Monday, February 25, 2013

Hveteboller - Norwegian Cardamom Sweet Buns

Hi hi!

I have just returned from my sojourn to Norway for a month and boy, was I influenced by their bread culture. Yup, you heard me right, bread culture. Bread, apparently, to a Norge, is not the white, hearty, bland, off the shelf variant that we are so used to getting at the store.

Bread to Norwegians is literally, life giving sustenance. I will explain why I said that. Do you know that a typical Norwegian daily diet consist of at least 7 servings of bread, 2 for breakfast, 2 for lunch, 3 for snack, and 2 more for dinner. I said at least because, well, some people eat more bread than others. And yes, they can have bread for dessert too. Fastelavnsbolle or Shrove Tide Bun, traditionally filled with whipped cream and refrigerated. Of course, there are many variants to the sweet buns these days given their growing economy including Kringles, Cinnamon rolls, and etc.

But back to my favorite of them abundance variations of bread in Norway, Hveteboller, the tiny little cardamom-scented sweet buns where you can buy 3 boller with a small coffee for NOK29 (about US$5) at all coffee shops and convenience stores in the city. Yup, they are huge fans of coffee too, the beverage of choice which they consumed almost religiously from morning till night. My kinda paradise, if you ask.

The best way to have the cardamom-scented bun is toasted with jam and slices of brunost, the Norwegian's famous brown cheese, which is literally not a cheese but more a by-product of cooking whey from goat cheese production till the mix caramelized and then shaped into blocks. Think Kraft singles and you will have a fairly rough idea of brunost. Except brunost has a caramel sweet taste to it, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, and it is strangely addictive.

If you have a Whole Foods outlet near you, go and get your brunost fix. I heard that you can find the Tine's Ski Queen brand sold under the name of geitost, which essentially is the same as brunost. Geitost being the old Norsk word for it. I still have ample supply of brunost from my trip to Norway, so, I have yet to wander to a local Whole Foods on my hunt for this strangely satisfying dessert cheese almost dairy produce. Not quite sure how much it will cost for a 2lb block but mine didn't come cheap either.

Back to the buns, if you are like me, you love the citrus-vanilla taste of cardamom, then I dare you to bake these boller (Norwegian for buns: boller-plural, bolle-singular). You can filled them with different fillings and bake them to other variant of boller but for the basics, I thought we can start with the popular Norwegian snack food of choice, Hveteboller.

Norwegian Hveteboller - Cardamom-scented Sweet Buns
Makes 12
1 1/2 cup of bread flour
1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour plus 1/4 cup for adjustment
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup of lukewarm milk
1 packet of active dry yeast or 75g of fresh cake yeast if you can find them
1/4 tsp of salt
1 1/2 tsp of freshly ground cardamom (or use your meat tenderizer to pound those cardamom seeds)
Milk for brushing


1. Microwave milk in a microwave dish on high for about 1 1/2 min. Combine butter into milk and stir till it melts. Let mixture cools to lukewarm (or you don't feel like you are burning your fingers when dipped into the mixture.)

2. Add in 1/8 cup of sugar and yeast. Let yeast blooms. It should take about a min if you have the temperature right. Longer, if the mixture is too cold, and trust me, you will see no action if the mixture is too hot. If the latter happens, throw the mixture out and start over.

3. In a clean bowl, measure out the 3 cups of flour mix. Add in the salt and stir to combine.

4. On a board, split the cardamom pods to obtain the seeds. Pound with a meat tenderizer or use your coffee grinder to get about 1 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom.

5. In a large bowl, pour in the milk, butter, sugar, and yeast mix that has bloomed.

6. Add in the flour mix and cardamom. Stir with a wooden spoon to obtain a soft dough that will leave the side of the bowl easy. You will need to add in about an additional 1/4 cup of flour to obtain the desired consistency. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough.

7. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm dry place for about 15 mins. After 15 mins, place dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 mins till you obtain a silky smooth bread dough that will not stick to your hands or work surface. Grease the bowl and the bread dough lightly. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise for another 45 mins or till dough has doubled in size.

8. Once dough has risen enough, divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape dough into rounds and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or you can just grease your baking sheet). Again, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another 30 mins till dough has risen.
9. Preheat the oven at 375F. Brush bread dough with milk. Bake in the oven for 18 mins till buns are golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack before serving, haha, or you can just slather these buns with butter as soon as it comes out of the oven and enjoy!

Hint: If you want to store these buns for later, let the buns cool completely on a wire rack. Place them in a ziploc bag. For longer storage, you can place the buns in the bag into the freezer. They almost keep indefinitely. Just warm them up in a toaster oven for 5 mins before serving, less if they are sliced. You can also microwave them for 50 seconds if they come right out of the freezer just before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Made these today and my Viking and his mother, visiting from Norway, are enjoying them. Just have to say it's a much better recipe than what I'd been using for so long, so much easier and, I think, pretty much foolproof! The ONLY thing I'd do a bit different is, of course, add the raisins (did that today), use a wee bit less flour (I used 3 cups only) and up the sugar a tad. This will be my "go to" recipe in the future. Thanks so much for posting!