As many readers of my blog know, I lived in Norway for a time. I don’t read many blogs where Norwegian culinary achievements are discussed, but I think that is kind of sad, because Norwegian food is very good, and quite varied. There is of course a lot of seafood and a meal wouldn’t be a meal without potatoes. But there are also a lot of lovely fresh tasting meals, and I usually cook up something with Scandinavian flair for Midsummer.
Of course, one of the shining glories of Norwegian fare are the baked goods.
Skoleboller is one of those pastries that you can get at any bakery in Norway – even the grocery store, convenience stores, train and ferry kiosks and of course coffee shops. The name literally means “School Buns” and are a very popular snack for school children, but because of its portability you often take them cross country skiing or on hikes. Sometimes you will just enjoy them with coffee. I ate them a lot when I lived in Norway because I am a huge sucker for custard and coconut, which are the flavors that go into these buns. Oh yeah, and cardamom, which is one of my all time favorite spices – and cardamom is a favorite spice among Norwegian baked goods. Basically Skoleboller are cardamom infused sweet buns (sort of like a Danish, but not exactly) and filled with vanilla custard, topped with coconut and a confectioner’s sugar glaze.
Despite the fact that I enjoyed Skoleboller very often when I lived in Norway, 15 years later, I had almost forgotten about them, that is until I came across the blog Transplanted Baker. *note* Unfortunately, since I wrote this post, Siri’s blog was mistakenly removed from the net She is currently working on a new site that will be up soon!
Now Transplanted Baker is written by Siri who is a native of Minnesota, but lives in Norway with her Norwegian husband and children who cooks up Norwegian favorites as well as developing some of her own original baked goods. This is an awesome blog and I love reading it because it makes me very nostalgic, even though she lives in a different part of Norway than I did, and here are two official forms of written Norwegian…and writes in Nynorsk on her blog, a different official written language than the one I learned when I lived there.
So onto the Skoleboller. I decided to take a Saturday and make these buns. There are several steps, but please do not let that discourage you – they are all fairly easy to accomplish and believe me, these buns are well worth it. I made the dough for the buns first and while it was rising I made the custard.
Here is a note on the custard. I am kind of an egg freak – I eat a lot of eggs, and because of this it is important to me that they are of good quality. This means that the hens live a life a hen should live. I am not going to get into it more than that, but the quality of these eggs are clear. I mean look at the color of the yolks here, beautiful, sunny, deep yellow – and the taste is far superior to your run of the mill (quite literally) eggs. So if you are going to make a dish where the cornerstone is eggs, you might as well use the best available to make your dish all the better tasting.
Anyway, back to Skoleboller. Siri had good advice, she said you can make 12 regular sized Skoleboller or 24 smaller, weight watchers sized buns. So I decided to make the latter. I followed her recipe exactly, except that I embellished a little.
Instead of using a confectioner’s sugar glaze, I decided to use some of the creamed honeys that I had from Honey Ridge Farms.
I also added some nutella (as well as the custard) to a few, and on some I placed a fresh blackberry in the center before popping them in the oven to bake. All varieties turned out really good and by making 24, I had enough to eat, freeze and give out. So I would suggest making them that way – plus less guilt!
by Transplanted Baker
Recipe makes about 14- 6” buns or 24- 4” buns
(recipe can easily be halved)
For the buns:
2 cups (5 dl) milk (preferably full-fat, but 1% or 2% will work too), luke warm
2 oz. (50 grams) Fresh yeast, or 2 T. active dry yeast
1/2 cup (100 grams) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup (1 dl) sugar
1 1/2 t. cardamom
6 – 7 cups (650- 750 grams) All-Purpose flour
For the vanilla custard:
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/ dl) sugar
1 3/4 cups (4 dl) full-fat milk
1 t. vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
1 T. cornstarch
For the sugar glaze and topping:
1 cup (100 grams) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 t. water
+ desiccated coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) for topping
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the luke warm milk. Add the melted (and cooled) butter, the sugar, cardamom, and 5 cups (550 grams) of the flour. Blend well.
2. Slowly add more flour until a smooth, slightly sticky dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead for a minute or two until a soft dough is formed. Add another tablespoon or two of flour, if needed to prevent sticking.
3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and allow to rise to double its’ size, about 1 hour.
This would be a good time to make your vanilla custard (ingredients above and instructions below):
4. Punch the dough down, divide into small balls (12-14 will make the traditional, large skoleboller, while 22-24 will make nice, Weight Watchers portions).
5. Form each ball into an evenly round, flat bun. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray with at least an inch between each one. Cover with a clean dishcloth and allow to make a second rise for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, preheat oven to 400F (200C).
6. After the 20 minute rising period is up, use the back of a spoon to create a good-sized indentation in the center of each bun (about the size of a soup spoon).
7. Place a generous spoonful of the egg custard in the center of each indentation. Bake on the bottom rack for 10-12 minutes. Take your skoleboller out when they begin to slightly brown on the tops and the egg custard is just starting to set.
8. Allow to cool on a wire rack. The vanilla custard will set a bit once cooled down. Once cooled, you can drizzle your confectioner’s sugar glaze – simply whisk the powdered sugar and water together. The glaze should be white, not translucent, and should be able to drizzle but not run, add more sugar or water, accordingly).
9. Once glazed, dip your buns into a bowl or plate full of the desiccated coconut and swirl around a bit until all of the glaze is sufficiently covered with the coconut- careful not to destroy your custard centers.
10. Serve with coffee and milk at home, at school, at the office, at social hour, at a birthday party, on a picnic, on a hike, or anywhere else that seems fit.
To make the vanilla custard:
1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together very well.
2. Bring the whole milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Slowly pour the egg yolk mixture into the milk, whisking briskly. Add the vanilla.
3. While your egg and milk mixture is still simmering, add the cornstarch, little-by-little, whisking briskly. Allow the cornstarch to fully dissolve and the custard to thicken while stirring the entire time. It will take about 3- 5 minutes for the custard to thicken enough.
4. Allow to cool on a ice water bath.