Marimesse om våren (Mary's Message Day or Spring Mass, also known as the Annunciation) is a holy day on the primstav commemorating the moment that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would give birth to the Son of God. Traditionally one was supposed to commemorate it from noon the day before and until 1771 the 25th March was a public holiday in Norway. These days it has been added to the week before Easter and is celebrated on the Sunday between 22 and 28 March.
Mary was considered something of a super-saint in Norway, not only giving birth to Jesus but also watching over all life on earth and carrying on a fertility cult that stretches back to Norse mythology. Many flowers and plants are named after her and there was so much respect for her status that girls were never named Mary.
Most primstav are marked with Marimesse and the symbol of a tree. This signifies the start of spring on the primstav. It was hugely important anniversary for how the weather would behave. Many people were worried that if spring had started too early it would strike back. If the weather is good today then we will have a good spring and summer. In Østerdalen it is said that if the sun shone on this day then it would be a warm August.
I wanted to share a spring like recipe with you and one that can incorporate some edible spring flowers if you have any available. I have included pansies because they are the first flowers that bloom in our gardens here and are usually the plants that are most widely available to buy.
Rullekake is a perennial favourite in Norway. It is a cake that is chosen with coffee as much for a special treat or a birthday cake buffet. My version is light and airy and fat free, and you can fill it with whichever jam you like or have to hand. I used raspberry as it's one of my family's favourites and is so typically Norwegian.
Rullekake med Blomster
145g/5oz plus 2 teaspoons plain, all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
sugar for sprinkling
400g/14oz jam or a medium jar size (approximately, you may find you need a little less)
Icing sugar or powdered sugar for dusting
A selection of edible flowers such as pansies, dandelions or violets
Preheat the oven to 165C/330F
Whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until it is pale in colour and holds the trail of the whisk for a few seconds. It'll take about 5 minutes.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the egg mixture carefully, taking care not to knock all the air out of the eggs.
Pour the batter onto a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper. Using a palette knife or a spatula carefully spread the mixture out to about 30cm x 20cm. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 12 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on it because it cooks fairly fast.
While the cake is cooking, spread out a clean and dry tea towel on a clean worksurface and sprinkle lightly with sugar. This is going to take your cake and help you to shape the roll.
When the cake is a light golden brown and rebounds to a slight touch it is ready. Remove from the oven and take the ends of the baking paper with the cake on it and flip it cake side down on the tea towel. Gently peel the baking paper off the back of the cake. It will now be paper free and face down on the sugared tea towel. Starting at one long end roll the cake away from you using the tea towel to keep it fairly tight (not too tight!) and into a sausage. Keeping the tea towel around it, move it to one side and let it cool down still in the sausage shape.
When the cake is cool to the touch you can unroll it, still on the tea towel and spread the jam all over, going to the edges. Roll the cake back up into the characteristic swiss roll shape. Tidy up the ends by trimming them off and transfer the cake to a serving plate. Dust lightly with icing sugar and decorate with the edible flowers.
Vær så god!
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