June 19, 2018 | Leave a comment
Midsummer in Scandinavia
June 19, 2018 | Leave a comment
Midsummer in Scandinavia
June 1, 2018 | 1 Comment
Seven things about Nordic Midsummer
The longest day of the year is very important to us Northern people. We have light! And not only that, we have so much of it we hardly see dark and we get to make up for all of those months of candle lit cosiness and snow.
We all celebrate the day slightly differently, so here are a few facts to get you started in the preparations.
Sweden treats Midsummer like it’s national day. Actually, Sweden’s national day is a few weeks earlier, but everybody celebrates Midsummer instead. It’s always celebrated on the closest Friday (this year, 22nd June) and it’s a public holiday.
In London, it’s celebrated on the Saturday because we need to not be at work when we do it – this year the 23rd of June.
In Denmark and Norway the evening is celebrated on the actual day (23rd June, no matter if it’s a Friday or not) and there, it’s called St John’s Eve as well as Midsommer Aften – Sankthans or Sankthansaften. In Finland it is commonly known as Juhannus or also Midsommar.
Sweden and Finland celebrate with Midsummer poles. These are a bit like May Poles, except it’s not May and ours have a lot of fertility symbols associated with them. The Midsummer poles are covered in flowers and greenery. Everybody wears flower garlands in their hair and very summery clothes. Some Swedish people try the yellow/blue flag combo for clothes, but it is rarely a good look. You’ll also see little flags on the table – adding to the festive feeling.
Danes burn witches on Midsummer eve. Much like the British burn Guy Fawkes, the Danes like to burn witches on this evening and send them off to Blue Mountain in Germany to dance with the devil. All while the (usually stuffed hay effigy) witches are burning on the bonfire, Danes sing songs about how much they love Denmark (usually a lone guy on a guitar will lead the singing – he always sings with his eyes closed and is very serious).
It’s still all about food. For the Swedes, it is all about the day long picnic and being outside. Meatballs are featured and it is high season for Sandwich cakes, too. The Danes tend to celebrate in the evening with dinner at home, but spend the evening trying to bake stick bread on the embers of the bon fire (it never works), and in Norway people will either have a picnic on the fjord (in a boat or on the beach) or have hot dogs around the bonfire. (For a classic midsummer picnic, you can check out our midsummer selection here.) In Finland Midsummer often marks the beginning of the summer holidays – so many Finns celebrate in their summer house by a lake, perhaps sipping a few Lonkero whilst soaking up the midnight sun.. aaand relax.
What about the little frogs? The Swedes, at every given opportunity but none more so than Midsummer, will sing songs about little frogs with no ears and no tails, whilst jumping around the Midsummer pole. Old, young, everyone. It’s a thing and it looks odd – but it is super fun. Do join in.
Swedes and Norwegians pick seven wild flowers on Midsummer eve and put them under their pillow. They will dream of the person they will marry. Some don’t even wait that long, as the birth rate spikes in Sweden every year exactly nine months after Midsummer.
There are Midsummer events held all over the UK – both Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian. Local churches are a good place to start for information on where to go.
There is no big official London picnic (there never is – it’s all a bit spontaneous) but people tend to gather in patches in the different parks and just bring a picnic. Ask local Scandies for details or just wander around and look for the people with flowers in their hair. You’ll find them.
May 24, 2018 | Leave a comment
Ever wondered where to start with brown cheese? Scared of the taste, the colour, or even the texture? It is loved by Norwegians everywhere and gaining popularity elsewhere too. The distinctive tangy-sweet taste is quite unique – we think you’ll like it too.
In Norway there are many more varieties – but these are the most popular ones. From sweet and tangy caramore to the rounder, milder ‘gudbrandsdalen’ and the rich and tangy ‘ekte geitost’ – they are all delicious on freshly baked goods! Here are just some of our favourites.
Caramore – on waffles or pancakes. With a little jam. Sweet and delicious with a nice tang.
Gudbrandsdalen – on still warm croissants with a bit of jam. Croissants are about as Norwegian as marmite, but it really works.
Ekte Geitost – on freshly made buns (again with a little jam or honey). Try them on cinnamon buns, halved then toasted and buttered.
Do you eat it differently? Let us know in the comments!
May 22, 2018 | Leave a comment
Smash & Kvikklunsj Brownies
For Norway Day in Southwark Park this year, Bronte made a batch of brownies and stuffed them with the most delicious – and iconic – Norwegian chocolates.
