Back to School: Skolebrød

I am of no Norwegian or Scandinavian descent… that I know of. But, when I ran across a bunch of random recipes for skolebrød, “school bread”, while late night scrolling online, I knew I needed to make these as a back to school treat for my kiddos. And, for myself too, if I’m being honest. Just looking at the Google images will make you salivate. I obviously know this from far too much experience. lol.

From what I’ve read, these are generally described as a type of sweet bun seasoned with cardamom that began in the 1950’s as a snack packed in school lunches as a treat or as something sold at a bake sale. Hence, the reference to “school bread” or, skoleboller, “school buns”.

Nowadays, these mouth-watering buns, flaked with coconut, swathed with a sweet glaze, and filled with a generous portion of vanilla custard are a familiar, ethnic favorite. No longer just related to the school house or lunch box, these yummies are planted in bakeries, stores, coffee shops/cafes, and even gas stations in Norway!

The closest I’ve come to eating authentic Norwegian cuisine is a visit to Epcot at Disney World. How about you? From what I can recall, it was delicious, but I don’t think I ever got to taste anything baked while I was there. And cardamom certainly hasn’t been something I’ve reached for a lot in the recent past. But, everything I researched swore that it puts Norway’s baked goods on the cutting edge. So, with a little help from the lovely photos over at Alice & Astrid as well as two different attempts, I adapted & baked my own skolebrød! And, left a few without the standard toppings because of my husband’s dislike of coconut, making them what would be called solbolle, “sun buns”.

Each year it’s fun to go something a little fun and ‘extra’ for the kids when they restart and end the school year. And, I think when it’s something homemade or handmade, it really adds to the feeling of care, concern, and reward the kids sense coming from me. I hope they always remember memories like me making diverse, traditional dishes for them and recreate the experience for themselves and their own children.

But, before I get too emotional and start talking about how kids grow up too fast and how quickly time is bypassing me, let’s get to the recipe!

Skolebrød (Norwegian sweet buns with custard and coconut)

Makes 10-12

Bun Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 8.5g of dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces

Vanilla Custard:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (add 1-2 drop of vanilla extract and beat into the sugar)
  • 2 egg yolks beaten

Glaze & Assembly:

  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon fresh juice
  • 1 ½ cups of shredded coconut

Instructions:

  1. Start by gently warming the milk, whether on the stove or in the microwave. Either way, you want it just a little more than lukewarm.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook. Then, add the warm milk and egg.
  3. Mix on low for about 8 minutes without stopping.
  4. Stop the mixer and add the butter to the dough. Turn the mixer on to medium speed for 5 more minutes. The dough will be very elastic and kind of ‘wet’.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. While the dough is rising, you can begin making the custard. Using a double boiler (or in my case, a glass bowl and a saucepan), place the milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Add in the flour a little at a time and whisk it in. Stir often with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps.
  7. Bring to a light boil while continuing to stir, until the mixture thickens.
  8. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Allow the custard to cool to room temperature.
  9. When the dough has finished rising, take it out and place it on a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a large log and cut it into 10-12 pieces. Roll each piece into a round bun and place half of the buns on one prepared baking sheet and the other half on another prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each. Cover each sheet with a towel and let the buns rise for another 30 minutes.
  10. While the buns are proving, make the glaze. 
  11. Preheat the oven to 450°F. When the buns are ready, make a nice indentation in the center of each. I like to use my pestle (from my pestle and mortar), but you can use a spoon or anything else that will work. Make sure to press down all the way!
  12. Fill each with about 2 Tablespoons of the prepared custard. Brush the sides of each bun with the lightly beaten egg.
  13. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Repeat for the second batch. Allow the buns to cool completely.
  14. When the buns have cooled, take the glaze and place it around the center. Immediately pressed into the coconut and turn until the glaze is completely covered by coconut.

Serve and eat up! I have read that these will last in an airtight container (preferably in the fridge) for 2-3 days, but that fresh baked is really the way to enjoy them!

I had mixed reviews from my family on this one, but the process was a lot of fun!

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