Post #1 in my "Bun in the Oven" series. Read about the inspiration here.
The first time I came to Norway, I wasn’t much of a baker.
Which is perhaps why I became so easily enamored with a certain convenience store’s cardamom-enhanced raisin buns. This certain convenience store is found on nearly every corner in Oslo (not to mention most major cities) and has a name that consists of just two numbers, separated by a hyphen. I’ll say no more.....
When you’re on a budget and Norwegian tax laws afford you just one beer a week, it becomes a necessity to scout out the most economical indulgences of a city. For a college student who had very little money to begin with, studying in perhaps the world’s most expensive country didn’t leave much opportunity for indulgence. Raisin buns became my one, sweet, little luxury most mornings. Well, raisin buns, strong Scandinavian coffee, and some yoghurt. Norwegian yoghurt is known to convert former yoghurt-haters. But that’s another story.
Served warm from the oven, these puffy, browned little birds were comfort in bun-form.
And they still are. Smelling just like a sweet Grandma’s house, they made many cold, rainy Oslo mornings a little more pleasant. Now, six years, permanent Norwegian residency, and a lot more experience with flour and sugar later, I’m making my own raisin buns. Maybe you should too?
There are many rosinboller recipes out there across the country and the web, but I went with perhaps the most respected Norwegian culinary personality, Andreas Viestand's buns (if you anything like me, that last phrase conjured up a scandalous image). Young, charismatic, and talented, Viestad is the Norwegian Jamie Oliver- hold the lisp and overachieving attitude. Viestad is best known for his PBS cooking show, part of The New Scandinavian Cooking series, where he takes a stove and fresh artic ingredients to the tops of mountains and innermost fjord watersides. It’s a dreamy show, to say the least.
Norwegian raisin buns.
One of my earliest Norwegian comfort foods.
Not difficult to make, as long as you don’t have yeastphobia.
And the kind of bun that a pregnant lady can eat all day long.
Two buns for me, one for baby, two buns for me, one for baby, two buns for me....
finish, this recipe takes about two and half hours to make. It’s a great
weekend or holiday activity, but keep in mind that the recipe yields a large
quantity of buns, so you can eat some right-out-of-the-oven (when they’re
best!), a few more the day or two after, and then freeze the rest for another
occasion. You can certainly cut the recipe in half and make fewer buns, but if
you re-warm frozen buns in the oven,
you’ll save yourself some time and energy- not to mention, you’ll be in
heaven with the smell of sweet raisins and cardamom all over again!
P.S. It’s nice to soak the raisins for these buns in something slightly sweet and flavorful, like port, sherry, or apple juice (my beverage of choice for the next few months). The ground cardamom is a very typical ingredient in Norwegian baked goods, but you can substitute it for another spice, like cinnamon, if you so desire. Oh- and one last thing! If you're able to get a hold of some geitost, Norwegian brown cheese, do try a thin slice or two alongside your bun.
Soaking the raisins
Adding the cardamom
Taking in the fall colors while your buns rise
And a little fjord art
Then, admire your handiwork
Norwegian Raisin Buns
*Makes about 2 dozen buns
Sent in to Yeastspotting.com
1 1/2 cups (200 g) raisins
1/3 cup (1dl) port, sherry, or apple juice
8 cups (1 kg) flour
3/4 cups (150 g) sugar
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons ground cardamom (2 tsp. if you grind your own from cardamom pods)
2 1/2 cups (6 dl) milk
1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 50 g fresh cake yeast)
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 1/3 stick (2/3 cup/150 g) butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked, for brushing
1. Pour the port, sherry, or apple juice over the raisins in a small bowl, and allow to soak for as long as possible. Stir a few times during the soaking process to coat all of the raisins. You can also choose to do this on the stove top, which will speed up the absorption process.
2. Drain the raisins. Mix the flour, sugar, cardamom, raisins, and salt in a large bowl. (you could certainly use a kitchen mixer to do this).
3. On the stovetop, warm the milk to a lukewarm temperature. Mix in the yeast. Add this to the flour mixture with a wooden spoon.
4. Add the whisked egg and room temperature butter. Blend everything together well for a few minutes until a nice, “supple” (Viestad’s choice of word, not mine) dough is formed. The dough will still be slightly sticky, that’s fine, add a small amount of flour to your hands, if you like. Cover the bowl with plastic and allow to rise for about an hour.
5. Turn the dough out onto a clean, slightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 2 dozen pieces (or more if you want to make smaller buns) and shape these into round, little buns. Place them on a greased or parchment covered baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400F/200C.
6. Right before putting them into the oven, brush your buns with the second whisked egg. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow your buns to cool on a wire rack (if they make it that far).