5 reasons to love Norwegian bread

As a typical bread-loving Norwegian, it can be difficult to live in a country that is protein obsessed and deathly afraid of carbs.  But it didn’t stop me from making today’s recipe of whole grain, multi-seeded loaves of bread that

I think I’ve shared my first experience arriving in the U.S. seeing all the plastic wrapped breads sitting on the shelves for weeks, thinking, “how is this possible? Why doesn’t the bread go bad?”  Yes, I know – I was pretty naive. Then I picked up a slice, only to discover that it was mostly air, and I was able to squeeze it in the palm of my hand and shape it into the size smaller than a ping pong ball.  I knew then, that this was not something I particularly wanted to put in my body.

This is when I became slightly obsessed with baking my own breads, buying specialty flours online and seeking out health food stores that would have the kind of darker, whole wheat and grain types we use back home.

Why eat Norwegian style bread, you ask? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Whole grains and seeds contain lots of nutrients and fiber, the latter helping you to stay fuller longer, causing you to eat less
  2.  It will help lower your cholesterol
  3. Stabilizes your blood sugar levels, helping you stay more energetic throughout the day
  4. Contributes to good digestion and gut health
  5. Can help prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

A bonus reason is that as opposed to white bread, whole grains and seeds contain tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help keep your body healthy. Why not opt for both healthy AND delicious if you’re going to eat? Norwegian bread is the way to go!

I am a believer in using quality grains and flours when making bread, cookies, pastries and cakes. I use organic products from smaller producers whenever I can, and wholeheartedly believe that if everyone would do the same, we would see less people intolerant of gluten and grains, and less obesity.

Yes, that’s right.  There has never been as much obesity in the world since the widespread popularity of the Atkins Diet, where red meat, bacon, eggs and cheese were touted as “health food” and food to eat if you wanted to slim down, whereas bread, pasta and rice were looked upon as the devil himself.

Come to think of it, growing up in Norway, we ate bread for breakfast, lunch and “kveldsmat” (a late night meal after dinner, because Norwegians eat dinner super early, around 5pm), and I never really saw any overweight people around. Food for thought, literally.

If you’re new to my blog, you might want to read my previous blog post about bread from my home region of Sunnmøre, which goes into more history and detail about breadmaking in Norway, and includes another recipe for bread.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say there are MILLIONS of recipes for homemade bread in Norway, we just love bread that much.   The best thing about making your own bread is that you know exactly what is in it, there are no fake additives and preservatives that may wreak havoc on your body, and of course: it tastes ten times better than any store bought version you will find! That is, if you follow my recipe of course! 🙂

This bread is made in two stages. You’ll combine the ingredients in the first batch as listed below, then wait a few hours before you add the ingredients from the second batch.  Trust me, the breads will be well worth your efforts! You can also double the recipe to make six loaves and freeze them so you have for weeks to come (or if you’re as big of a bread lover as I am, only for two weeks, hahaha).

Happy baking and please comment if you do try it out or if you have any questions! You can also stop by my FB page, Arctic Grub, and join in on the discussion about Norway and Norwegian food there!

MULTI-SEED, WHOLE GRAIN NORWEGIAN BREAD

Makes 3 loaves

1st batch:

a heaping 1/2 cup (75g) wheat bran

a heaping 1/2 cup (75g) chia seeds

a heaping 1/2 cup (75g) sunflower seeds

a heaping 1/2 cup (75g) pumpkin seeds

a scant 1/2 cup (100 grams) organic old-fashioned oats

1 cup (200 g) organic whole wheat flour

1 cup (200g) organic dark rye flour

4 cups (900ml) cold water

2nd batch:

1 cup (200ml) water

2 tbsp maple syrup or light syrup

2 tbsp sea salt

1 packet dry yeast or 50 grams fresh yeast

4-4 1/2 cup organic all purpose flour

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients from batch #1 in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let sit for at least 2 1/2 hours at room temp, or overnight if you can. This will expand the seeds and make them chewy, which will help bind them to the dough.

After the mixture from batch #1 has been sitting for several hours or overnight, add in the ingredients from batch #2, perhaps holding back a bit of the flour.  Fit the dough hook of the standmixer on and mix for 5 minutes at low speed, then increase to high speed and knead the dough for another 5 minutes. Add more flour if necessary, until you get a smooth, elastic dough.

Let the dough rest for another 2 hours.  Prepare three loaf pans by greasing them lightly with oil.  Then pour the dough onto a clean work surface, divide it into three equal pieces.  Fit the pieces into each loaf pan (if you don’t have loaf pans you can also free bake them by shaping the pieces into loaves and placing them onto a baking sheet).

