Skolebrød (School Bread)

I have not been to Norway and I would like to go there someday. Judging from the photographs in the travel guidebooks and at the Norway website, it seems like a beautiful place. I dream about spending a Christmas holiday there, and if I'm lucky enough, to go to a place where I can see the Aurora. I imagine it would be magical.

This week, I couldn't stop thinking about Skolebrød. I wanted to eat it so badly. Which is strange because I've never eaten or even heard of Skolebrød before. You see, I was searching for a recipe online for a custard bread that I've a sudden craving for. I don't know the name (and still don't) of that custard bread in question. So I typed "custard bread" in google search, as we do, and saw an image of a bun coated in grated coconut with baked custard in the middle. That is interesting, I thought. Further investigation reveals that it is a Norwegian sweet bread usually "put in school lunches as dessert" (quote from wikipedia). The name Skolebrød literally means school bread. Lucky Norwegian kids, but I bet they never had vegemite sandwiches before.

I have tested out several recipes for an authentic Skolebrød. In the end, I decided to use the tried, tested, and much loved Tongzhong method to get the soft fluffy sweet buns that I just can't get enough. Not so authentic, but what we got here is the softest and fluffiest bun with baked custard in the middle, coated with sugar glaze, and covered in dessicated coconut. If you are serving this straight away, decorate with pastry cream (leftover from making the baked custard).

This is best eaten on the day it's made. I recommend storing the leftover in the fridge because of the custard, just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, this also means that the buns will lose some of it's fluffiness. Not a problem. You can warm the buns quickly in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, and the buns will be soft and fluffy again.

Oh, can anyone solve the riddle of that custard bread that I'm still looking for? I think it's french.

Skolebrød (School Bread)
(Bread adapted from 65 Degrees Celsius Tangzhong Bread by Yvonne C.)

Makes 12

Pastry Cream
200 grams milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped for seeds
3 egg yolks
50 grams caster sugar
20 grams plain flour

50 grams strong high protein flour (bread flour)
250 grams water, room temperature

Sweet Buns
210 grams strong high protein flour (bread flour)
56 grams soft low protein flour (cake flour)
20 grams milk powder
42 grams caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 grams instant dried yeast
30 grams egg (about half of a large egg), beaten, room temperature (reserve other half for egg wash)
85 grams warm water (46 to 52 degrees celsius)
84 grams tangzhong, room temperature
22 grams unsalted butter, room temperature, soften

Coconut Sugar Glaze Topping
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoon water, room temperature
1/2 bowl desiccated coconut

To make pastry cream:
Add milk, vanilla bean and seeds to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a clean separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture is slightly pale in colour (you can whisk this by hand for 2 minutes). Add flour and whisk to combine.

Add a third of the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Add remaining hot milk and whisk to combine. Return egg and milk mixture to the saucepan, over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until mixture starts to thicken. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into a plate, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to cool completely.

To make tangzhong:
Combine flour and water in a small saucepan. Place saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly with a hand whisk, until mixture reaches 65 degrees celsius. To tell without using the thermometer, the mixture is done when it's start to thicken slightly and the whisk leave trails in the liquid. Remove from heat, transfer mixture to a bowl, press cling film over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin forming, and allow to cool until room temperature.

Tangzhong can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Allow tangzhong to come to room temperature before using. Discard if tangzhong has taken on a grey tinge.

To make sweet buns:
Note: I used instant dried yeast that can be added directly to the flour without having to go through the step of dissolving the yeast first. If the type of yeast that you are using needs to be dissolved, sprinkle yeast onto warm water. Add a pinch of caster sugar, whisk to combine, and allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy and frothy.

Combine flours, milk powder, caster sugar, ground cardamom, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Add egg, warm water and tangzhong to the flour mixture.

Fix mixer with the hook attachment, with the mixer on low speed (#2 on Kitchenaid), knead dough until the ingredients are incorporated. Stop mixer, add soften butter, and resume kneading on low speed until the dough is smooth, elastic and tacky. This should take about 10-15 minutes. The dough should sticks to the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. To check if the dough is ready, do a windowpane test (aka membrane test); pinch off a small golf ball size dough, and if you can stretch it into a paper thin translucent membrane without breaking it until eventually a hole starts to appear, the dough is good to go.

Shape dough into a ball. Resist adding more flour. For ease of handling the dough, lightly grease hands instead. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover the bowl securely with a cling flim, and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours.

Deflate the dough, divide dough into 12 equal pieces (about 40-45 grams each), shape each piece into a ball, and place on baking tray lined baking paper. Allow plenty of space between each bun (about 10cm apart). Make an indentation into each bun with a lightly floured or greased thumb. Cover with oiled cling flim and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (or 160 degrees celsius fan-forced). Press down the indentation in the bun made earlier with your thumb again to make a deep hole, careful not to deflate the bun too much. Pipe pastry cream into each hole. Brush the buns with leftover beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire-rack to cool while making sugar glaze.

To make coconut sugar glaze topping:
Sift icing sugar to breakdown or remove any lumps. Combine icing sugar and water to make a glaze.

Brush the glaze onto the buns around the custard centre. Dip the glazed part of each bun into the coconut. Finish by placing a little of leftover pastry cream on top (optional).

Join the conversation!

  1. omg these are so cute and that pastry cream sounds divine!

  2. I noticed your picture of skolebrød on foodgawker and thought they were the prettiest ones I have ever seen. And guess what, I'm from Norway! I was sure it had to be from a Norwegian blog, you even used the Norwegian letter "ø"! So it was quite funny to find an aussie googeling for receipes at random. Totally something I would do too! And now you have made me curious about the tangzhong. What does that do to the dough, chemically I mean? Oh, and the pastry you were looking for wasn't eclairs was it?

    1. Belle1.11.13

      Hi Trine. I'm so excited to have a Norwegian reader to this blog (now I know who to seek advice from when I ever have the chance to visit Norway! *wink*). The Tangzhong method is originated from Japan. It's a wet paste that is added to the bread dough to produce a softer and fluffier bread that will also stay soft for longer. I'm not too sure about the science behind this method, but I read that the paste absorb the moisture and become leavened. The custard bread that I was looking for is definitely not eclairs. It is a soft sweet bread that is about the size of a pizza and has custard on top with almond flakes. :)

    2. They look delicious! And I am norwegian too so I would know;) But kids don't really eat this at shcool. We try to be a little more health concious than that:) It has been said that the name comes from the fact that kids learned to make this in " heimkunnskap", a class where we learn to cook. We eat them at birthdays and parties. They are really good but yours are the best looking ones I have ever seen!! Love Beate Kristin Hansen

    3. Belle3.11.13

      Hi Beate. Thank you for that interesting bit of information and your lovely comment. Anyway, Skolebrød will definitely be one of the things that I will look out for f I'm ever lucky enough to visit Norway. :)

  3. Anonymous14.8.14

    250 grams strong high protein flour (bread flour)
    50 grams water, room temperature

    Hi there,

    I think you have mixed up the 2 ingredients: should be the other way round, 250g water to 50g flour. Hope you will change it.

    1. Belle14.8.14

      Thank you sooooo much for picking that up!!!! I really appreciate it. I have updated the recipe.


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