Skolebrød

Skolebrød is a Norwegian style sweet bun whose name translates to “school bread.” It’s made in a way very similar to typical bread-baking, and is filled with custard and topped with icing and grated coconut. This recipe is one translated from Norwegian that was actually written by a Norwegian bakery. So while it is an authentic one, I’m still working on getting everything straight after the rough translation. This means that the recipe asked for everything to be measured out in grams with a scale. Personally, I prefer this because it makes the recipe more precise. So in the recipe for the dough, I will include both the given amount in grams and a rough translation to the cups/teaspoons measurements.

I’ll give you the recipe in two parts. In my opinion, the first thing you should do is make the custard for the filling. The amount the recipe I used will make is probably more than enough to fill all 12 skolebrød. I had to make mine a day early, but it preserved itself just fine in the fridge overnight, which actually made everything a lot easier the day of. The custard recipe is derived from one by my friend’s mother, who is Norwegian herself- I really like it because it doesn’t include any cornstarch or really processed thickening ingredients. Every ingredient is simple, and the process is an easy one. Takk, Astrid!

Secondly, the dough is a pretty large recipe. I started by making half of it and got six really large skolebrød from it. Six of these just barely fit nicely on a large baking sheet. So if you plan to bake all 12, you’ll probably find it best to bake them in separate batches. If you have a convection function in your oven then you can put two trays in at once pretty safely, but I would rotate the trays after five minutes (halfway through) just to be safe.

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I was skeptical about how much this dough would rise, but they got much thicker in the oven, and expanded to be almost touching each other! Let me know how yours turns out if you make them, I would be interested to see if everyone gets theirs rising so much!

Now, let’s get on with the recipe.

Custard Filling:

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3-4 teaspoons vanilla (I’ll leave it up to your personal taste)

Method

  1. In a medium pan, stir the sugar and flour together, then add the egg yolks and mix until evenly combined.
  2. Stir in all the milk and vanilla. Once it’s all mixed together, slowly bring it to a boil on a low heat. This can take a while, but the slow and steady approach will give you the best consistency in the end! Let it get up to a very slow boil, making sure you stir frequently. The custard will start to condense while boiling, and you can stop heating it when it’s thick enough that it springs back into place a bit when shaken.
  3. During the cooling, stir occasionally to get rid of the film that will form on the surface. If you’re noticing clumps, stir vigorously- give it all you got! If that doesn’t work, try adding a bit more milk and heating it up again after a good mix.

Skolebrød:
(Makes 12 large skolebrød)

Baking temperature: 220°C (425°F)
Bake time: 10-14 minutes

Ingredients

  • 800g flour (6 1/3 cups)
  • 1 egg
  • 500 mL milk (2.1 cups, but your measure might have mL units anyway)
  • 125g sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 12 g  salt (2 teaspoons)
  • 35 g yeast (1 1/4 ounces)
  • 115g unsalted butter (one stick)
  • Melted butter or egg for brushing (optional)
  • Coconut shavings to add as topping later

Optional topping

  • I sometimes like to add berries into the custard. My preference lies with a mix of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

Method

  1. Take eggs, milk and butter out of the refrigerator in advance to make it room temperature. If you’re impatient, give the milk a quick heat in the microwave for just under a minute. Cut the butter into cubes.
    Note: Keep in mind that salted butter gives naturally saltier pastries. Take that into account when measuring the salt, or use unsalted butter. Fats and oils, like the butter, are added towards the end of the kneading process to avoid damaging the gluten network.
  2. Mix everything aside from milk and butter in a kneading bowl. Using a spoon works just fine to start the dough. While mixing, slowly add milk about 1/10 of the milk or less at a time. Once all the milk is added, if you’re using a mixer, knead at medium speed for five minutes. Otherwise, move it from the bowl onto a floured surface, and knead by hand until the dough has a smooth, soft surface, and is no longer sticky.
  3. Now we can mix in the butter. The smaller the pieces are the better, but don’t fret about it too much. Use the lowest speed on your kneader when you mix in the butter cubes. If you don’t have a mixer, you and I are both in the same boat- prepare to be patient. The kneading is finished when the butter is completely incorporated into the dough.
  4. Once the butter is kneaded evenly into the dough (so you can’t find any clumps at all), put just a tiny bit of oil into a large bowl to grease the sides, and put your dough on in there. Roll the dough around the bowl to get a light coating of the oil on it, and cover with plastic film. In a warm and draft-free location, let the dough rise 1 hour.
  5. Once the dough has risen, divide it into pieces of about 130g each. Or just eyeball about 12 even pieces, since this recipe makes a dozen. You can place these dough balls onto the baking sheets you plan to use, on top of some parchment paper. Let the dough balls rest 15 minutes covered with a dish towel.
  6. Now gently press the dough pieces down into circles until they are about a finger width high. That’s a pretty loose measurement, but a bit of variation won’t harm the taste. Try your best to space them out as well as you have room to (this is a good idea no matter what you’re baking, usually). Cover them one more time to let them rise for 20 minutes. Towards the middle of this 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 425°F.
  7. Uncover and press a spoon gently down into the middle of each piece. Make the indent at least half the total diameter in width. (Just imagine how much custard you want to fill them with, and let that be your guide.) Don’t worry about pressing down too deeply into the dough. Just don’t break a hole in the bottom and you’re good to go!
  8. Fill each indentation with custard until level with the surface of the rest of the dough. This is where you can add berries, just put them right on top of the custard. If you’re using frozen berries, microwave them for a minute first and make sure to drain the resulting liquid out. Skolebrød bake in oven for 10-14 minutes. You can bake with two sheets at once if you have a convection function in your oven, but the baking time will be a little longer. They are finished when they get a nice tan. Make sure to avoid over-cooking. Cool them well on a rack before icing, and sprinkle with plenty of coconut shavings before the icing sugar hardens.

Icing:
(To make one cup)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened (you can probably get away with melted, which is a bit easier)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Method

  1. Mix the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and vanilla together into a small bowl or a large cup.
  2. Start by adding half the milk, and stir in to make a thick glaze. Add just a drop at a time more until you get the consistency you’re looking for.
  3. Spread immediately onto the Skolebrød, and add the coconut shavings before the icing hardens.

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Now you’re finally done! A surprising amount of work goes into these little guys, but you can tell all your friends and family you made every single part of this delicious desert from scratch. So, enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee as they like to in Norway, send one to school with your kids as the name suggests, or maybe even sneak one for breakfast. However you choose to eat it, you can be proud of adding a Norwegian specialty to your recipe book!

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