Cover the loaves with a clean towel, and let rest for another 45 minutes at room temp. Meanwhile,  heat your oven to 440 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celcius).

Brush the top of the loaves with a little water, and sprinkle additional chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds on top. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or so until the bottom is hard and make a hollow noise when you tap them. Cool for about an hour (if you can wait) before slicing into ti. Serve with vegan butter and a cup of coffee or tea!

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A pumpkin bread recipe for when you want to impress

For someone who isn’t a huge pumpkin fan to begin with, this is a pretty big statement which I hope will catch attention.  Because your gustatory experience will depend on it. 

It’s not often I even get tempted by anything “pumpkin” and as a native of Norway, I never understood Americans’ obsession with pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin casserole, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cakes… the list goes on. 
 
But as I had received two good looking pumpkins from my CSA share a couple of weeks ago that were just standing on my kitchen counter, I decided to make use of them other than turning them Halloween decorations.
First I started with making my own pumpkin puree, because honestly – every canned version I’ve ever bought tastes god-awful.  Bland, boring and everything I will not allow in my food. I will include a super simple recipe for it here as well, it will be so worth it!
I shared in a previous blog post that pumpkins weren’t traditionally very common or popular in Norway, until just the recent years when Norwegians have felt compelled to start celebrating Halloween, although that was never observed when I grew up in the 70s and 80s.   In 2011, 250 tons of pumpkin were sold, compared to 900 to 1,000 tons in 2014. So the trend is absolutely increasing.
You can also read more details about pumpkins in Norway and get a recipe for vegan pumpkin spiced cookies that have previously passed my taste test here.
 Why eat pumpkin after all? A few reasons:
1. It’s healthy, and provides only about 12 calories per 100 grams.  Pumpkin also contains a lot of fiber, which is great for the colon and the digestion.  It’s rich in vitamin A, which helps maintain good eye sight and healthy skin.
2.   There are tons of exciting varieties, like blue, red-orange, cinderella, cheese and ghost white. Check out this article for more info.
3. Pumpkin is super versatile, you can use them to make savory soups and stews, as well as in desserts and baked goods like the pumpkin bread I’m sharing with you today.
4.  You can bake it, saute it, puree it, boil it and pickle it! Endless ways to change up the texture and flavor.
5.  You can use the entire vegetable for so many things. The flesh can be used in savory and sweet dishes,  dry out the seeds and toast them, and add them to salads, soups, oatmeal, yogurts, etc. for a snack that can serve as a healthy fat source, and the actual skin can be carved out and used as a lantern for Halloween.
So are you convinced yet to give pumpkin a go? I don’t think Americans need a lot of convincing, but if you were even the slightest bit of a skeptic to this vegetable or to vegan baked goods, after you’ve tried this recipe you will be converted for life.  Big statement, I know, but I wholeheartedly believe this will be one of the best things you will make this fall!
With that, I wish you happy baking and a wonderful, flavorful fall period!

THE BEST EVER VEGAN PUMPKIN BREAD

adapted from Averie Cooks

 

Streusel Crust
1/4 cup (half of 1 stick) vegan butter slightly softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
about 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour,

Bread
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (homemade – recipe below)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup coconut oil melted (you can sub vegetable or canola oil)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or other plant based milk, at room temp
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan  with oil or vegan butter and dust with a little flour.

For the Streusel Crust

In a medium bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and toss with a fork until mixture combines and crumbs and clumps form. This is a moist streusel, but if yours seems very moist and is paste-like, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons flour, as needed to dry it out. Set aside.

For the Bread

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients through nutmeg, and whisk to combine. Using room temp milk will prevent coconut oil from re-solidifying, but if it does, a few small white clumps are okay.

Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined, be careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter out into the prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over the top, using your fingers to break up large clumps if necessary

Bake for about 40 to 44 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.

Allow bread to cool in pan, on top of a wire rack, for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto the rack to finish cooling completely.

Slice bread with a serrated knife in a sawing motion, careful to not compress the loaf. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week  wrapped in seran wrap and stored in a ziplock bag. Bread will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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PUMPKIN PUREE

1 large pumpkin, halved, seeds scooped out

dash cinnamon

dash clove

dash nutmeg

sprinkle of salt

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).   Linke a baking sheet with foil.

Season pumpkin halves with the spices and place cut side down. Roast for about 1 hour until flesh is soft.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before scooping out the flesh, add to a high speed blender and puree until smooth. Let cool, refrigerate in an airtight container. Keeps for up to 1 week in fridge, you can also freeze it!

pumpkinbread

P.S. Don’t forget to follow my page on Facebook, Arctic Grub, where I post daily about food and culture from Norway!

