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Norwegian boller

Updated: Tue, 2 May, 2023

Boller, Norwegian cardamom buns studded with raisins make a fabulous breakfast. And they make the house smell divine while they bake.

norwegian boller

Breakfast buns, like Grandma ordered

Buns, buns, buns. If I was a five year old I’d go around the house singing ‘buns, buns, buns’ every time I make some kind of fluffy, bunny (a brand new meaning to these two words together, see what I’ve done there?) little numbers. What can be nicer for breakfast than a fresh or toasted, buttered bun?

Breakfast is important and I do religiously believe in what my Grandma used to say that you should never go out on an empty stomach.

I know, there’s no time even to put makeup on hence my pet hate: women who put on their make up on the train. Look, you wouldn’t floss your teeth on the train, would you? Just set the bloody alarm ten minutes earlier, woman!

And so you end up at the overpriced Pret or Starbucks, grabbing your skinny hemp frothaccino and a plastic pot of muesli or porridge, clearly cooked days in advance.

I’m sorry – there’s no comparison, the buns win hands down.

norwegian breakfast buns

Norwegian buns

There is nothing awfully different about the way the Norwegians go about making buns to how the rest of the world make them.

The only distinctly Scandinavian bun characteristics, also present in Swedish St Lucia buns, is spicing them with cardamom.

If you bake a batch of these and worry they’ll go stale, freeze any surplus on the day. They taste gorgeous when defrosted overnight, almost like fresh.

And then the only effort will be to remember to defrost a couple the night before, grab one for the road and have it with a takeaway coffee on the train. Grandmas everywhere happy.

The original recipe was posted on The Bakery Bits blog, but since defunct so I’m your only source, hehe.

boller norwegian cardamom buns

How to make the bun dough?

The only chore is the cardamom.

Cardamom pods release their tiny slightly turd-like (excuse the comparison) seeds easily, but the grinding them into a powder is a real grind.

You can buy ground cardamom but it loses its flavour fairly quickly. Old fashioned pestle and mortar is the way to obtain maximum fragrance from those funny seeds.

grinding cardamom

The rest is totally commonplace, as bun are concerned.

Warm milk and water, or semi-skimmed milk if that’s what you have, will help melt butter and sugar. Egg should be whisked in only when there’s no longer a danger of it scrambling in too warm a mixture.

Glycerine is added to help keep the buns fresh for longer, but it’s not strictly required.

Wet to dry ingredients or the other way round – then mixing with a dough hook attachment in a standing mixer for about five minutes, or applying elbow grease to your dough for ten, if kneading by hand.

Either way, the dough should end up elastic and smooth, bouncy and not at all sticky.

Give it a ten-minute rest, then fold in raisins. Proofing in bulk, in a bowl covered with cling film or a damp cloth, should take about an hour until the dough has doubled in volume.

buns with raisins and cardamom

Shaping and baking

Are you the meticulous kind of baker (I so am!) who measures out chunks of dough to ensure equally sized buns? In which case the dough pieces should weigh about 90g each.

Shape neat balls and flatten them lightly if you like, or leave to stand tall on a baking tray.

The second proof is an hour long again, until the buns have swollen proudly to almost twice the size.

proofed buns

They bake in not-too-hot oven, brushed beforehand with egg wash for a shiny glaze. The smell is divine, especially if the cardamom was fresh and freshly ground.

When out of the oven restrain the temptation to devour one while hot (bad for your tummy as my Grandma used to say), but lightly wrap in a clean tea towel while they cool on a wire rack.


More bun recipes

Austrian Buchteln recipe, vanilla sauce optional. Buchteln (boogh-telln) are tricky to pronounce for an English speaker, but very easy to eat! They are basically jam doughnuts baked in a cluster – so healthier than the ordinary deep fried doughnuts.

Easter classic: hot cross buns. Wholemeal, with tons of raisins, piped crosses and delicious sticky honey glaze. There’s no better spring breakfast than a buttered hot cross bun.

St Lucia buns, vibrant with saffron and elegantly twisted, are Swedish Christmas time bakes. Lucia Day and Lucia buns go back to the history of Lucia, an early Christian martyr.

More Norwegian recipes

Julekake (pronounced yoo-le-kar-ka) is a traditional Norwegian Christmas bread, with Sukat (candied citrus peel) and raisins. Julekake is flavoured with cardamom and it’s best toasted, served with gjetost (Norwegian brown cheese).

Norwegian apple cake, eplekake, is plenty of apple slices on sponge batter enriched with milk. This recipe is from NY Times but cross-referenced with Norway!

Cured salmon, homemade gravlax, flavoured with fennel, caraway and lemon zest. Three minutes work, four days wait and you have an astonishingly good party starter or a sandwich filling. Good value too, obviously.

norwegian sweet buns

Norwegian boller

Servings: 12 bunsTime: 3 hours


  • 125g milk
  • 125g water
  • 65g unsalted butter, softened
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp glycerine
  • 1 large egg
  • 20 cardamom pods
  • 30g fresh or 10g instant yeast
  • 5g fine sea salt
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 125g raisins
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk


1. Warm up the water and the milk and pour into a large bowl or the standing mixer bowl, if using. Add the butter, sugar, glycerine and egg and mix well.

2. Split open all of the cardamom pods and scoop out the seeds. Grind them into powder in a mortar and pestle, sift through a small sieve and add to the mix.

3. Crumble in the yeast and add the salt and flour. Knead by hand or mix with a dough hook attachment for at least 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and bounces off the sides of the bowl or stops sticking to your hands.

4. Cover and leave for about 10 minutes for the gluten to relax, then add the raisins and mix in on low speed.  Finish off by kneading the raisins in with your hands to distribute them evenly.

5. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in volume, about an hour.

6. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 12 pieces, about 90g each. Form each one into a tightly molded ball and place on baking trays lined with parchment, well-spaced apart.

7. Cover the trays with a damp tea towel or place each tray in an inflated plastic bag (just blow into it and tie the ends!) for an hour, until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

8. Beat the egg with the milk for the glaze and gently brush over each bun. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and loosely cover with a clean tea towel to keep them moist.

Originally published: Thu, 27 August, 2015

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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