would make these and sell them in to- go containers at local farmer markets, and we could never make enough of these to serve everyone!
I love using a mixture of golden and red beets in the burgers for both taste and presentation.
I dare you to serve these to your meat eating friends or someone who has exclaimed before how much he/she hates beets – and see if they won’t change their mind next time they think of burgers!!
ARCTIC BEET BURGERS
2 cups raw red beet, grated
2 cups raw golden beet, grated
about 1 1/2 cups-2 cups oatmeal
2 tbsp flax seed mixed in 6 tablespoons of water
about 1/2 cup-1 cup sweet rice flour (you can use AP flour if you prefer)
3-4 large shallots, o4 1 large Vidalia Onion, sliced and sauteed/caramelized until soft and golden brown
5-6 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp canola or olive oil, for sauteing
Place the grated beet in a bowl, season with salt and squeeze out any moisture. Add the rest of the ingredients, season generously with salt and pepper, and let rest in fridge for about 1 hour.
Prepare a couple of sheet trays lined with paper towels. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the beet mixture and shape into a flat cake with your hands. Place them on a separate tray. Heat the oil in a skillet (I love using cast iron skillets) over medium heat and fry the cakes until golden brown on both sides.
Transfer the beets to sheet trays lined with parchment paper or paper towels until you finish the entire batter.
Besides serving them in the traditional burger bun, these are delicious accompanied with a grain salad or a green salad – topped with vegan dilled sour cream or a horseradish sauce. You can make these cakes the day before and reheat them in the oven. Who needs meat??
For Valentine’s Day I thought it appropriate to post about one of Norway’s more popular and well known foods: our beloved heart shaped waffles. Soft and sweet, these are not eaten for breakfast, but rather as an afternoon treat or served with coffee at night (0r any time of day) when guests come over. There is something magical about these waffles; they don’t fill you up quite the way Belgian or American waffles do, they are more dainty and elegant, as if they belong at a proper English high tea. Simultaneously, they are incredibly casual and inviting; I guess you could say they are just irresistible all around, and everyone I’ve served these to have been ooh’ing and aah’ing and conversations have been known to go on forever about these creations. You see the waffles served everywhere in Norway; at cafes, bazaars, on the ferry crossing the fjord from one town to another, and if you ever visit a famous Norwegian “seaman’s church” outside of Norway you will see them offered for free with a cup of coffee, as a way to comfort Norwegians abroad by providing a familiar and typical flavor.
I’ve posted about our waffle traditions in more detail before, and you can access that post here.
Since I’ve changed lifestyles in 2014, I wanted to post a recipe that omitted dairy and eggs in the waffles, and I’m happy to report that you won’t miss this at all in this batter. I’m always amazed at how fluffy and light batters are when not including eggs, and the additional benefit is that by omitting diary and eggs is that you greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease ,diabetes, cancer and heightened cholesterol.
Try this incredibly easy recipe that is packed with flavor – I love the addition of cinnamon and cardamom to the batter. To bake these you’ll need a special heart shaped waffle iron – luckily these are easy to come by and you can buy one on Amazon for instance, although it may be difficult to come across an old school one like the one I have:
Don’t despair – your waffles will taste just as good in a more modern iron! I love dabbing some coconut oil or butter on top of them if I don’t have any jam… sooo delicious and sure to please your Valentine! Hope you all enjoy the day and feed your loved one something special tonight… how about these Norwegian hearts???
HEART SHAPED WAFFLES
1 1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup rape seed oil or vegetable oil (not olive oil)*
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Combine everything in a bowl and let rest for 1/2 hour before baking according to your waffle iron’s instructions.
Serve warm right away topped with butter, jam, plant based cheeses or cheese of your choice or my favorite: (vegan) sour cream and strawberry jam!
