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