Sure, we go to church, we have lamb – I even still go egg-hunting, but that's not quite the same. What I've always craved are traditions beyond coloured eggs and chocolate. And yes, I do get a week and a half off, but apart from that, I do feel my Catholic and Orthodox friends around the world are much better at, well, throwing a party. Take Lent, for instance. The Venetians celebrate the arrival of Lent with a masked carnival, Mardi Gras is celebrated by New Orleanions, while the Brazilians kick it off big time with their famous Rio de Janeiro carnival. By contrast, besides fastelavnsbollar (more on that later), the arrival of Lent is not really celebrated in Norway.
Fastelavn*, though, is a good excuse to spend a day eating only sweet things, at least in my opinion. The Brits will have their pancakes with syrup, and the French their beignets, on Tuesday, but Norwegians like to be different and have opted instead to celebrate the arrival of Lent two days before most of our European neighbours. Traditionally in Norway, you celebrate the day with fastelavnsbollar; cardamom buns sliced in half, and filled with whipped cream. Of course, the extra whipped cream and sweet (and butter-rich!) buns were meant to fatten you up a bit before Lent, though most now prefer to fatten themselves up, then continue eating as before instead.
I hope you'll be able to forgive me for not sharing something Norwegian with you today, something you'd be able to whip up for fastelavnssundag on Sunday. But even though I did bake a batch of traditional Shrovetide fastelavnsbollar a few days ago, the pictures I took were, to put it bluntly, completely awful. Lest you point out that I could've simply re-photographed the bollar, let me just say that I did... three times! I suppose it just wasn't my day. Besides, I actually don't like fastelavnsbollar (too much cream!). So this year I thought I'd make something different for a change, widen by hips, so to speak. After browsing through thousands of recipes, I turned to a trusted French recipe site, and opted instead to bake these petits pains au lait et aux raisins. It's a rich and sweet bread, perfect for fastelavn, and I heartily encourage you to give it a try. And besides, these are simply too good to not share, so I had no choice. Really.
*The word 'fastelavn' comes from the Low-German vastel-avent, meaning 'the eve of the fast', i.e. the eve before the three days leading up to Lent. Similarily, Carnival actually means 'goodbye to meat', from the words 'carne' and 'vale'.
I'll be submitting petits pains au lait et aux raisins to Yeastspotting.
Petits pains au lait et aux raisins :: Milk Buns with Raisins
Adapted from Journal des Femmes
310 ml. whole milk, tepid
1 large egg1 tsp. salt
60 g. butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
12 g. vanilla sugar
600 g. flour
21 g. fresh yeast
100 g. raisins
1 egg + dash of milk, for glazing
1.In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla sugar and flour together. Crumble the fresh yeast in the flour. Add the egg, and mix. Add the whole milk, mix, then add the butter. Mix and knead well for about 10-15 minutes. Add the salt, and continue to knead for another 10 minutes. Cover with damp tea towel, and let rise for one hour, or until doubled.
2.Divide the dough in 12 pieces, add a tablespoon of raisins to each piece and roll to form buns. Let rise for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
3.Bake the raisin buns for 7 minutes. Take out, glaze with the egg wash and bake for a further 7 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Petits pains au lait et aux raisins :: Mjølkebollar med rosiner
Oppskrift frå Journal des Femmes
310 ml. heilmjølk, lunka
1 egg1 ts. salt
60 g. smør, ved romtemperatur
3 ms. melis
12 g. vaniljesukker
600 g. mjøl
21 g. fersk gjær
100 g. rosiner
1 egg + litt mjøl, til eggvask
1.Visp gjæren og mjølka godt saman. Bland melisen, vaniljesukkeret og mjølet saman i ein bolle. Hell gjærblandinga i bollen med dei tørre ingrediensane, og bland saman. Ha i egget og smøret og kna deigen i omlag 10-15 minutt. Ha i saltet og kna i omlag 10 minutt. Dekk til med eit handklede og la deigen heva i omlag ein time.
2.Del deigen i 12 delar, og legg omlag 1 ms. av rosiner i kvar del. Rull kvar del til ein bolle og la dei heva i omlag 15 minutt. Varm opp omnen til 200 C.
3.Steik bollane i 7 minutt. Ta or omnen, pensla med eggvask, og steik i ytterlegare 7 minutt.