*If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has experienced a surge in popularity since around 2008. Although technically the same as canola oil, what you see in stores today sold as canola oil has been tampered with and blended with other kot so great oils, somtry to purchase true rapeseed oil from a health food store. Rapeseed oil Is produced from the bright yellow rape plant that grows freely in Norway. Best cold -pressed, the oil can then be used drizzled as salad dressing, or heated to fry or bake. It’s low in saturated fat, so has been hailed for its health benefits and also has other nutritional bonuses – it contains omegas 3, 6 and 9, which reduce cholesterol and help to maintain healthy joint, brain and heart functions. As it is high in mono-unsaturated fats, it is one of the only unblended oils that can be heated to a high frying temperature and not spoil its antioxidants, character, color or flavor. Homegrown rapeseed oil has been heralded the ‘Norwegian olive oil’ but its flavor is more earthy and nutty than fruity.
Chocolate cake is the most baked cake in Norway. The reason might be that it’s easy to put together, using ingredients everyone most likely have in their cabinet already. Recipes vary, and there are countless versions with different fillings or ingredients, like chopped chocolate, nuts, jam etc. Some choose to glaze their cake, while others just keep it simple and eat it plain, almost like a mix between a cake and a cookie. A lot of times Norwegians choose to bake their cake in a 13X9 inch pan, called a “langpanne” in Norwegian – and the cake is cut into squares, and sometimes topped with a chocolate glaze and coconut flakes (one of my favorites!). This is also easier when baking for kids, as it’s easier to hold on to and less messy.
Regardless of what recipe you choose to do, it is hard to go wrong when deciding to serve a chocolate cake to your guests. Most everyone I know, light up when they see chocolate, and the dark chocolate in this cake also has some health benefits (ok, that’s a long stretch, I know – but who needs excuses to sink your teeth into this one??)
What makes this cake just a tad more delicious than the average chocolate cake, is the addition of the typical Norwegian vanilla sugar; a vanilla flavored, powdery confectioners sugar that just makes all baked goods so much tastier than when using the more artificially tasting vanilla extract. The second ingredient in this cake is the slight touch of cinnamon which I think go really well with the dark chocolate. If you are not crazy about cinnamon (like us Norwegians), you can of course choose to leave this out of your batter.
I personally find that the glaze is what completes the cake, and while it doesn’t have to be super decadent, it has to be smooth and at the right consistency. This one is incredibly easy to work with. Play around with different versions – and try my vegan version below that produces a rich, juicy cake, you will be amazed that the recipe does not contain any dairy or eggs!
JUICY CHOCOLATE CAKE
2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons freshly brewed, strong, black coffee
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 stick vegan butter (about 100 grams)
2 tbsp freshly brewed, black , strong coffee
1 tbsp soy milk (optional)
about 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a springform or 13 x 9 inch baking pan with a little oil and coat with a little flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Combine well and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the coffee, brown sugar, water and oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk quickly until a smooth batter forms. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in middle of oven for 25-30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clear.
Cool the cake on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter.
Add in the optional soy milk if needed, and whisk in the confectioners sugar until a smooth glaze forms. Spread the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the chilled cake.
Keep chilled or in a cool spot until ready to serve.
Optional: You can divide the cake in two and double the glaze recipe and add in chocolate creme in the middle too for an extra, decadent cake!
Had to reblog this beautiful post by Experience North Cape, in honor of the National Sami Day which is celebrated today, February 6th. The Sami people are our indigenous people who live across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and they have their own language and music genre (the joik). These two videos showcase how beautiful it can sound!
Originally posted on experiencenorthcape:
Today, the Sami People celebrate their national day. To honor their heritage and culture, I thought I’d share a couple of beautiful joiks sung by a Swedish/Sami artist, Sofia Jannok. For those of you who have never heard this music genre, you are in for a treat!
The following song, Aphi (Wide as Oceans), addresses the struggle over Sami land, culture, identity and the future – issues indigenous people worldwide have in common. It moved me to tears.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Norwegian who doesn’t absolutely LOVE cinnamon. One could say 3 out of 4 pastry recipes in Norway includes this delightful spice (exaggerating here and there) , and kanelboller, or kanelsnurrer as some call them (in English we know them as cinnamon buns) is one of the most popular of Scandinavian baked goods. Perhaps it is the warming and comforting sensation one gets from cinnamon that is so appealing to northern people – after all, we spend over half the year being cold. Cinnamon adds a little exotic element to what is otherwise a straightforward cuisine, using what is at hand to create a meal. I am unable to count how many versions I’ve had of kanelboller; in friends and family’s homes, in cafes, at functions and everywhere else you can imagine food being served, and there have been very few I’ve actually disliked. The key is to get them light and fluffy and moist – the rest will fall into place, because how can you go wrong when adding cinnamon to a recipe?? Spoken like a true Norwegian.
