Vanilla custard filled buns or Skolleboller literally translates into School Buns. Funny name, isn’t it? But what’s in a name? Read on! In the western parts of Norway these pastries are known as Skolleboller, while in the eastern parts of the country they are called Skollebrot (school bread). So, what does this pastry have to do with school? According to the girl at the Epcot Norway Pavilion, these were invented back in the 1950’s as a hearty snack for children to take to school. They are indeed a hearty treat!
I first tried these a few years ago at the Norway Pavillion at Epcot Center. I was on vacation with friends; one of them decided to have a mid morning snack, much to his wife’s dismay. As soon as he took a bite, these were his exact words were “If they would have had bread like this when I was in school, perhaps I wouldn’t have skipped school so much.” Yes, this is exactly what he said. Such a joker!
In Norway, skolleboller are popular just about anywhere: pastry shops, schools, senior centers, ferry boat kiosks, and supermarkets. Scandinavian pastries are amazing. I have been the recipient of many a sample, from my friend Harriet who makes amazing desserts and also from my sister in law who is of Swedish heritage.
Typical of Scandinavian pastries the dough for skolleboller is flavored with cardamom, a spice native to India. Cardamom has a strong delicate flavor which is complex and refreshing, almost reminiscent of eucalyptus. Cardamom is also one of the three most expensive spices, second only to saffron. Besides its use in many pastries, cardamom is also used in curries, chicken, meat dishes, lentils and of course Turkish coffee. It is always best to grind your own if you are able to because the flavor is more pronounced. At home I have an old coffee grinder which is now used for the sole purpose of grinding spices.
Skolleboller is filled with a delicious vanilla-flavored pastry cream. After it is baked, the bun is glazed with sugar icing and then dusted with coconut flakes. It goes great with a steaming cup of hot coffee or tea, whatever your preference is. To say that skolleboller is heavy is definitely an understatement. This pastry is so rich that if you decide to skip lunch, it can certainly take its place. Once you sink your teeth into one of these, you’ll know exactly what I mean. This recipe was adapted from Edward Gee’s fantastic book titled Bake.
Vanilla Custard Filled Buns: Skolleboller
Norwegian skolleboller buns: A sweet pastry with a rich vanilla custard filling in the middle topped with coconut and sugar glaze. Yummy!
- 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
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon fresh juice
- To make the buns: Mix the butter, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, cardamom and flour.
- On a lightly floured surface knead to form a ball. Cover and let it rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 425'F.
- Divide the ball of dough into 12 equal parts.
- Using your thumb punch down a hollow in each ball.
- To make the vanilla custard: Using a double boiler, place the milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Slowly add in the flour. stirring often to mix well, this will prevent clumps from forming.
- Bring to a light boil while mixing, and until the mixture is thickened.
- Remove from heat and place in a bowl to allow the custard to cool.
- Spoon custard into the hollow of each ball.
- Place dough balls on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Bake for about 15 minutes.
- Place on a wire rack to cool.
- To make the icing: mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar together*.
- Drizzle over the baked buns. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.
- *you might have to adjust the amount of lemon juice to create a thick consistency that will allow you to drizzle properly.