On Tuesday I told you about Fastelavn (Danish Carnival), Fastelavnsboller (Danish Carnival buns) and how to bake your own. Today we have another carnival essential…the Fastelavnsris! (The history behind it is here.) Now you can – selvfølgelig – buy these readymade in Danish sweet shops and supermarkets. But they’re generally overpriced for what you actually get…
Because when you take it out of the plastic packaging, um, it’s pretty disappointing – a few branches and a few sweets. So why not make your own?
First you’ll need some bare branches. You can actually buy them at supermarkets…but at kr.20 a pop, that’s another expense too far [said the canny Scot]. So make do with some from your garden. Or beg, steal, borrow them from a neighbour… Secure the branches at the bottom with tape, an elastic (hair)band, wire or ribbon.
Tie on lots (and lots and lots) of little packets of slik (sweets). The more the merrier! On a side note: If you have nursery kids, they’ll often receive a Fastelavnsris as a gift. Hats off to the ‘my-word-you-need-the-patience-of-a-saint-to-make-these-for-50-children’ nursery staff at this time of year! 😉
Cut out a few shapes from coloured card and stick on. Traditional shapes are cats (remember those live cats that used to be put inside the barrels…), barrels and masks. Go mad with glue sticks and sequins… The branches should be looking quite colourful now. Add a few coloured feathers if you have them. And streamers. Whatever you have on hand and takes your fancy.
Værsgo‘! All ready to display. (You can stick it in a vase or hang it upside down.) Or go ahead and thrash surprise a small child with it this Sunday…
If you’ve walked past the window of a Danish baker’s shop recently, then you’ll already know that Fastelavn is fast approaching…
Because the first fastelavnsboller made their appearance just as soon as Christmas was over and the New Year got underway! This year it will be celebrated on Sunday (7 February 2016).
So what’s fastelavn? Danish carnival. Nothing to do with the one in Rio. I mean, honestly, would you want to dance around the cobbled streets, half-naked, peely-wally white, often in sub-zero temperatures? I think not. (Said the winter bather…) If you want the whole historical background of the Danish festival, I suggest you go google or take a peek at Wikipedia.
Here’s what I think you need to know:
It’s celebrated seven weeks before Easter Sunday (anytime from the beginning of February til late March). For small kids, it’s the highlight of the year (aside from Christmas) – it’s basically the Danish equivalent of Halloween. Kids wear fancy dress (which, for the under 6s, is invariably a superhero or something pink and princessy).
The kids make (or buy or receive) a fastelavnsris. Don’t despair if you don’t know what that is because I’ll be showing you how to make one of those in my next post!
You eat specialfastelavnsboller! Lots of them!
There are tons of parties where the kids get a chance to slåkatten af tønden (literally ‘hit the cat out of the barrel’). Schools and kindergartens devote a whole day to the celebrations. And if your child goes to scouts or football practice, there will also be a party organised there. Not to mention events organised by public libraries, museums, local businesses and supermarkets… A tønde (large barrel, similar to a piñata) is filled with sweets and fruit. Much more politically correct than filling it with live cats, as they used to do up until the early 1800s! The barrel is then strung up and the kids take it in turns to whack it with a bat.
The boy or girl who knocks out the bottom of the barrel is crowned as Kattedronningen (the Queen of the Cats). The person who smashes the very last piece of the barrel is crowned Kattekongen (the King of the Cats). A huge honour. You get to wear a little golden crown for your efforts. And be the envy of your friends for years afterwards.
But I digress! Let’s get back to those buns! We made our own fastelavnsboller last year. Check out these homemade beauties! Ready to have a go?
an 8g sachet of dry yeast (or 50g pack of fresh yeast)
100mls or 1 decilitre milk
125g butter or Kærgården
4 tablespoons of sugar
about 375g of plain flour (hvedemel) – about 625mls or 6¼ deciltres.
Mix everything together in a large bowl. It’s easiest to use a mixer (dough hook) but you can do it by hand if you want the upper arm exercise. When it all comes together, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for about 45 mins.
Meanwhile prepare the filling:
2 tablespoons sugar
200mls or 2 decilitres milk
1½ tablespoons of flour
a tablespoon of vanilla sugar
Put everything into a little saucepan and whisk over a high heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Turn down the heat, keep whisking for about 5 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
When you’re bun dough is ready, roll it out on to a floured worktop and try and get it into a large rectangle. You are aiming to cut out around 12 squares, but don’t get too perfectionist…
Bake in a preheated oven at 225c (450f) for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to get too dark. Remove from the oven and cool before topping them with some icing or a dusting of icing sugar. Though if you want to top them with a piece of pålægschokolade (piece of thin breakfast chocolate), do it while they’re still hot!
When you’re ready to eat the fastelavnsboller, cut them horizontally and put in a (very l-a-r-g-e) dollop of whipped cream…
And remember to check back here later this week when I’ll be showing you how to make the other Danish Carnival essential – the Fastelavnsris!