The base recipe is the same, so just amend the filling.
It also works as a SMIL chocolate brownie (add Smil and salted caramel topping), Firkløver brownie (add more hazelnuts) – and pretty much anything you can think of trying. It’s the most versatile brownie base recipe, ever.
If you prefer a very sticky under baked brownie, use even less baking powder. But we find that just one teaspoon helps a bit.
Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water – or in the microwave. Set aside to cool a little.
Whisk the egg and sugar, then slowly add the melted chocolate mixture.
Add 1/3 of the fillings to the mixture, then pour into the prepared tin. Add the rest of the filling on top (except the toffee sauce – and hold back a few marshmallows/chocolate too for decorating before serving).
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the side comes out clean – the middle can still be gooey but it should not wobble when you shake the pan. Leave to cool, then drizzle toffee sauce and the extra topping, cut into squares to serve.
Remember Bronte’s mantra: Ovens are not created equal and baking times always vary. Check your bakes.
May 14, 2018 | Leave a comment
17th of May is a special day. Also known as ‘Norway Day’ it is the day the Norwegian constitution was signed – and thanks to Norway’s history of being ruled by big brothers Sweden and Denmark, the celebrations for this important step towards autonomy has been celebrated greatly since*. Anyone who has been to Norway for the day can attest to this – there are great big parades, double digit repetitions of the national anthem, so much flag waving you would get tennis elbow if you’re not careful and naturally a champagne breakfast to kick it all off. It is also a national holiday – lovely!
For some reason it is not recognised as such elsewhere so the celebrations tend to be slightly dulled – but that doesn’t mean you can’t drape yourself in red white and blue or wear your bunad to work (it just means most people will have no clue why you are dressed so peculiarly).
So, dear Nordmenn – Norwegians – abroad, this is for you. A little how to celebrate if you’re stuck far away from the land of brown cheese and tall blonde people.
Host your own:
Breakfast or brunch. On the day the traditional choice – but we don’t think anyone would mind if you move it to, say, the nearest Saturday so you can take your time and not rush off to work (or feel guilty for being late).
The traditional brunch is for many a big buffet table of everything nice – scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, charcuterie (Norwegian fenalår being the prime choice), fresh fruit and veggies, cheeses, a cake, strawberries, fruit juice and champagne. For example. Both fenalår, cheeses and salmon are things we supply – so do pop by or get your order in online in time for brunch (last orders for next day delivery is 1pm – choose next day delivery at checkout).
Join the official celebrations:
In London? Join us in Southwark Park where the official celebration kicks off around 10am when we start serving our brunch platter. Fresh bread rolls, scrambled egg, salmon, cheeses, ham, freshly cut strawberries and a glass of bubbly or orange juice – a lovely start to the day which will continue with a parade, speeches and entertainment (just like in Norway). There will also be a bar serving drinks, coffee and cake, hot dogs and treats, ice cream and other goodies available during the day. All Norwegian, of course!
The brunch is pre-booking only – tickets can be found here.
Head to our café for hot dogs, solo, waffles & Bløtekake:
Our café is open as usual from 8am to 7pm and will be focusing a little extra on Norwegians in addition to our regular offering of lots of freshly made open sandwiches, salads, cakes and drinks –
Expect A-ha in the background and a lot of ‘Gratulerer med dagen’ – we look forward to seeing you.
May 10, 2018 | Leave a comment
‘Bløtekake’ (also ‘Bløtkake’) literally means soft cake – and is Norway’s version of a Victoria sponge. The difference is that a Bløtekake is lighter – as it is traditionally made with a fat free sponge, ie. a type of Genoise sponge.
Layered with seasonal berries or fruit and whipped cream it is a traditional celebration cake in Norway – enjoyed for any occasion from birthdays to weddings, anniversaries and leaving parties. Easy to tweak to your preferences and great to look at. Ticks all the boxes in our book! You can use any sponge cake recipe you like – this is the one Martina’s Norwegian mormor (maternal grandmother) has been using forever. The mix of regular flour and potato flour makes for an extra tender crumb.
You will need for the cake:
For the filling / assembly:
Whisk eggs and sugar until pale, light and fluffy – we recommend a hand mixer for this – 5-10 minutes. Mix your flours and baking powder and sift into the egg mixture, then fold carefully to combine. Try not to lose the volume you got from the frantic whisking.
Pour into a well buttered cake mould with loose base covered in baking parchment.
