Skolebrød is a firm favourite with kids (and adults alike) all over Norway. The history of the skolebrød is patchy, but it seemed to have started in the 1950s when they were put in kids' school lunch boxes as a treat. Now, we find them in the bakery department of every shop across the country from the biggest supermarkets to the smallest village shops and a tray rarely lasts more than a few hours before they are snapped up.
It goes by different names throughout Norway, for example in the western Norway it is know as skolebolle, in the north and east as skolebrød. In Vestfold and Telemark, we call them skolebrød. In Arctic Norway, a similar cake is made to celebrate the return of the sun in the spring and is made without coconut but with the custard centre and is reminiscent of the sun.
Skolebrød is a sweet, enriched dough that is easy to make. There is a bit of time spent on the decoration, but they simply wouldn't be the same without it, so it's worth making the effort.
Skolebrød (makes 12)
500g / 1 lb 1 oz plain, all purpose flour
60g / 2.1 oz sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
40g / 1.75 oz fresh yeast or 20g / 1 oz dried yeast
200ml / 6.75 fl oz milk
80g / 3 oz butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 beaten egg for the glaze
300ml / 10 fl oz crème patissiere or vanilla sauce or custard
1 egg white
200g / 7 oz icing sugar
2tbsp desiccated coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly. Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your standing mixer (or a large bowl if you are mixing by hand). Warm the milk to tepid or blood temperature and blend in the yeast. With your dough hook on the mixer and the speed set to low gradually blend in the melted butter, egg and milk/yeast mix. If you are making the dough by hand use a blunt ended knife to mix the dough together. You should have a smooth dough that is neither too sticky (not sticking excessively to the side of the bowl) or too dry. If it's too sticky, don't be afraid to add a little more flour. Set your mixer on lows for 10 minutes kneading time, or turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp teatowel and put in a warm place to prove until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).
Once the dough has proved, knock it back and divide into 12 even sized pieces. Shape it piece into a ball and gently roll with a rolling pin until you have a thick disk about 2" across. Place them on a baking sheet that has been covered with baking paper or a parchment. Leave plenty of space between each one, cover with the damp teatowel and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180C or 360F
Using your thumb make a large dent in the centre of each skolebrød and fill each with about 2 teaspoons of the vanilla sauce or crème patissiere. Carefully paint the rest of the dough with egg wash and cook in the centre of the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the royal icing, beat the egg white to break it up slightly and gradually add the icing sugar, beating well between each addition. I like to use a bowl and wooden spoon for this because I find I can feel the consistency much better. You might not need all the icing sugar, but you are looking for a slightly runny icing that will flow nicely over your skolebrød, but must be free from lumps of icing sugar. Cover with plastic wrap or put in a plastic box until you need it. Royal icing keeps very well for several weeks in the fridge and you can use it ice gingerbread or drizzle over a cake.
When cooled, cover the exposed dough (not the cream filling) with icing and sprinkle with the desiccated coconut.
Vær så god!
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