Celebrate Apple Season With This Simple Norwegian Apple Cake

I’ve written about eplekake, Norwegian apple cake, a couple of times before on the blog, but it’s one I could write about multiple times over.   There are endless variations, such as a vegan version filled with marzipan which I shared here, and before I went vegan there was a vanilla custard variety here.  I’ve yet to measure up to some of the biggest food bloggers in Norway, one who can brag about having over 50 different recipes for apple cake alone! This will tell you how popular this is….

It’s the middle of apple season here in the gorgeous Hudson Valley of New York, and fall is the most magical time of year, in my opinion.  The leaves are turning and displaying gorgeous colors, the air is cool and crisp, and it’s all of a sudden ok to turn to comfort foods like creamy soups, stews, casseroles and baked goods again.  Halloween is my favorite holiday, and right around the corner, but that’s for another blog post..

In Norway, there are signs of apples being in existence since the Stone Age (around year 850).  54 apples were found in good condition; a sign they were highly valued.  But it was the monks who started planting apple trees and made it commonplace.  They quickly discovered that Hardanger in the southwestern part of Norway was the most ideal place to grow apples, and since they have been planted all the way up to the county of Møre and Romsdal, where I’m from, as well as further north.  The difference is that the apples in the south are for commercial sale, whereas the ones found in the northern parts of Norway are for personal consumption.   The juicy varieties we have in Norway today, is a result of a long history of cultivating and perfecting them.

The most important Norwegian varieties are Summerred, Aroma, Rød Gravenstein, Rød Aroma, Julyred, Åkerø, Discovery, Rød Prins/Kronprins, Lobo and regular Gravenstein.

The apple cake is a very traditional cake in Norway, and most people have some type of relationship to it.   It’s the epitome of an autumn cake, and I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t like it!

Most of the Norwegian apple cakes are super decadent, containing tons of eggs, sugar and butter and while I certainly have enjoyed a piece or two hundred in my lifetime, I wanted to prove that no eggs or dairy is needed to create the same wonderful gustatory experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the VeganEgga product made by the company Follow Your Heart, as I set out to re-create one of my favorite foods; a Spanish tortilla layered with potatoes and caramelized onions.  As a side note I’m happy to report that the result was fantastic, with my egg-loving husband giving it a big thumbs up.  But this week I wanted to try the egg in baked goods to see how it acted.  I’m thrilled to announce that the cake ended up  as juicy, rich and flavorful as the one I grew up eating in my mom’s kitchen!  I’m typically not a fan of using ready-made vegan products, but in this instance, I’m going to be making a regular exception, the results were that good.

Of course there are plenty of options should you not have the VeganEgg available to you in stores where you live.  Combining a tablespoon of either ground chia or flax seeds with 3 tbsp of water will equal one egg, or you can also used mashed bananas, apple sauce, cornstarch and/or nut butters. In this instance, I would naturally choose apple sauce, to go with the flavor profile of the cake.   Remember, eggs only serve as a binder in baking,  so as long as you find something that can bind the batter/dough, you are good to go!

I hope you will try this version of eplekake, it comes together in no time – I use a small mandoline to slice the apples, much faster and you get uniform sizes, ensuring even baking.  If you are a fellow cinnamon lover (if you are Scandinavian I won’t have to ask), you can go a little over the top on the cinnamon-sugar mixture that you toss the apple slices in for extra enjoyment!

Happy baking and as we say in Norway: Velbekomme!

 

NORVEGAN EPLEKAKE

 

7 oz /200 grams vegan butter, room temperature (just shy of 2 sticks)

7 oz /1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp VeganEgg powder whisked together with 3/4 cups (180ml) ice cold water

7 oz/200 grams/1 cup all purpose flour

2 1/2 tbsp /40 grams/1.5 oz potato starch

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup/100 ml plant based milk

Topping:

2-3 large apples, cored and sliced thinly

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp vegan butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius). Dress a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Add the vegan butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, and with the paddle attachment, whip it until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in the VeganEgg mixture.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, potato starch and baking powder.  Add slowly to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and combine until no traces of flour are left.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, and add the apple slices to it and coat well.  Carefully arrange the apple slices on top of the batter, stuffing the apples mid way down the cake batter in a circular pattern.

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Dab the 2 tbsp of butter over the top and bake in oven for about 50-55 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Serve with some whipped coconut cream or your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream!

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Vegan cardamom scented cinnamon buns in celebration of Cinnamon Bun Day on Oct 4th

I’ve long been trying to perfect a vegan cinnamon bun,  or “kanelboller” or “kanelsnurrer” as they go by in Norwegian.  Luckily it’s not hard to veganize them, as they don’t need eggs nor dairy, and omitting these ingredients will not affect neither the flavor nor the consistency.

