Boller med rosiner (cardamom raisin buns)

March 22, 2010 § 49 Comments

You know how some foods, with one bite or even sniff, can plunge you instantly into a different time and place, immersing you in memories and a flood of sensations beyond just the surface sensory experience of eating that food?  More than any other food, boller do that for me.  The spicy smell of cardamom as I break one open, the pillowy soft texture, the mild sweetness and the bursts of plump raisins as  I eat one, conjures up granite rocks warm from the sun under foot and the salty cold north sea splashing up into my face.  I’m a little girl, scrambling in the mountains of Norway and playing on the beach, swimming and fishing for crabs.  My mom, sitting with an ever present cup of coffee, has just called to us that she has brought boller with her, and we can have a snack if we’re hungry.

Boller are one of the most common and beloved snacks in Norway.  Kind of as chocolate chip cookies are to Americans, boller are to Norwegians.  But, given the choice between a bolle and a chocolate cookie, I’d take the bolle any day!  They are a milk based bread, so they are very soft and chewy.  They’re slightly sweet, but not overly sweet like so many American baked goods are.  And, they are lightly scented with cardamom, the most delicious spice in the whole world, so how can you go wrong?  You can find them fresh baked daily in any bakery and even any gas station.  You can also buy bags of them in the grocery store, which is very convenient for taking to the beach. (Yes, there are beaches in Norway, and as soon as it’s sunny and above 65F it’s a national duty to start tanning!)

But of course, the very best boller are the ones my mother bakes, which we would snatch, as they came out of the oven, to munch on ecstatically.  My mother has shown me a number of times how to make boller: “about yay much milk, some sugar, then you just have to add flour until it looks right…”  Mine have never turned out quite as perfect as hers, that might be an impossibility.  But, I’d say I’ve got the technique down pretty darn well at this point.

However, right now I’m working on a children’s book in which I’m including recipes, and as I began to write the recipe for boller, I realized that while “flour until it looks right” might work as a measurement when you’re showing someone what to do, it probably won’t quite cut it for a recipe in a book.  So I decided that I’d better make a batch of bolle over the weekend and try to measure the ingredients out more exactly.  A fresh batch of bolle around the house?  Well, if I must I must!  If it’s for the children.

So, here after some hard work measuring and tasting, is the resulting recipe.  In Norway, boller are pretty much always available with or without raisins.  I always make mine with raisins because I think it’s way better, and I think people who prefer them without raisins are crazy and have very poor judgment.  Of course, I’m also related to quite a few of said crazy people, so I understand that they really do exist.  Meaning, feel free to leave them out if you prefer.  On Fat Tuesday, which we’ve already passed by I’m afraid, we bake these buns, and after they’ve cooled enough we split them in half and pile sweetened vanilla whipped cream in the middles and sprinkle them with powdered sugar.  Beware if you choose to do this, you will have been introduced to the ultimate experience of gustatory delight and deliciousness of all time (in my opinion).  Your dreams may be forever populated by whipped cream and cardamom buns, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Boller med rosiner (eller uten, hvis du må)

  • 2 ½ cups warm milk (I think it’s about 100 degrees F, I usually use milk that’s nice and warm, but not too hot to leave your finger in)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cardamom
  • 5 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 egg white, for an egg wash
  1. In a large mix bowl (or standing mixer with a bread hook) mix together the warm milk, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.  Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, until the yeast is good and foamy.  Stir in the salt and cardamom.  Then stir in the flour until all incorporated (stir in the raisins at this point too).  The dough should still be a bit sticky. 
  2. Cover the bowl with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about hour (until about doubled in size).  Grease two cookie sheets. 
  3. Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a lightly flour surface, and knead it very briefly, just a minute or so.  Then, break off pieces of dough and form them into balls a bit bigger than golf balls, and place on the cookie sheets.  You should be able to make about 14.  Cover and let rise somewhere warm for another 30-45 minutes. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Before baking, brush the buns with egg white.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and if you tap one on the bottom it will sound hollow (this can be accomplished if you scoop one out with a spatula and turn it upside down in an oven-mitted hand).  (Also as a note, the boller in my picture are a little lighter than they normally are because I accidentally brushed them with whole egg, rather than egg white.) 
  5. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before you dive in.  They are also good reheated or toasted for several days.  Serve plain, or with butter, or with butter and a little Norwegian gjetost (the brown goat cheese that’s kind of a caramelly-savory flavor).  Or serve with whipped cream for special occasions, and prepare to be transported!

