6 March 2011

Fastelavnsboller (Shrovetide Buns) – Recipe

It's Fastelavn today! In Christianity this festival (known as Shrovetide in English) marks the three days running up to Lent, which was historically a period of fasting and abstinence. However, I'm more excited by the fact that it means Easter – and therefore the end of the interminable Norwegian winter – can't be too far away. True to form, the weather in Oslo these days appears to be behaving itself and the thermometer outside has been tentatively poking its head above freezing point.

Fastelavn also traditionally marks the beginning of a period of feasting before the austere Lent period. It is said that one tradition at this time in Norway was to eat nine meals in each corner of the house. Old Pagan rituals also form a traditional part of Fastelavn in Norway, and one such tradition is the 'Fastelavsnris,' where birch twigs are placed in a vase and decorated with garishly coloured feathers. Apparently birch was viewed as a symbol of fertility.

Another tradition at this time of year in Norway is to make Fastelavnsboller – sweet buns that are filled with whipped cream. I suppose they once would have been the perfect way of fattening yourself up before Lent; now, instead, they are a deliciously decadent treat.

Norwegians have baking in their blood, and Mrs. Nibbler is no exception. Therefore, as I've mentioned before, she does most of the baking in our household and today I was treated to these beauties. To make Fastelavnsboller, she used the same dough recipe as for her skolebrød buns. Traditionally these buns are filled with whipped cream, but you could also add jam too. Another nice touch I think is to use crème pâtissière instead of the whipped cream.

Ingredients (makes around 20 buns)
  • 800g plain white flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 50g fresh yeast (preferably) or one 7g packet of dried yeast
  • 525ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • Icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  1. Melt the butter
  2. Mix the flour, sugar and cardamom in a bowl (and dried yeast if using that)
  3. If using fresh yeast, mix this with some of the milk in a cup
  4. Mix the rest of the milk with the warm melted butter
  5. Add the milk, butter and yeast mix (if applicable) to the flour/sugar, and mix well (with an electric mixer preferably)
  6. Leave the dough to rise so that it doubles in size (takes approximately 1 hour if you put the bowl in a sink with hot water)
  7. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a long sausage. Cut each sausage into smaller pieces, and make each piece into a round ball about the size of a mandarin orange to make buns. Put each bun on a baking sheet.
  8. Leave the buns to rise further for approx 15 mins
  9. Brush the buns lightly with some beaten egg
  10. Cook the buns in the oven for approx 8-10 minutes on 230°C (sometimes longer, depending on the size of the buns). When the buns have a light brown ring underneath them and a light brown colour on top, they should be cooked.
  11. Remove the buns from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
  12. Meanwhile, whip the cream, adding some caster sugar to taste
  13. Once cool, slice the buns in half and fill with whipped cream
  14. Dust the buns with icing sugar and serve!


  1. This is such a similar recipe to the Finnish Shrove Tuesday bun! This year I made an updated version of it :-)

  2. I can relate to the fact that you are looking forward to the end of Winter. Same here. In Germany it's with the appearance of the "Krapfen" or "Berliner" during this week's Carnival craze that I associate the end of winter (well almost).
    These buns look great but I'll need to get my expandable jeans out to indulge in them.

  3. Hi Maria. Yes, they're very similar to Finnish laskiaispulla. I really like the Finns' tradition of putting marzipan in them.

    Hi Meeta. Spring can't come soon enough! I love Krapfen, but unfortunately it's so difficult to find authentic ones outside of Germany and Austria.

  4. We always put an almond filling in ours in my family (I'm from Oslo). Not marzipan, but similar. More nuts, not ground completly, and just a little suggar instead of powdered sugar that you have in Marzipan.

  5. We serve these for dessert with a slice of marzipan in the middle, dollop of whipped cream and dusted with confectionary sugar Then - get this! - they are served in a bowl with a little hot milk poured around them. Does not sound good, but it is delicious!