Nothing makes me as happy as when Cinnamon Bun day comes around every year on October 4th. As if we really need another excuse to whip up a batch of these gorgeous creations… but when in Rome…

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about cinnamon buns, you can find my previous posts (and recipes) here, here and here.   I will therefore not go into the well known love us Scandinavians have for cinnamon and baked goods in general in this post again. I of course welcome any questions in the comment section!

I regard these delightful, fluffy and flavorful pastries a vital part of the Norwegian (and Scandinavian) diet, and there are few things I find as enjoyable to eat.  Equally suitable for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even a post-dinner evening delight (us Norwegians drink coffee at all hours of the day), they serve as a decadent, yet familiar pastry on Scandinavian tables.  I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t get served pastries made from some type of yeasty cinnamon flavored dough when you’re visiting a Norwegian home, it would be an unusual experience – they are that widespread and popular!

In Norway we have a saying called “kjært barn har mange navn”, which loosely translates to “a dear/special child has many names”, and this is true about the cinnamon bun.  It goes by “kanelboller”, “kanelsnurrer”,  “kanelknuter” or “kanel i svingene” (cinnamon in the turns) interchangeably and there are as many recipes for them as there are inhabitants in Norway, I believe.  I have to say I’ve rarely met one I didn’t like, so you can safely attempt this recipe and expect decent results!

In this recipe I also have added ground cardamom to the dough in addition to the cinnamon spread, I find that this adds an even more authentic touch to the buns and I hope you’ll agree with me.  Fluffy and light, you may not want to share this batch with anyone (and I won’t tell).

Wishing you a happy Cinnamon Bun Day and a fun time baking!

NORVEGAN CARDAMOM SCENTED CINNAMON BUNS

Makes about 18 buns

1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) dry instant yeast

1 stick (113g) vegan butter, melted

1/2 cups (about 350ml) plant based milk (I used almond)

about 4 cups (500 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (120) grams granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon sugar spread:

heaping 1/4 cup (or about 4-5 5 tbsp) brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

about 1/4 cup melted vegan butter

In a small pot, melt the butter on low heat, then add in the plant based milk.  Carefully heat mixture up till about 110-120 Fahrenheit, make sure it’s not too hot or you will kill the yeast.

Pour the butter-milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast in with a little bit of the sugar. Let stand about 5 minutes until you see the yeast starting to foam or bubble. If it doesn’t, it means your yeast is dead and you’ll have to do it over.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients; flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt.

Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook and on low-medium speed, start adding the flour mixture gradually.  Beat on medium for about 5-10 minutes until you see a smooth, firm dough forming and that should leave the edges of the bowl (you may or may not need to add a little more flour).

Shape into a firm ball and leave in bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

In the mean time, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the spread, and melt the butter.

Punch down the dough, then using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to  a square that measures about 20 inches  (50 centimeter) on every side.

cinnamonbundough

Brush the dough with the melted butter and spread the cinnamon sugar evenly across the dough.

cinnamondoughspread

Fold 1/3 of the squared dough towards the middle and the other 1/3 against the middle slightly overlapping the edges of the first fold and roll out again to a smooth square.  With a dough cutter, cut the dough diagonally into about 1 inch strips (2 1/2 cm).

For a visual tutorial on how to form the cinnamon knots/buns, check out this link.

Place the finished buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise again for about 20-30 minutes.

cinnamonbunspreoven

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (225 degrees Celcius).

Bake the cinnamon buns for about 10 minutes until golden up top.

Enjoy with a strong cup of black coffee with good friends and family!

cinnamonknots

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Recreate a Norwegian breakfast or lunch with rundstykker

What is ‘rundstykker’? These ’round pieces’ (=rundstykke) of bread are buns made with various cereals and grains, and are popular all throughout the Nordic countries, particularly in Norway and Denmark.   As bread lovers, Scandinavians love to play around with different versions of baked goods, and rundstykker are some of the more unique creations I’ve been unable to find a true equivalent of here in the United States.

While rundstykker are now enjoyed for both breakfast and lunch every day,  growing up in Norway in the 1970s and 1980s, they were a more decadent affair.   Today they can be found in ever home,  but when I was a teenager, you would mostly buy them in bakeries or cafes.

My niece recently shared a memory from her childhood of my sister making rundstykker and hot cocoa after they had been to swim class in the winter.  I recall my mom buying them at the bakery when she had her friends over from the charity she was involved with, and “dressing them up” with special cold cuts and neatly cut cucumbers, sliced salmon, scrambled eggs and curly parsley, or cheese and paprika.