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§ 49 Responses to Boller med rosiner (cardamom raisin buns)

  • Caroline Bredal says:

    Yummy!! We were talking about boller when I was up in Duluth over Spring Break.. It’s been so long since I’ve had them, and especially the ones with whipped cream… oh, delicious!!!!
    Is that a picture from Fornet? It’s sweet. Makes me long for the summer to be here even more.. Hope all is well.
    Love, Caroline

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Tante Lise didn’t make any for you?! That’s terrible :).
      Yup, the picture is from Fornet – 2 years ago when we had that amazingly gorgeous summer.

  • Your blog is really lovely to read, and your photos make your foods look so appetizing! Y’know, I’m not sure if I’ve ever had foods that are distinctly Norwegian. I’d really like to try these buns, though, I just need to find some cardamom. They sound delicious.

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Thanks so much!! I really enjoy writing it – I basically go with what pops into my mind about the food I just made, and then hope that people will enjoy reading it, at least somewhat! And thanks for the compliment on my photos. I’ve been working super-duper hard to improve my food photography (like, wearing out my camera battery and filling up my memory card at least once a day!), now hopefully someday I’ll get something other than my ridiculous little, geriatric point and shoot!

  • Renu says:

    love feel good food like these! do i add in the raisins with the flour if i want them?

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Hi Renu, yes! I usually add them in kind of in the middle of mixing in the flour – somewhere between cup 3 and 5! – for whatever reason, but you could really stir them in at any point.

      • Renu says:

        Are they dried raisins that we have to presoak? Your raisins look so plump in juicy in your pictures!

      • Emily Kuross says:

        Renu, yes they are dried raisins. However, I don’t soak them unless they’re really dried out. I started with some fairly plump raisins, but even if I don’t, I find they tend to soak up some of the moisture from the dough during the rising and baking and come out nice and juicy in the end. If your raisins are completely dried out you might want to a) consider getting new raisins 🙂 or b)soak them for an hour or so in warm water or something yummy like brandy and then drain them and use them.

      • Renu says:

        Thank you so much! These are gonna be a teatime staple – simple and packed with flavour!

      • Emily Kuross says:

        Yay, I’m so glad! As we say in Norwegian “håper det smakker!” (“I hope it tastes great!”)

  • Nina says:

    I’m so excited to try this recipe. I am from Norway originally (Stavanger) and have been missing boller so much lately. It must be easter coming. 🙂

    Anyway, I cant wait to try this! I’m hungry just thinking about it.

    xo Nina

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Oh yes! I definitely find coming holidays bring on my cravings for my childhood foods like boller the very most!

  • Hege Finholt says:

    I loved eating your boller! I gave one to Matt and eat the rest myself…And your desription of bolle is awesome – you really described the truth:) I have tried to introduce bolle to friends here in the US but they don’t really get it, next time I try I will just show them this blog post…!

  • Jill says:

    Wow those look delicious! I read Nina’s entry on them also, I want to go to Norway soo bad! My favorite black metal band is from there, so I’ve been obsessed with Norway and everything about it since getting into listening to them. 😀 I’m from the US though.

    • Emily Kuross says:

      It’s a beautiful country to visit (a little expensive though!)! I highly recommend it, even if I weren’t biased.

