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Solskinnsboller (Sunshine buns) for Soloppgang on Svalvard

soloppgang Svalbard
The rising of the sun over the horizon each year is cause for a celebration on Svalbard. Photo courtesy of VisitSvalbard

The Nordic winter varies hugely from the south to the north. The further north you go the longer the nights become until you reach a point where the sun never rises for months on end. This is known as the polar night and residents of Svalbard know it well. The polar night is when the sun doesn't rise more than 6 degrees above the horizon. As you can imagine it makes for some very dark days.

Svalbard is a unique place. It's an isolated island in the Arctic, but is very much part of Norway. Once a bustling coal mining community Longyearbyen, Svalbard's main town, is now home to many small businesses and a thriving tourist industry. But life here is hard. Its bitterly cold in the winter, isolated and home to so many polar bears that's it's illegal to go out without a rifle.

Residents of Svalbard know how to make the most of small pleasures though and one of those is the ceremony to honour the rising of the sun over the horizon on 8 March each year.

At midday everyone gathers on the steps of the old hospital to view the sunning come over the horizon. There is music, speeches and a fanfare to the sun. The local school children are given special little pins called "solfestbuttons" to celebrate the special day. As the sun comes over the horizon for the time in months, they celebrate and what better way to do that than with a solskinsbolle (sunshine bun) baked by the local bakery.

We don't need to travel all the way to Svalbard to share in this unique celebration though. We can make our own solskinsboller at home and celebrate the spring sunshine our own way.

Solskinnsboller (Sunshine buns)

Solskinnsboller (Sunshine Buns) Makes about 20 boller


For the dough

850g / 1 lb 13 oz plain all purpose flour

135g / 4.75 oz sugar

35g / 1.2 oz fresh yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

500ml / 17 fl oz warm milk

125g / 4.5 oz room temperature butter

For the filling

150g / 5.3 oz room temperature butter

150g / 5.3 oz sugar

6 teaspoons ground cinnamon

A quantity of either crème patissiere, vanilla sauce or custard

Egg white

Icing sugar or powdered sugar


For the dough, put all the dry ingredients and egg into the bowl of a mixer. Attach the dough hook. Blend the yeast with the milk, and with the mixer on low, gradually add the milk to the dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes on low speed.

Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the dough. Knead again until mixed together. Knead once more for 10 minutes. At the end of the kneading time you will have a pliable and shiny dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about an hour (depending on how warm your weather is, of course!)

Preheat the oven to 180C / 355F

Whilst the dough is proving make the filling. Beat together the butter, sugar and cinnamon until well mixed and fluffy. When the dough has proved turn it out onto a floured surface and shape into a rectangle. Roll out to a rectangle about 70cm x 30cm. Try to get it nice and even throughout. Spread the filling mixture all over going to the edges. Starting at one long edge, roll the dough into a sausage shape with the cinnamon butter filling on the inside. Using a sharp knife cut into slices about 1.5cm thick and place on a baking tray that you have lined with baking paper. I like to put the solskinnsboller touching each other because I like the softer texture when they cook. But if you prefer something a little firmer, then space them about 3cm/2 inches apart. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove for about 45 minutes. Once the boller are about one and a half times bigger remove the damp cloth and using a teaspoon make a dent in the middle of each boller. Spoon in 1-1.5 teaspoons of vanilla sauce or crème patissiere. Bake in the centre of the oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking trays before transferring to a wire rack.

To make the icing, lightly whisk the egg white and gradually add enough icing sugar to make a smooth and slightly runny icing. You will need to beat well between each addition of icing sugar. Drizzle the icing around the edges of the boller and leave for about 30 minutes to set before enjoying with your favourite beverage.

Why not join us all in the Living a Nordic Life Facebook group. We are there right now talking about Nordic living and all things Scandinavian. We'd love to see you there!

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I simply love your articles Fiona. It nourishes my Scandinavian heritage so much.


Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

As always. Such a fabulous job Fiona. I loved this article so much.

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Thanks Corina

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