Today you can even buy rundstykker half baked in the grocery stores, and just throw them in the oven and they are ready in no time,  but tasting like you baked them from scratch.   Rundstykker also go by the name “tebriks” – here are some examples of packages available in stores:

tebriks

Of course, I no longer eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs, so I was having a bit of fun the other day veganizing both the buns and the toppings.  Many original rundstykke recipes are already vegan – no eggs are needed and water is often used in place of milk.

I hope you’ll enjoy my recipe, these buns will turn out soft, light and airy and produces a fabulous dough that is easy to work with!     You can top the buns with any kinds of seeds, or leave seeds off and make them plain.  Spread them with butter and jam, or as I did the other day: a lettuce, tomato, peppers and avocado sandwich with vegan mayo:

avorundstykker

 

NORWEGIAN RUNDSTYKKER

Makes about 14 large rundstykker

1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast

2 3/4 cups plant based milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 stick (113g) of vegan butter (Earth Balance)

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water)

3 cups (700g) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (110g) rolled oats

1 cup (200g) whole wheat flour

melted vegan butter for brushing top of the buns

For topping on buns:

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp flaxseeds

1 tbsp pepita seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat on stove. Add in the milk and heat up to bring mixture to about 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes until it starts to foam.

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  While the machine is running, pour in the butter-milk mixture, then the flax eggs. Knead on medium for about 10 minutes until a smooth dough forms.  Add more flour towards the end if it is still sticky.

Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for about one hour until dough is doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease two baking sheets with a little oil or baking spray.  Combine all the seeds in a small bowl

Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean work surface, turn the dough onto table, roll out to a log and divide into 14 equal pieces.

rundstykkedeig

Shape into round buns and place onto baking sheets, cover with a towel and let rest once more for about 30 minutes.

Brush top of buns with melted vegan butter and sprinkle seed mixture on.  Bake in oven for about 14-15 minutes until golden up top. rundstykker7rundstykker5rundstykker3

 

Simple Yet So Delicious: Norway’s Wildly Popular Raisin Buns

As we often hear, simple foods is often best, and that is certainly true when it goes for Norway’s classic “rosinbolle”. This fluffy, slightly sweet cardamom scented bun filled with plump raisins are the favorites of many.  Millions of these are being devoured yearly by Norwegians, we can’t seem to get enough.  In fact, baking “boller” has now become super trendy in Norway, and the variety of recipes that are floating around is astounding!

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Image: kk.no

Norwegians are definitely proud of their buns (no pun intended), and are known across Scandinavia for this specialty.  Often you hear the slogan “world’s best buns” around these creations, and I have to say… it’s not an exaggeration!

I was inspired to make rosinboller this week because it’s winter vacation in Norway, and many Norwegians pick some of these up at their local gas stations (yes, they sell freshly baked goods there – in fact some gas stations in Norway sell more “boller” than they sell gas!!) on the way to their cabins in the mountains, where they will spend the week skiing, catching some sun (hopefully) and being with family and friends.  This tradition also repeats itself a few weeks later during Easter.  It’s also considered the “healthiest” alternative among pastries, because it has no creamy or sugary sweet filling but is just a delight on its own.

Try out my dairy free, eggless cardamom buns that turned out OH so AHmazing…. I’m still reeling over the delight of the first bite, right out of the oven!! Happy baking!

ROSINBOLLER

1 stick vegan butter (around 113 grams)

1 1/2 cups (350ml) plant based milk

1/2 cup (150 grams) confectioner’s sugar

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups all purpose flour (about 10 dl)

1 cup raisins

plant based milk for brushing buns

Place the raisins in a small bowl,  cover with hot water and let them plump up for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small pot over the stove and add in the milk.  Bring it to a temperature of about 110 degrees Fahrenheit (about 43 degrees Celcius). Make sure the mixture is not too hot or it will kill the yeast or too cold.

Add the mixture into a stand mixer bowl.  Whisk in the confectioners sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast and let sit for 2 minutes. With a dough hook, start adding in the flour gradually.  Continue kneading on medium speed for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and firm.  Cover with a towel and let rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour in a warm spot.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (225 degrees Celcius).  Lightly grease two baking sheets.

Pull the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface, and work in the raisins. Knead a few times until all the raisins are incorporated. Divide into about 12 even pieces (or 14, depending on how big you want your buns to be), and roll them into round shapes.  Place them on the prepared baking sheets. cover with a towel and let rise again for another 15 minutes.