    • Jill says:

      Oh is it? Our dollar is doing crappy in this economy and the last time I looked up the kroner (I think it’s what is used in Norway, it was worth more than the USD…) I don’t remember though.

      • Emily Kuross says:

        Yeah, it’s one of the most expensive countries in the world, at least to live in! But then the government takes care of your education and healthcare! I’m not sure what the exchange rate for the kroner is right now though, but that does make a difference.

      • Jill says:

        Ah yes government health care…we have that now too in the US. 😦 Wow according to
        one USD is 6 NOK! sheesh! 🙂

  • Evee M says:

    Hi, I just clicked over from Naturally Nina and I wanted to say I love your blog so much! Your recipies are so refreshingly down to earth. I added you to my feed reader and Im getting out the flour to make some boller!

  • […] seeing the post and recipe for these Norwegian cardamom raisin buns on Emily Kuross’s blog, Five And Spice, I really wanted to have a taste of them. So I skipped off to the grocery store in search of […]

  • I totally forgot to tell you, I tried out this recipe of yours and think that it is awesome. This is a recipe that I’ll be keeping ;]

    • Emily Kuross says:

      Yay!! That’s awesome. I kind of feel like my secret calling in life is to proselytize Norwegian food to the world (er, well, at least the good stuff; some of it, no one should have to be subjected to), so I’m always happy when someone likes a recipe!

  • george Hovland says:

    Emily, … and to think I used to think I loved
    Norway so much because there are so many
    beautiful yenta. george

    p.s. how do you stay so slender ???

  • Lynda says:

    So glad I have finally found this recipe!! thanks so much for sharing.
    I have a dilema though..I’m gluten intolerant these days!! do you know if these are successful with gluten free flour? Pls don’t say no, I’ve waited 20 yrs for this amazing recipe that no one I’ve asked has ever heard of!! 🙂
    About twenty years ago my husband and I were living here in the beautiful countryside of Tasmania and for a brief time we had lovely neighbours..he was from Israel and I’m thinking she must have been Norwegian (tall, blonde and made sweet spicy We had morning tea with them one day and she served these most memorable warm, spicy buns we had ever eaten. Her english wasn’t brilliant so I did my best to learn what I could of them but was never sure how to make them and have never been able to find a recipe that resembled them until now!! I distinctly recall the taste of cardomon and how they look and thought the name was Bolle’ Bolla or Boller!
    I’ll definately try them with the gf flour.. gotta be worth a try!


    • Emily Kuross says:

      Hi Lynda,
      What an awesome story! It does sound like she must have given you boller. I have never tried these with gluten free flour, but I would think that a good gf blend ought to work pretty well. I would guess that the texture would be somewhat different, but with the cardamom and other wonderful flavors, I’d bet you’d still get something that comes pretty close to approximating the rolls you remember. Let me know how it works out if you give it a try!

  • Lori Tinjum Johansen says:

    Hello! Great blog.

    I’m an American (half norsk!) married to a Nordmann, living in Norway during summers and Georgia, USA the rest of the year. I’ve always baked both boller and skolebrød, but haven’t done so well with either here in the States. Having trouble getting a nice, fluffy bolle using dry yeast…have always used fresh. I guess it’s hard to come by in the south, probably hard for the stores to keep it fresh. Will give this a try.

    My recipe differs a bit, and I brush milk on the boller when hot from the oven. Makes them so nice and soft! HAVE to have boller with brunost of course! We bring brunost over, but can buy it in and around Atlanta as well.

