Updated: Oct 31, 2022
For many of us in different parts of the world Shrovetide is marked with pancakes and the start of Lent. Fastelavn (as it's known here in Norway) is marked on Shrove Sunday with a special celebration food. Fastelavn itself is the three days before the start of Lent, Shrove Sunday, Blue Monday and Fat Tuesday, but Fastelavnsboller are enjoyed for days before throughout the whole of Norway.
When Christianity arrived in Norway, it was decided that there should be the traditional Christian 40 days of fasting before Easter when certain foods were banned such as meat. As with many countries in the world the days before Lent were a celebration and a chance to eat all the food that was forbidden in the days following and to enjoy the time with a traditional carnival mood. Typically food traditions vary from region to region and in northern parts of Norway the day is called "fleskesøndag" (meat Sunday) when soup, meat and pork are traditionally eaten. In Vestlandet (in the west of the country) "smalahove" (a sheep's head dish) is eaten.
Fastelavnsboller are one of those traditions that seems to be enjoyed throughout the country though and not without good reason.
These Shrovetide buns really only became popular after the 1900s when stoves started to be more commonplace. Of course, now we don't need any excuse to eat this delicious treat! Fastelavnsboller are light, airy buns, fragrant with cardamom and filled with strawberry jam and whipped cream. The perfect light and delicate patisserie for the promise of spring to come. Once you have tried these I am sure you will agree that Shrovetide just isn't the same without them.
Fastelavnsboller (makes 12 buns)
650g / 1lb 7oz plain or all purpose flour
120g / 4oz / 1 stick butter. I use salted butter because I think it gives more flavour
50g / 2oz fresh yeast. If using dried yeast, halve the amount
130g / 4 1/2oz sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
300ml/ 1 1/4 cups milk
1 beaten egg for glazing
300ml/ 1 1/4 cups double, whipping or heavy cream
Jam of your choice (optional)
Icing/powdered sugar for dusting
Rub the butter into the flour. Warm the milk and blend the yeast into a small amount of it. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the flour/butter mix and then add the yeast. Gradually add enough milk to make a smooth elastic dough which is soft but not too sticky to handle. Knead gently for 5 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest in a warm place for an hour. Once rested turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each one into a nice round ball and place onto a baking sheet that has been either greased or lined with baking paper. Give them plenty space around each other to rise. Cover again with the damp cloth and leave to prove in a warm place for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
Glaze the tops and sides of the buns with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown and nicely risen. Cool on a wire rack.
Whilst the buns are cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks. Cut the buns in half horizontally and fill with jam and whipped cream. Put the tops back on carefully and lightly dust with icing sugar. Enjoy immediately.
The unfilled buns will keep for a day at room temperature in a covered container.
Vær så god!
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