Brush the buns with some plant based milk and place in oven, bake for about 12-15 minutes until lightly golden on top.

rosinboller

Havrekjeks – Norwegian grandmothers’ favorite cookie

It’s the 4th Sunday in advent today, as well as my birthday, so I figured I would go out with a big bang ending my Christmas preparation baking with some of my favorite cookies (next to kransekakestenger). These cookies are so simple, yet  just so heavenly, and for some odd reason only baked (for the most part) during Christmas. The thing is, once you’ve got a taste for it, these are cookies you will want to bake again and again…

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Many Norwegians remember visiting their grandmother and her serving these up alongside a pot of hot black coffee… The traditional “havrekjeks” do not contain chocolate pieces, but rather are enjoyed with a slice of the special brown cheese Norwegians make (brunost or geitost, read more about that tradition HERE).  While these cookies seem almost like peasant food because of their simple ingredients (with the exception perhaps of the generous amount of butter), they are simultaneously regarded as a special treat, which is why I find them so fascinating.

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The addition of chocolate pieces have proven to be particularly popular among children, so that is why you will see the more modern versions of this cookie made with chocolate.. (I’m a kid at heart, what can I say).

Thought I would leave you with this wonderful recipe as a last “hoorah” before we enter into Christmas week! Happy baking!!

HAVREKJEKS MED SJOKOLADE  (Oatmeal Biscuits with Chocolate)

1 tbs ground flaxseed

3 tbs water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 stick vegan butter (or about 113 grams)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark chocolate chip

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup oatmeal

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Dress a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl, add the vanilla extract and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Add in the flaxseed mixture and combine well. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in the oatmeal and chocolate chip in the end.   Using a medium cookie scooper, scoop spoonfuls of the batter onto the cooking sheet – you should get about 30-32 cookies.

Bake for about 10 minutes. Cool off and enjoy!

Havrekjeks

 

havrekjeks3

Saffron Rolls To Shine a Light On Santa Lucia Day

Today , December 13th, we celebrate Santa Lucia Day in Scandinavia. This tradition stems from  a combination of the celebration of Saint Lucia and the Norse “lusse” celebration.  There are many theories behind why we celebrate this day,  I will shine a light (no pun intended) on a couple of them here in this blog post.

Saint Lucia,  a rich, Roman virgin, was born in the year 283 in Sicily, Italy and was killed (most likely in the year 304) because of her faith  during the crusades in the Roman Empire in the 4th century.  Lucia was Christian and faithful in her belief, but she was engaged to a man who didn’t believe in God.  Her father was dead, but her sick mother wanted Lucia to marry rich, but Lucia didn’t want that.  After Lucia’s prayers to the holy Agatha,  Lucia’s mother miraculously got well and canceled her wedding.  As thanks, Lucia donated her entire fortune to the poor.

When Lucia’s fiancee found out there would be no wedding, he told the emperor about Lucia’s Christian faith.  During this time, Christians were being persecuted, everyone was to worship the emperor.  She refused to do so and remained faithful to her beliefs. As punishment, she was given a death sentence by burning.  The tale goes she died holding a burning candle in her hands.  The name Lucia, is a female version of the Latin name Lucius, which means “light” or “brightness”.  Very early on, people started building bonfires and holding a festival of light in Sicily to honor her name .

santalucia

The tradition of letting a white clad Lucia spearhead a parade with girls dressed in white with candles in their hands and hair, started in Germany after the reform in 1536. In Norway this tradition really only began just a couple of decades ago, while this celebration has a much longer history in Sweden.  It is believed the “Santa Lucia” celebration has became more popular as of late in Norway because of the number of Swedish people moving there to work.

santaluciatog

In older Norwegian farmer tradition, this day also went by “Lussidagen”, “Lussinott”, “Lussimess” or “Lussi langnatt” (Lussi long night).  It was regarded the longest night of the year; when water turned to wine, and the animals in the barn were able to talk.  People complained that this night was as long as two nights put together. there were a lot of trolls and other evil creatures out during that night, so people were to stay indoors.
All the major work for Christmas had to be done by this day. If somebody was still baking or brewing bear, Lussi, a female troll, would appear and yell down through the chimney:  “Don’t brew or don’t bake, don’t keep big logs on the fire. If you do, your dough will divide in two,  your grinding stone in seven, and your baking/work table in fifteen pieces” (this sounds a little better in Norwegian, haha!).  She would then punish the people who were still working.   Young women were believed to be able to see their future husband if they fasted, and trolls went from house to house to make sure everything was prepared for Christmas.   So in short, this night was thought to be long, dark and dangerous, and was named after Lucifer, the devil, and not Lucy, the saint.

tussikatt

This story might be more in line with another popular belief, that most likely started in Germany around the 17th century.  The story goes that on this night, the devil, in form of a cat, would give naughty children a beating, while Jesus, in the form of a child, would hand out rolls to all the good children.  Since the devil was scared of light, the rolls (lussekatter) were colored with the bright yellow spice of saffran to keep him away.  Lusse is the name for Lucifer, and “katter” is Norwegian for “cats”.

