It’s not difficult to see just how important bread plays a role in Norway. The Nordic food culture is built upon grains and the varieties of bread types have an historic thread throughout the region.
The most usual practice was to mix a variety of grains for daily bread or porridges. These grains would have been course and unrefined – with refined flours only entering the diet in the 1900s. The most common cereals would have been rye, barley and oat. Wheat and wheat flour were viewed as luxury (high society) items, but they eventually became common for all classes of society in the late 1800s.
The concept of a ‘packed lunch’ began in Oslo in the 20th century, which is referred to as Oslofrokosten (the Oslo Breakfast). The head of school health, Carl Schiøtz, viewed whole wheat bread, milk and raw fruits and vegetables as a healthy meal for children in Oslo. It was usual before this that children would eat hot meals in school, but the issue was that many poor parents were not able to afford this offer. Bread, with a variety of toppings, seemed like a healthy substitute for all the children that parents could afford.
With the economic situation in Norway, it was not possible for all schools to offer the Oslo Breakfast. In 1936, the district of Sigdal introduced bringing food from home and this was the first time the concept of packed lunches for schools began in Norway. As the decades progressed, so did the models of school lunches and which foods the schools would provide (milk, fruit and vegetables) and which ones would come from the home (sandwiches).
It is still common to eat a bread variety for both breakfast and lunch. Rundstykker are rolls made with various grains and cereals and can be topped with seeds or nuts or left plain. They are served open-faced and the toppings can be whatever one fancies from sweet to savory.
Crusty Rolls with Oats (Rundstykker med Havregryn)
(Makes 20 rolls)
- 3 ¼ cups (500g) white flour
- 3 cups (400g) fine, whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup (80g) oats
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 4 tsp dry, active yeast or 50g fresh yeast
- 2 ½ cups (6dl) warm tap water
Place everything a large bowl, or food mixer, ensuring the salt and yeast are not touching. If using fresh yeast, crumble it over the other ingredients. Add the warm water and mix. If using a food mixer, knead the dough for 8 minutes. If kneading by hand, place the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour until doubled.
Divide the dough into 20 portions and roll out into balls. Place on a prepared baking sheet and let rise, covered, for 30-45 minutes. Brush each roll lightly with water (or egg whites) and sprinkle oats over them.
Heat the oven to 225°C /425°F and bake the rolls for 20 minutes.
Let them cool and enjoy with your choice of toppings.