    As an American, I can tell you I’ve enjoyed boller all my life, though in the States we’ve always called them “Hot Cross Buns” and iced the tops with an “X”. The recipe is almost identical. 😀

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Thanks Lori, I hope that they work well for you if you give them a try! I’ve had pretty good luck with dry yeast, but don’t you just think the flour and butter and milk are just better in Norway?! 😉 You’re absolutely right that the dough needs to be pretty sticky – too much flour makes them tough. I have never made skolebrød myself, and I really want to, so if you have a good recipe, I’d love to know it! Also, I’m glad to hear you can get brunost down in Atlanta, shows y’all have good taste down there! 🙂

  • Lori Tinjum Johansen says:

    Oops…I should have added that the dough MUST be hard to handle. I wet my hands before working the dough. Less flour makes for a much lighter, fluffier bolle!! 😀

  • […] perhaps.  Cardamom is my all time favorite spice, and not just because it’s used frequently in Scandinavian baking (though that doesn’t hurt!).  Its warm, subtly exotic scent manages to conjure up a foreign […]

  • Kari says:

    Great recipe – made them for my Norwegian mom and she was transported back to Oslo immediately! Delicious!

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Oh, I’m so happy that your mom liked them! It’s just the best when foods take you back to old memories.

  • Cecilie says:

    Hey I searched online and found your site (: I cant wait to try them! I tried making them here before but the oven temperature when I converted it went so high it messed them up a bit. They just got so dry. Anyway, I was wondering if you have a tip on how to make them like the ones from “Santa Lusia”? I LOVE those and I would really want to make them for christmas time this year (:
    Thank you!

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      I hope this recipe works well for you! The St. Lucia buns, or lussekatter, are somewhat similar, but they are flavored with a pinch of saffron and have some egg in them. And, then you roll the pieces of dough into ropes and shape them into curly S’s. I don’t have a recipe for them on this site, but here is a potential recipe you can use that looks about like what I make when I make them:

  • […] Norway in the summers, we would pack open-faced cheese sandwiches wrapped in food-paper, a bag of boller, and a thermos of coffee, and we were set for the day.  I was explaining this type of matpakke to […]

  • […] are skolebrød.  Kind of like boller, they are an extremely classic Norwegian treat, mostly eaten by children, but there’s no […]

  • Haley says:

    These are amazing! I thought I did something wrong at first because the dough was so sticky, but they turned out really great. My whole family is addicted now. Thanks for the recipe!

  • […] The rest of the time the oven’s use was confined to roasts and braises.  If it wasn’t boller, birthday cake, or a Christmas cookie, it didn’t get baked at our […]

  • Axel Lambertz says:

    Dear Emily,

    the Boller recipe sounds great, just one question: how much is „1 Stick Butter” in grammes? In Denmark an Germany a piece of butter is usually 250 g, in Norway too?
    Best regards

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Hi Axel! In this recipe, it is a small stick of butter (I know when we’re in Norway we mostly get the large size and cut a piece off), you should use about 115 g of butter to make the boller. Hope this helps! Best, Emily

  • […] cardamom currant doughnut stuffed with coffee custard.  Time for a coffee break!  I took the bolle, a cardamom raisin bun that is ubiquitous at coffee time in Norway and playing off the coffee and a […]

  • […] scenery, and of course I got to fill up on all my favorite foods:  hotdogs with lefse, skolebrod, boller, waffles, and enough ice cream, berries, and smoked salmon to sate even the most ravenous troll (if […]

  • […] the end of the weekend we drove back down south, stopping for some delicious boller on the way. We spent the rest of the week (26 Aug – 1 Sep) staying at Mae and Tulpesh’s […]

  • Jan says:

    I am 100% Norwegian and not even the sons of norway could get this recipe right i can afford alot of hearsay about culture but the food must stay the same!

  • Sannebear says:

    This is great, Emily! My mum (born and raised in Oslo) used to make these on weekends when we would visit her. These are one of my most favorite Norwegian treats and hers will always be better than mine. I just used a basic horn recipe, with her little notes to switch it over to boller. I needed to reference when to add the raisins and found your gem of a recipe – very nearly identical to my mum’s. So, tomorrow is International Food day for my daughter’s middle school and when I suggested boller she jumped at the prospect! Might not be sweet enough for American kids, but that’s ok, because it means I can save more for my family! 🙂

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