So a lot of stories around these lovely saffron buns, wouldn’t you agree? I could go on and on, as stories vary from country to country, but I have to have some material for Christmas of 2016 as well, right? 🙂

In the mean time, I will leave you with my recipe for lussekatter, as always dairy free and eggless, but nonetheless just as delicious as (and healthier than) the traditional recipe!   We enjoy these straight out of the oven, preferably accompanied by a cup of rich, hot chocolate while watching the snow fall outside…. Happy baking and Happy Santa Lucia Day!!

LUSSEKATTER

100 grams (about 1 stick) butter plus extra for brushing dough

1 cup plant based milk

1 packed dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)

1 gram saffron

100 grams granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cardamom

about 3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup raisins

Melt the butter in a small pot on the stove, add in the milk and stir together, set aside. The temperature of the liquid should be around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.   Pour the liquid into the bowl of a standmixer and sprinkle in the yeast. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Attach the dough hook and add in the sugar, saffron, salt and cardamom. Slowly add in the flour (start with 3/4 of the amount) and add in more flour as needed. The dough should be smooth and firm.   Cover the dough with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot and let rise until double in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

On a clean, lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in four equal pieces, then divide those again in four, so you have 16 pieces. Roll each piece into links about 6 inches (15 cm) or longer. Shape them any way you want, here is an example of different shapes you can try out:

saffronbuns

Image  from Julbaket/receptfavoriter.blogg.se

Here are some of my shapes (as you can see, I need to perfect my skill, lol):

lussekatterpre1

 

lussekatterpre2

 

Place them on to two baking sheets dressed with parchment paper, cover with a clean towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celcius).

Stick raisins in the dough /creases of the shapes, brush the rolls with melted butter and place in oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden on top, fluffy and moist on the inside. Enjoy!!

lussekatter1

 

lussekatter2

 

lussekatter3

Julebrød; a “must bake” Norwegian Christmas Bread

I wanted to rush to the computer straight after I baked my veganized version of “julebrød”  yesterday (also called “Julekake” meaning Christmas cake) because I simply couldn’t wait to tell you all how fluffy, juicy and flavorful this  bread turned out!!  This is, if I can be so bold, the best version of julebrød I have made and tasted to date, and I don’t say this lightly!

Delicate, slightly sweet with a subtle, welcoming flavor of the traditional cardamom spice used in Scandinavian baked goods, I am sure this will be your new favorite bread if you haven’t already tried it.  No eggs needed here, they turned out absolutely perfect:

julebrod2

The history of baking this Christmas bread can be traced back to pre-Christian, norse times and was one of the traditions Norwegians carried with them.  The bread was made from one of the last corn husks in the fall, and the bread was placed in the homes as decoration through the entire Christmas period.  The bread was not to be eaten, and was packed away and put in a special chest where people would store corn over the winter. The bread was brought out and unpacked when the spring harvest started.  When the plowing started, it was divided between the workers and the horse.   Some of the bread was also mixed into the seeds that were to be planted, as a form of fertility magic. Another interesting fact, is that the corn husk seems to stem from old rituals surrounding fertility, and several priests in Norway and Sweden tried to ban this “Un-Christian” tradition.

A sister and brother pictured in Oslo in 1905 with a Christmas tree and “Julenek” (resembling corn) or wheat husk in preparation for Christmas:

juleforberedelser

Photo by Anders Beer Wilse/ Oslo Museum

In old Denmark, Christmas bread was believed to cure headaches and snake bites, so if you find yourself with a migraine, perhaps try this recipe out … If your headache still doesn’t go away, your taste buds will at least thank you!!

julebakingstiftendk

Image from stiften.dk

This bread is wonderful as a special treat for breakfast during Christmas, but equally appropriate to serve up in the afternoon or evenings for friends and family. You can top it with cheese or jam, as is customary in Norway.   The traditional recipe includes “sukat”, or candied citrus peel, in addition to raisins – but I clearly remember meticulously picking those small green pieces out of my bread each and every time I had a slice growing up, so I decided not to include them (as most people do) in my recipe. If you would like to add sukat, just add equal amounts to raisins.

I hope you will try out my eggless recipe, you will not be disappointed,  I promise!!