Last year there was a huge uproar among Scandinavian cinnamon lovers, as the EU’s regulations stipulated restrictions of the use of cinnamon, citing the dangers of over consuming the spice due to its content of coumarin, a fragrant organic chemical compound in cinnamon, suggesting it to be moderately toxic to the liver. Bakers all across Scandinavia fumed, citing to their history of using cinnamon in their breads and pastries for over 200 years. The Swedes circumvented the regulations, citing that kanelboller were “Tradition food” and were allowed a higher dosage in their food. I find this to be quite funny, but also shows Norwegians and our fellow Scandiavians’ attachment to this popular spice.
I’ve covered cinnamon buns in the past here at Arctic Grub, but I wanted to develop a dairy free and egg less recipe since I decided a few months ago to no longer include these products in my diet. If you think eggs or dairy are needed to make a gorgeous dough – boy, will this one prove you wrong!! In fact, dare I say that this is perhaps the best recipe for kanelboller I’ve come up with to date?? You be the judge.
I would highly recommend using fresh yeast in this recipe. There is something magical about the scent and consistency of dough made with fresh yeast – something that truly reminds me of being in Norway in someone’s kitchen while yet another delightful pastry is baking away. While I am fully aware this is harder to come by in the U.S., I am lucky enough where my local market’s pastry department will sell me their fresh yeast by the pound. I suggest you ask the bakery department at your grocery store or bakery – many people are happy to make a few extra dollars selling their base ingredients!
The dough for these kanelboller is truly light and airy- a dream to handle! Another mention is that the spread in the middle should not be excessive – just a thin, even layer is enough. Remember, these aren’t super decadent cinnamon buns as we’re used to in the U.S. where both the fat and glaze is dripping and one bite seems enough before we deem it “too much” and “I can’t have anymore”. This is a bun that is not too sweet but that you (unfortunately??!) could eat three or four of in one sitting!
DAIRY FREE KANELBOLLER
1 1/2 cup soy milk or other plant based milk
100 grams or 1/2 cup vegan butter
50 grams fresh yeast (or 1 packet dry yeast)
500 grams or roughly 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
100 grams or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp baking powder
For the filling:
113 grams (1 stick) or 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
60 grams (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
60 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
Additional vegan butter (melted) and sugar for brushing and sprinkling on buns
In a small pot, heat up the soy /plant based milk and butter until luke warm, around 98.6 Fahrenheit (37 Celcius). Crumble in the fresh yeast or dry yeast if using. In a large bowl, combine half the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients, pour in the yeast milk mixture and add the rest of the flour until a firm, smooth dough shapes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients to the filling in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celcius) and spray two baking sheets.
Punch down the dough and roll it out to a rectangle about 15 x 20 inches (40 x 50 cm). Spread the filling thinly all over the dough and start rolling from the widest and closest edge until you have a “sausage”.
Using a dough cutter, divide into about 15-20 pieces and place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet.
Cover with a towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes.
Brush the buns with melted butter and sprinkle some brown or regular granulated sugar on top. Place in oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until nice and golden. Note: If you are a fan of glazed cinnamon buns, you can mix a bit of soy milk and confectioners sugar together until you achieve a thick but runny consistency and spread the buns with these after they have cooled down.
The kringle is a familiar Scandinavian pastry here in the U.S. among those familiar with Nordic cuisine. Often times referred to as the Nordic pretzel because of its similarity in shape, it is said to have arrived in the 13th century with the Roman Catholic monks. Denmark is the country in Scandinavia best known for their “kringler”, and although I’m Norwegian must admit they perhaps have the slight upper hand when it comes to developing creative varieties of this delicious knotted-shaped pastry.
