Easter is fast approaching (yes, already!) and if you’re yet to load up on sweeties and chocolate it is time to do so. We have stocked up on sweets and chocolate – and some lovely Scandi Easter eggs chock full of lovely Scandi pick’n’mix.
Fancy winning one of these? Simply answer the easy question below;
In Sweden, little children traditionally dress up as what on Easter eve?
Send your answer by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday 22nd March 2016 at midday. One main winner, getting a big ScandiKitchen easter egg will be drawn from all correct entries.
The usual rules apply. UK residents only. No cheating. One main winner. No alternative prize and no cash alternative.
After the long, dark nights of winter, Easter and the arrival of spring are truly celebrated in Scandinavia. Whether spent in the south welcoming the return of the spring flowers or spent escaping to the mountains in the North, getting in a few last runs on the slopes, Easter is a time of renewal for Scandinavians, celebrated with good food and good company (and perhaps the odd shot of aquavit or two). Peek into the history of the Viking north and you’ll find plenty of magic things that add to the richness of Scandinavian Easter celebrations.
Many of the Scandinavian countries have their own specific traditions associated with Easter, most of which stem from Christianity, but some of which have other origins and over the years have become part of the Easter holiday traditions.
In Denmark, for example, the tradition of writing “teaser letters” still holds strong and has done since the early 1800s. A teaser letter is a pattern carefully cut into a piece of paper with a little verse written between the cuttings. The sender then adds dots in place of his or her name and encloses a snowdrop – considered to be the first flower of the year in Denmark and a symbol of springtime and lighter days. If the receiver cannot guess who sent the letter before Easter, the prize for the sender is a nice big Easter egg. If, however, the sender guesses, the prize goes to the recipient (although, miraculously, most parents never do seem to be able to guess which letters are from their own kids).
In Norway a slightly different tradition is associated with Easter, and perhaps a slightly unusual one at that, with no links to anything much historic: around Easter, publishers rush to churn out masses of what are known to all Norwegians as “Påskekrimmen” – literally translated as ‘Easter Thrillers’ – and bookshops are filled to the brim with newly published crime novels. This fascination with “whodunnits” even extends to mini-thrillers being published in obscure places such as on the side of milk cartons. So, if this Easter you happen to bump into a Norwegian who has his backpack stuffed with a selection of gory crime novels, an orange and a ‘Kvikk Lunch’ chocolate bar, it’s pretty standard fare.
Sweden, on the other hand, has Easter celebrations that are deeply rooted in the old Christian witch-hunt times. The celebrations last from Maundy Thursday until Easter Monday. In the olden days it was thought that on Maundy Thursday, all the Witches would fly off on their broomsticks to the Blue Mountains in Germany to have a weekend of fun and dancing with Satan. Today, children in Sweden celebrate by dressing up as little witches, called påskkärringar (literally: ‘Easter Witches’): dressed in long skirts, headscarves, painted red cheeks and freckles. The kids go from house to house to collect money or sweets – this is the Swedish version of the North American tradition of Halloween. The children sometimes also deliver an Easter Letter – the identity of the sender is always supposed to be a secret.
Easter time in Scandinavia is, of course, also about eggs – both the chocolate version, the version filled with sweeties, the painted version and the version that has a place on the traditional Scandinavian smorgasbord. In Sweden and Denmark, the traditional Easter lunch is pretty much the same as it is at Christmas time except minus a few of the heavier winter dishes. Plenty of herring, cured salmon with dill sauce, meatballs and beetroot salad and perhaps smoked or roasted lamb dishes. All washed down in the company of good friends and a bottle of something strong, such as the delightful aniseed flavoured Danish Aalborg aquavit.
Scandinavia comes highly recommended for Easter, whether you fancy walking through the budding green forests of Denmark in the south or feeling serene in the still snowy mountains of northern Scandinavia – there are certainly adventures to be had and beautiful scenery to be explored along with rich traditions in which to take part. Alternatively, be Norwegian right here at home and cosy up in front of the fire with a bunch of crime novels and dream of long summer days to come.
Fancy a treat this Easter? Then how about entering the competition for a filled egg from ScandiKitchen. No, not the small kind, the nice big beautiful kind. The kind stuffed with amazing pick and mix from our cafe (over half a kilos worth of sweets and treats).
We’re giving away one egg this week – to be in with a chance of winning, simply answer this super easy question:
Just some inspiration for a lunch time open sandwich to make at home… A beautifully softly boiled egg with delicious green asparagus.
Soon, asparagus will start to be more available as the season starts in the UK – and what better pairing than egg and delicious dark rye bread.
Open sandwiches are super healthy and easy to make. And so very, very pretty. We recommend serving this along with two other kinds as a light lunch – you can find other open sandwich inspirations on our blog.
Ohhh, those delicious buns of delight and loveliness. It’s the season and we have a great recipe.
Lent buns (Semla for singular, Semlor for plural) are buns eaten leading up to and during Lent in Scandinavia. In Sweden the are most popular and bakeries start selling these already in January. Fat Tuesday – Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras – is the day when we eat at least one and maybe more of these buns. We basically fatten up before Lent.
You will never ever find Semlor buns sold outside the season – it is just not done. So, take advantage of the season now that runs until Easter and have a go at making these seriously rich buns at home.
Let us tell you that the little dollop of custard or creme patisserie makes all the difference. Thats just our little trick and hint for an extra delicious bun.
If using mixer, set it up with the dough hook attachment. Melt the butter and add the milk, ensuring a lukewarm temperature of around 37-38ºC. Add the fresh yeast and stir until dissolved.
Add sugar and stir again. Add half of the flour as well as the salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add the ½ egg (preserve the other half for brushing before baking).
Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated and then start to add more of the flour, bit by bit, until you have a dough that is only a little bit sticky. Take care not to add too much flour: you will get dry buns. Knead the dough for at least five minutes in the mixer, longer by hand. Leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place until doubled in size (30-40 min).
Turn the dough out to a floured surface. Knead again for a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Take care that the balls are completely round and uniform in size. Place on baking tray with good spacing between buns. Leave to rise for another 25-30 minutes.
Gently brush each bun with the remainder of the egg wash and bake in a hot oven (200ºC) for about 8-10 minutes or until baked through – keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and cover the tray with a lightly damp tea towel immediately – this will prevent the buns from forming a crust.
When the buns have cooled down completely, cut a ‘lid’ off the buns – about 1½ cm from the top. Scoop out about ⅓ of the inside of the bun and place crumbs in a separate bowl.
Mix the almond paste with the crumb until it forms a very sticky mass –add a dash of milk, custard or crème pâtisserie at this point to help it along. You want a spoonable, even mixture. Spoon the filling back into the buns, equally divided. Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar until stiff and use a piping bag to pipe cream on all the buns’ tops. Put the ‘lids’ back on and dust with icing sugar.