JULEBRØD  (Julekake)

1 stick butter (about 125 grams)  plus extra for brushing dough

2 cups almond milk or other plant based milk

1 packet dry yeast

2/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

3-4 cups all purpose flour (start with 3, then add more as needed)

2/3 cups raisins

Melt the butter in a small pot on the stove, add in the milk and stir. The mixture should be around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and drizzle the yeast in, let sit for a couple of minutes until the yeast starts to bubble (This way you know it’s active and working).

Attach the dough hook, and add in the sugar, ground cardamom and flour.  Knead the dough for several minutes until the dough releases from the bowl and you have a smooth, firm dough.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.

On a clean work surface sprinkled with a little flour, divide the dough in two equal pieces, and knead in the raisins equally into both doughs. Roll out to a big “bun”, flatten them a little into oval shapes, and place on a prepared /greased baking sheet.   Cover with a towel and let rise for another 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brush the top of the breads with melted butter and place in the oven on the bottom rack. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top.  Cool the breads on a cooling rack, slice and spread with butter and enjoy with a cup of hot coffee, Norwegian style! 🙂

julebrod

julebrodskiver

 

And finally, add two pounds of pepper….

While I wouldn’t suggest you do this when making the popular Norwegian Christmas cookies “pepperkaker”, the Norwegian word for “ginger bread cookies”, there is a famous “pepperkake” song by famous Norwegian playwright and children song writer Torbjørn Egner that goes something like this (It rhymes in Norwegian, so won’t sound as good in English!):

“When a pepperkake” baker bakes pepperkaker

He first grabs a saute pan

and two pounds of margarine

In the pan, the butter melts

And the next thing he must do

is to whisk the butter with two pounds of sugar

and while the butter and sugar is foaming

he adds 8 egg yolks 

which he swirls around in the pan

with two pounds of flour

and in the end he adds a small teaspoon of pepper

and whisks the batter around

and dumps the dough on a cutting board

Now the story goes, if you want “double peppered” ginger breads, you add only one teaspoon of sugar, and two pounds of pepper… but let me tell you, that is a lot of pepper!!!

While I like a lot of spice in my cookies, I also want them to be slightly sweet, but perhaps not as sweet as say, a chocolate chip cookie.  These cookies are a perfect companion to the Norwegian version of mulled wine popularly called gløgg in Scandinavia (read more about it and get my recipe here) and is equally popular among kids and adults.  The common tradition is snacking on pepperkaker and sipping on som gløgg while decorating the Christmas tree on the day before Christmas eve, and also creating and decorating ginger bread houses. Nothing is as festive, and between the gløgg and the pepperkaker, the smell coming out of the kitchen is nothing short of amazing.

gloggogpepperkake

The “must include” ingredients in Norwegian ginger bread cookies, include syrup (in the U.S. you can use maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, or light or dark corn syrup to substitute), ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  Cardamom is also commonly used. Pepper, despite the name of the cookie, is not a necessary ingredient in the cookie.

pepperkakegalleriet.no

Image from pepperkakegalleriet.no

Image from pepperkakegalleriet.no

Ginger bread cookies are probably the most traditional of Christmas cookies found in Norway, and arrived in Norway around the 17th century.  Household stoves didn’t become common until the 19th century, so most of the ginger bread cookies came from professional bakeries or big farms that had ovens.  Ginger bread houses are also very popular, and the city of Bergen has claimed the title to have the biggest gingerbread town in the world for about 25 years now!

Here is a photo of it :

Bergenpepperkaketown2

Image from visitbergen.com

I have heard there is perhaps competition to be found in Minnesota, and would love some of my readers to contribute to photos if anyone has any!

In Norway, gingerbread houses are made to serve first and foremost as Christmas decorations during the holiday, but when Christmas is over, it gets eaten by the kids 🙂

I naturally had to experiment with a recipe that contains no eggs or milk, and as always – it is super easy to eliminate these animal foods and create just as tasty of a product with plant based alternatives. I’ve included my recipe below, which I really hope you’ll be tempted to try out!! The cookies turned out perfectly imperfect looking, just as I like them – because that is the sign they are home made and not made by a factory or bakery – the best kind!!

PEPPERKAKER

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses or maple syrup

1/4 cup plant based milk or soy creamer

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp cinnamon

Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and sugar for a couple of minutes.  Add the syrup, milk and vanilla extract. Add in the dry ingredients until a stiff dough is formed. Dump out onto a surface and pat down to a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease two cookie sheets.   Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with your cookie cutters.

pepperkakeshapes

Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes.

pepperkakerubakt

The cookies might seem soft, but will quickly harden up once they cool off. Mine turned out not perfect, but oh so tasty! 🙂

pepperkaker

If you would like to decorate the cookies, just mix 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 2-3 tbps water until desired consistency, add into a pastry bag and decorate away! 🙂