The kringle symbol is one of the few ancient guild signs still used, and a traditional golden kringle sign is often hung outside bakery shops. The shape is said to symbolize hands folded in a cross like pattern across the chest ) to mimic the way people prayed in the Middle Ages. (and not folding hands as is done today). According to history, a 7th century monk wanted to reward his students with small pieces of bread shaped in same way the children kept their arms during prayer. He named the baked good “pretiolas” – “a little reward”. The idea was quickly adopted across Europe, and the kringle became a symbol of luck and a long, prosperous life. The kringle achieved particular fame in 1510, when Turkish troops attempted to dig their way into access Austria by digging their way underground through the wall into Vienna. The bakers, who were the only ones at work at that time of night, heard the noise, and the attack was stopped as a result. As a reward the bakers received their own seal, which among other things included the kringle, which later became the bakers’ symbol.
Solvang Bakery in California:
The Norwegian word “kringle” is an old word, meaning ring or circle. In his introductory notes in his royal history saga stories, Snorre Sturlasson (an Icelandic poet and politician) described the creation of the world as “Kringla heimsins” (the world’s circle) in Norse. His sagas have later become known as “Heimskringla”. Who knew this pastry had such a long and interesting history?
Bergen is the place in Norway best known for their kringle. The tradition most likely came from German or Dutch salesmen who conducted business on the dock in the coastal city (“Bryggen”). Perhaps this is where the connection to the German, salty pretzel comes in? Regardless, kringler from Bergen was hugely popular all over the country. Fishermen from the north were not shy – they even transported kringler back home north in empty coffins!!
Both sweet and savory versions of kringler exists, some are filled with nuts, confectioners glaze and pastry cream among many other delectable things. “Kringler” in my area of Norway however, more often than not, are not filled, but rather plain – the pastry cream filled version we refer to as “wienerbrød” and I have a blog post about these amazingly tasty pastries here.
I should also quickly mention the correct pronounciation of kringle is “Kring-LUH” – not “Kring-EL” which so many Americans say and I sometimes don’t connect the dots about which pastry they are trying to tell me about
Last year I posted a recipe for “aniskringler” – a kringle flavored with whole anise seeds, which is probably one of the oldest kringle recipes out there. Most Norwegians who remember this version, probably had their grandmothers serve this – as was the case with me. I love the simplicity of the flavors and preparations in it; both savory and sweet, with a touch of anise (sometimes likened to licorice but it’s more earthy). Today I wanted to update the recipe to eliminate the dairy in the recipe – it is so easy to make these with plant based ingredients and I promise you won’t even taste the difference!
BESTA’S KRINGLER (Grandma’s Kringler)
1 1/4 cup almond milk
50 grams fresh yeast or 1 packet instant dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
about 90 grams or about 6 tablespoons margarine or vegan butter
70 grams granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp whole anise seeds
400 grams or 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
Additional anise seeds for sprinkling on kringler
Almond milk for brushing kringler
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit (240 degrees Celcius). Line some baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small pot, gently heat up the milk and butter until around 90 degrees F/32 degrees C. Add in the yeast and stir to combine. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Knead until a dough forms. Cover with a towel, place in a warm spot and let rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
On a clean work surface, sprinkle some flour and start kneading the dough until smooth and shiny. Cut the dough into about 20 equal pieces, and roll them out to links. Shape them into a pretzel and place on prepared baking sheets. Cover with a towel and let them rise again for about 20-30 minutes.
Brush them with a bit of almond milk and sprinkle on whole anise seeds. Bake in oven for around 10 minutes until nice and golden on top. Spread some plant based butter on these babies and enjoy!!
Norwegians love to bake, and it’s a craft they have mastered to perfection. From cakes to cookies, breads and everything in between, there is something so special about baked goods from my home country. Most creations fit in the “rustic” category, and this brytebrød is typical of what you may find on modern Norwegian tables today. As with so many dishes, a trend seems to spread quickly across the country (taco Friday, anyone?), and in the past couple of years I’ve seen brytebrød in almost every Norwegian household! Shaped as buns and baked close together in the oven so they attach, the buns retains moisture and get extra juicy when made this way.
I am convinced that this bread must have been created in honor of the old, Norwegian saying that goes “Den som gir stakkaren tørt brød, skal sjølv få lide svolt og nød“, which translates into “He who gives the poor man dry bread, shall himself suffer hunger and despair.”
These buns will guarantee a happy life filled with tasty food, as these are super moist, light and fluffy and an an absolute delight to snack on!
Not unlike the knekkebrød recipe I posted the other day, this also contains a variety of seeds and thus makes for a bit of a healthier, but also more exciting option for breakfast, lunch or as an addition to your breadbasket or plate for dinner along with a soup and/or salad. Thank you to my sister, Agnes, for providing the recipe listed at the bottom of this post!
This can also be considered a bread recipe for beginners, because it’s so simple to make and comes together pretty quickly. The buns stick together after baking and the procedure of breaking them apart (“bryte” means break in Norwegian) is fun as you see the moist inside of bun appear and heat rising from them.
Play around with the below recipe. Change it up by reducing some of the all purpose flour and adding in some oatmeal for extra texture and flavor or use spelt, whole wheat or nut flours in the dough. Add in some chopped, fresh herbs, like rosemary, tarragon, thyme and/or oregano or fill it with some sauteed garlic or nut based cheese. Shape it into a loaf and slice it like a regular bread if you don’t want buns!
You can even make the dough the night before, and put it in the oven the next morning and you will have fresh bread for breakfast!
50 grams or about 3.5 tbsp each of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds or whatever seeds you have in your pantry
50 grams margarine or vegan butter
50 grams fresh yeast or 1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) dry yeast
3 – 3 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water or 1/3 cup applesauce or 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
About 2 lbs or about 8 cups all purpose flour
Line a 13 X 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gently heat up the water and margarine in a small pot, until slightly warm. Mix in the yeast. In a separate bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the dry ingredients, pour in the yeast-water-margarine mixture with the flaxseed mixture or applesauce or vegetable oil and combine. Knead until a firm, smooth dough forms, about 10-15 minutes. Cover dough and let rise in a warm spot (away from draft) for about 1 hour.
Divide the dough into desired sized pieces and roll into pieces that fits the palm of your hand. Place them in the prepared baking pan, slightly apart (they will rise in the oven and stick together, which they should). Brush the top of the buns with a little almond milk (or other plant based milk you have in your fridge) and sprinkle on a variety of seeds of your choice. I like to mix it up and sprinkle different seeds on each bun, that way everyone can pick their favorite flavor and crunch
Bake in middle rack for 30-40 minutes until nice and golden on top. Let cool on wire rack and dig in!
January is a meager month in Norway, where it’s typically so cold and dark nothing seems to ever be able to survive outside. This is when we have to turn to our pantry for food, and to the mason jars we worked at filling over the summer and autumn with all types of fruits and vegetables that were in season at the time. Preserving has been a huge part of Norwegian food culture always, just because the growing season for food is so short. The winters are long and brutal; the summers extremely short with very unreliable weather and temperatures. This makes it extra important to stash away any and all produce cultivated in the short period where these thrived.
My mother would have an entire room downstairs crowded with cans, mason jars and all types of containers of pickled plums, pears, pumpkins, cucumbers, carrots and onions, just to name a few. To this day, I think this was her “magic touch” to the dinners and desserts she served daily, as they all were incredibly flavorful and not lacking anything at all. I always believe people become more creative the less they have to work with; taste, texture and color becomes even more important, and little goes a long way when designing a dish.
My mother always used to make pickled pumpkin, a vegetable not very common in Norway, as you rarely see this vegetable in stores. Back in the day it was looked upon as an exotic food, something that we didn’t quite understand, but my mother was passionate enough about it to make it every single year. I can’t say that I recall any of my friends’ mothers doing this, then again at the time I probably wasn’t too curious. When staying at hotels across Norway, I have seen it on “koldtbord” tables (our version of the Swedish “Smorgasbord”, a buffet of a variety of cold plates) and it’s also added to fancy plates in fancy, high quality restaurants in Oslo.
With the American celebration of Halloween becoming more and more popular in my home country, I can only assume the use of pumpkins in food will increase, and not just be for decorating purposes anymore. Pumpkin is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and a great source of vitamin B6, A, C and E among other nutrients. Perfect January food!
