Norwegian Christmas Baking Recipes

Emma Whittaker

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Are you interested in trying some new recipes this Christmas season, either for yourself or to impress other people? Then this is an article for you. Below you will find three separate traditional recipes that are made in  Norway during the month of December. They are fairly easy to make and highly recommended.

The first recipe is for a type of sweet bread called “Lussekatter“. This recipe is actually connected to a certain day, which would be “Luciadagen” on the 13th of December and there’s a lot of history behind it. The celebration originates from the Catholic and  Orthodox Church as a commemoration of the Sicilian martyr,  Saint Lucia. Lucia was born in Sicily in the 280s. It’s unsure what exactly happened to her, but it is said that her mother became terribly sick and Lucia prayed to God for her survival. Lucia also spent all the money her mother had given her to get married with, on gifts for the poor people in her city. The governor did not like Christianity and ordered for her to be killed when he found out she was spreading the word about it. She was killed around the year 300 after several attempts, as legend has it that fire didn’t burn her. She then became a  Saint after her death.

When this celebration first came to Norway it was mixed with older beliefs and connections to  Lucifer, the Devil. According to the Julian Calendar, the 13th of December is the longest night of the year and this meant that people had to be ready for Christmas, or mythical creatures could vandalise your property. Lucia is strongly celebrated in Sweden today and the tradition has spread to Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. In Norway it’s celebrated in schools, old people’s homes and other organisations and groups. It is mainly children who dress up in white dresses carrying a candle, whilst one of them will be “ Lucia” wearing a plastic crown of candles. They also sing the “Lucia song” and serve “Lussekatter”.

Luciadagen- Image Credit: Jon Åslund
Luciadagen- Image Credit: Jon Åslund

There is a theory that the tradition of “Lussekatter” comes from  Germany from around the 1600s. The Devil in the shape of a cat supposedly beat the naughty children and a Christ-like child rewarded the good children with sweet buns. The bread is dyed yellow from the spice  saffron, to apparently represent light to keep the Devil away.

Lussekatter- Image Credit: Emma-Marie B. Whittaker
Lussekatter- Image Credit: Emma-Marie B. Whittaker

The celebration of “Luciadagen” found its way to Sweden at the end of the 1800s and then later to the rest of the Nordic countries.

Lussekatter

Ingredients:

150g Butter

5dl Whole Milk

7g Dry Yeast (One Sachet)

1g Saffron (can be replaced by turmeric)

150g Sugar

½ts salt

2ts Cardamom

13dl Flour

1 egg

A few Raisins

(Makes about 20)

How To:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
  •  Melt the butter and add the milk. Make sure this mixture is lukewarm and pour it over the dry yeast.
  • Mix in the sugar, salt, cardamom, saffron (this can be replaced with turmeric to achieve the yellow tint) and flour. When you have a dough, leave it under a towel or some clingfilm to rise for about 30-60 minutes.
  • Sprinkle some flour on a surface and knead the dough. Split the dough into smaller pieces and roll them into sausage shapes.
  • Create any shapes you would like or stick to the traditional shape. Then put them on a greaseproof paper lined tray to rise for a second time.
  • After about 20 minutes, give them an egg wash and decorate them with one or two raisins each. Then bake them in the middle of the oven for 5-8 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius, until they are golden brown.

As you can see, the Nordic countries have a “food-connection” and another recipe that is popular is “Havreflarn”. These can actually be bought from IKEA, when you’re outside of Scandinavia, but why buy them when they’re so simple to make? It’s a very quick recipe to make and it requires very few ingredients.

Havreflarn

Havreflarn- Image Credit: Emma-Marie B. Whittaker
Havreflarn- Image Credit: Emma-Marie B. Whittaker

Ingredients:

75g Butter

100g Oats

1 Egg

125g Sugar

1ts Baking Powder

100g Dark Chocolate (optional)

How To:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Melt the butter in a pan and pour it over the oats.
  • Whisk egg and sugar together into a thick mixture. Sprinkle the baking powder over the mixture, then add the oat and butter mixture. Combine it all together into a batter.
  •  Use a teaspoon to put little blobs of the mixture on a pan lined with greaseproof paper. Make sure that the blobs are small with plenty of space between them, as they will expand in the oven.
  • Bake them in the middle of the oven for about 5-6 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. You must keep an eye on them as they burn easily and when they are golden brown at the edges, they are ready.
  •  When they are cool you can melt some dark chocolate and sandwich them together, or enjoy them as they are. It’s up to you.

The last recipe is for “Berits Brune Pinner”, which basically means Berit’s Brown Sticks. They also go by the name of just Brown Sticks. These are a simple yet tasty biscuit that are perfect for dunking in a hot beverage. The smell of Christmas will fill your kitchen when these are baking in the oven.

Berits Brune Pinner

Berits Brune Pinner- Image Credit: Emma-Marie B. Whittaker
Berits Brune Pinner- Image Credit: Emma-Marie B. Whittaker

Ingredients:

200g Room Temperature Butter

200g Sugar

1 Egg Yolk

1tbsp Golden Syrup

½ts Cinnamon

1ts Vanilla Essence

1ts Baking Soda

300g Flour

Topping:
– 1 Egg

-1dl Chopped Almonds

-1dl Pearl Sugar

How To:

  • Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  • Mix the room temperature butter and the sugar together. When it’s white and fluffy, add the golden syrup, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla essence, egg yolk and flour.
  • Knead the dough and split it into six separate portions. Roll these into long sausage shapes and press them flat on a greaseproof paper lined tray.
  • Egg wash the dough and sprinkle almonds and sugar all over it.
  •  Bake the biscuits in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius. When you take them out of the oven slice them into diagonal sticks while they’re still warm, then let them cool down before eating.

All that’s left to say is merry Christmas, or as the Norwegians say, “God Jul”.

Would you like to try any of these recipes?

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Emma Whittaker

  • Sadbh Maguire

    Great Article, i must try out the recipes over christmas 🙂

    • Emma Whittaker

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Emma Whittaker

    Tusen takk Marita <3

  • Hannah Collins

    They all look delicious! I’ll definitely be trying the Lussekatter!!

    • Emma Whittaker

      Thank you! And they are worth it haha!

  • Sunniva Batalden

    Aaah! Vil hjem til jul nå altså! Herlig <3

  • These look so great! I wanted to bake something for my flatmates, I think I’ll take one of your recipes!