Bake at 190-200 degrees for 30 minutes until cooked through. Leave to cool for 10 minuted before removing the mould. Let cool completely before using.
Slice your cake into two or three layers using a long serrated knife (or whatever works for you – just be careful to do it evenly all the way through). Splash each layer with a few tablespoonfuls of milk or orange juice to keep them moist and lovely.
Whip your cream with the vanilla sugar until soft peaks form – then, using manual labour, whip it for another 10-20 seconds until stiff enough to hold its shape. It is easy to overdo it with a mixer so we like using doing it by hand to finish. Rinse and prepare your fruit / berries and have ready in a bowl.
Place your bottom layer on your serving platter / cake stand and place strips of parchment paper all the way around, covering the plate. With a spatula, spread 1/4 of the whipped cream evenly across the cake (1/3 if only two layers). If using jam, dollop this evenly across the cream. Spread 1/3 of your fruit/berries over the top in an even layer. Repeat with the next layer, if your cake is 3 layers. If only two layers, proceed to the next step.
Place your final layer on top of the cream/jam/berry and try to align it neatly so it is not leaning that way or the other. Cover the top of the cake with the rest of the cream – covering the sides if you like. Arrange the remaining fresh fruit / berries across the top any way you like. Any extra ones can be dotted around the serving plate. When you have finished with the cream and berries, carefully remove the parchment paper to reveal the clean plate.
Best eaten immediately.
April 18, 2018 | Leave a comment
March 22, 2018 | Leave a comment
7 random facts about Easter in Scandinavia
March 16, 2018 | Leave a comment
Solskinnsboller – Norwegian Custard Cinnamon Swirls
Of all the things to come out of Norway (brown cheese, knitted jumpers, a dabbing prince), these ‘Solskinnsboller’ buns must be amongst the tastiest. Don’t need another bun recipe? Listen. We think you do. These are named sunshine buns because they have the same effect – they make you happy. Buttery, soft cinnamon swirls with a gooey vanilla custard centre. Cinnamon buns = good. Custard = good. These buns? Criminal.
You will need:
Quick and easy vanilla custard cream
Method: In a medium size saucepan, heat the milk until steaming (do not let it boil). Remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, corn flour, sugar and vanilla until a thick paste. Whilst whisking, pour a little of the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture until combined. Continue adding the hot milk slowly until everything is combined. Return to the saucepan and let simmer over medium heat until thickened – whisk continuously to avoid lumps forming. Once thickened (you should be able to make soft blobs that don’t disappear immediately – it will thicken more when it cools) pour into a bowl and place clingfilm directly onto the top of the custard. This avoids a skin forming. Leave to cool completely – the fridge quickens this step.
Assembling the buns:
Make you cinnamon buns as normal and leave under a tea towel for 25-30 mins to rise a bit more. Place your creme patisserie in a piping bag or plastic bag.
Now, you need to make an indent in each bun to fit the creme pat in – press down in the middle with your finger (or something measuring about 2cm diameter) until you have even indents in every bun. Pipe a small amount of custard into each hollow. Don’t be tempted to use too much – it will just get messy (but still tasty). 1-2 tsp should be enough.
Bake at 220 degrees celsius for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
February 8, 2018 | Leave a comment
Morsdag – Norwegian Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries – but only Norway celebrates it the second Sunday in February which this year falls on the 11th. Mother’s Day was celebrated the first time in 1908 following an initiative from Anna Marie Jarvis who wanted to honour her mother for her work during the American civil war. The celebration became official in 1913, and set to fall on the second Sunday in May which is the day most countries observe it.
There is little evidence as to why they in Norway moved it to February – but it is likely linked to the many official holidays already observed in May; May 1st, May 17th, Christ Ascension day and Pentecost which can both fall in May. With any luck, you will have 4 additional days of during May if they all fall during the week.
Regardless of when it is celebrated, a special day to treat your Mamma should be acknowledged – in Norway you’ll often see cards, breakfast in bed or a present of some sort. Many people also see it as an excuse to get together for some family time – but whatever you do, just make sure to give your mamma a teeny bit of extra attention. If you are lucky enough to be spending the day with her you might want to mark the occasion with a little treat? This year it coincides with Fastlavn Sunday (the Norwegian equivalent to Shrove Tuesday and when most people eat their buns) so a given suggestion is the Norwegian jam semla – but we have listed a few other options for you in case you know some weirdo who doesn’t like these.
Picture credit: Peter Cassidy for Ryland Peters & Small / ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge