Fastelavn: Fat Tuesday Norwegian style
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)