Pickled pumpkins are typically added as an accent to a main dish for a slightly piquant, acidic and flavorful addition. They can also be added to soups, rice, stews or salads for extra flavor or as an addition to a (plant based) cheese tray or vegetable pate. Experiment with this delicious condiment and you will be amazed at how much this can brighten and lift up a meal!
SYLTET GRESSKAR (Pickled Pumpkin)
2 lbs pumpkin, cleaned, peeled and diced into cubes
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
750 grams or 3 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
40 grams or about 3 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
15 whole cloves
10 whole allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks (some people also like to add a vanilla bean pod)
1 -2 bay leaf
1 whole chili pepper (optional, leave this out if you don’t like heat)
Prepare /boil some clean mason jars in hot water to clean them and set aside.
Bring the vinegar, sugar, water, ginger and spices to a boil in a large pot and add the diced pumpkin. Bring down to a simmer and cook until the pumpkin pieces are clear and tender, 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the pumpkin bits and place into the prepared mason jars.
Continue boiling the liquid until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Pour the liquid over the pumpkin in the mason jars, screw on the lids, and let sit in room temperature overnight. Keep the jars in a cool and dark spot until ready to use!
Image from matprat.no
Each time I go home to Norway, the meal I most look forward to is breakfast. Norwegians and Scandinavians alike take this meal really seriously. It is often a serious spread and the meal can go just as long as dinner. Various spreads are placed on the table, mostly savory but also a fair share of sweet, all topped on freshly baked whole grain bread, accompanied by strongly brewed black coffee with large glasses of milk. I have switched to almond milk now, which I find rich and satisfying with a creamy taste, and contains 50% more calcium than regular milk – a winner!
In my house, several pieces of bread were topped with the most luxurious of foods (all homemade by my mother of course, ranging from pickled herring, pates and jam made from berries in our backyard) and ended with knekkebrød, topped with Norwegian brunost and jam. I often regretted not making the entire meal just of knekkebrød; there is something so satisfying, but yet light and easy digesting about these crispy crackers which are so popular throughout Norway and Scandinavia. Filled with a plethora of various seeds, whole grain flours and oatmeal, they are the perfect canvass for which to start a healthy snack or meal.
While many households choose to buy pre-packaged Wasa knekkebrød or a gourmet version thereof, it has become more and more commonplace and popular to make these from scratch. Super simple and quick to make, I agree the latter is the better choice! Here are some examples of store bought knekkebrød solutions you can find in Norwegian supermarkets:
In January, you will see many Norwegians bring their “matpakke” (a packed lunch) to work containing two or more pieces of knekkebrød, in an effort to cleanse their body from the riches of the gourmet foods of Christmas. Often referred to as diet food, it does not taste like it, rather packs a ton of flavor and has a great, crunchy texture that is both satisfying and delicious.
A source of great antioxidants and healthy fats from the seeds, I think this is a perfect, ultra Norwegian food to kick start 2014 with! I like them with Daiya cream cheese, a dairy free cream cheese that tastes so much more flavorful than the regular version, with slices of tomato and cucumber, topped with dill or chives. You can also spread hummus on them sprinkled with chopped olives, mint and roasted peppers for a more exotic alternative for lunch.
As always, I welcome any questions or comments!
225 grams or 1 cup oatmeal
225 grams or 1 cup rye flour
225 grams or 1 cup sunflower seeds
225 grams or 1 cup oat bran
225 grams or 1 cup sesame seeds
100 grams or 1/2 cup wheat bran
100 grams or 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
100 grams or 1/2 cup flax seed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp maple syrup
3 1/2 cup-4 cups warm water
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celcius). Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix the maple syrup into the water and pour over dry ingredients, stir to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Spread the dough over the prepared baking sheets . Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, remove from oven and cut with a pizza cutter into desired sized squares. Place the crackers back in the oven, and bake for another 20 minutes. Rotate them and bake another 30-40 minutes, a total of 1 hour to 1 hr 10 min baking time.
Let cool on a rack and they are now ready to dig into! You can store these in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.