14 February 2012

For Before the Fast Comes the Feast

I have a peculiar fascination with Lent and Easter traditions around southern and eastern Europe. Don't ask me why - I come from a family seriously lacking in the Lent and Easter-tradition department, so it has nothing to do with nostalgia. Nay, scratch that, I come from a culture seriously lacking in this department. Easter-traditions hardly goes beyond profuse amounts of bunny-shaped chocolates, egg-decorating, egg hunts and speculations about the factual authenticity of anthropomorphic creatures (the bunny – or hare, actually, in Norway - we have a fascination with chickens also). As for Lent-traditions, well, there are none. It saddens me greatly, but there you have it. Historically, Norway was too poor, and the populations too spread out, to celebrate anything en mass like they do in, say, Venice or Brazil. 
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 egg
1 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 egg
1 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.

6 comment (s):

爸爸 said...


Lannie said...

looks delicious!!!

Malin said...

Jeg elsker bloggen din og klikker meg inn flere ganger i uken. Liker hvordan du kombinerer gode oppskrifter med skarpe analyser på godt språk. Det er likevel én ting som jeg hele tiden biter meg merke i og ikke klarer å ignorere, selv om det egentlig bare er en ubetydelig detalj. Som et sted på kroppen som klør, men som man ikke når... Og på bloggen din er det kløende stedet ordet BOLLAR! Det heter da vitterlig bollEr, også på nynorsk?!?!?!?! Hilsen Malin(som er tonorskspråklig)

JavelinWarrior said...

Marion, I'm in love with these buns! The color is incredible but the best part are the little raisins tucked inside - awesomeness... I have featured this post in today's Friday Food Fetish roundup. Let me know if you have any objections and thanks for the inspiration

Marion said...


Lannie: Thank you

Malin: Tusen takk! På nynorsk kan du skrive bollar. Sjå her:http://www.nob-ordbok.uio.no/perl/ordbok.cgi?OPP=bolle&nynorsk=+&ordbok=nynorsk

JavelinWarrior: Thanks! No problem, I'm honoured to be featured in your blog :)

Mamatkamal said...

They look gorgeous!

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