This a repurposed blog from a previous post I published back in January of 2013 before I turned vegan. I’ve wanted to make a vegan version of the amazing and popular sweet rolls Norwegians are known for, called skolebrød or skoleboller, depending on where in the country you live. In many areas of the country it has names like porke or purke (like in Arendal), olabolle, skilling or pai, while in Kristiansand they call it tolvøres, which presumably stems from the time when the price for a skolebolle was 12 øre (cents).
Regardless of the name, I set out to create my own delicious recipe of skoleboller, and after many test rounds, I’m proud to announce that this recipe is as good, or if not better, than the classic version I grew up with eating and making!
In my region in northwestern Norway, we have a strong baking tradition (perhaps the biggest in the country), and part of this tradition is making skoleboller. Skoleboller, or skolebrød, translates into “school buns” or “school” bread, and are sweet cardamom buns filled with vanilla custard in the middle, decorated with a confectioners sugar glaze and shredded coconut.
While some may be less than ecstatic to head back to school and work after a long holiday (or weekend!) these delightful pastries might just put a smile back on your face!
Cardamom is a beloved spice in baked goods in Scandinavia and what makes them so distinct and uniquely flavorful. I love this about our pastries, because adding a spice that typically is reserved for more savory dishes, doesn’t make them so cloyingly sweet which sometimes can be the case with similar treats from other countries. Norwegians pride themselves on being great bakers, and I think skoleboller is part of their legacy 🙂
Skoleboller used to be put in children’s lunch boxes as a special treat, hence the name. I remember being overly excited when my mom (on special days) took me to the bakery after school and I was allowed to have a skolebolle. This was something my mom would never bake at home, probably because they considered it a ‘kid food’ they clearly didn’t know what they were missing!). My other theory is that it’s next to impossible to have just one of these awesome buns, so of course having them at home could prove problematic…
Recently I came up with the perfect veganized recipe for skoleboller, where I think the most difficult part is creating the perfect vanilla custard. Traditionally made with eggs, when eliminating this ingredient, it can be hard to make the color pop as yellow as the store-bought versions of this pastry.
Truth be told, these days, most bakeries make the buns with pre-made, store bought vanilla custard that have tons of additives (including coloring) anyway, so there really isn’t a need to add eggs after all.
Personally I like to make everything from scratch so I bravely took on the challenge of coming up with a vanilla custard that would impress.
I’m proud to share my recipe for the most amazing, bright-yellow, flavorful vegan vanilla custard which has a secret ingredient… saffron!
While many vegan recipes use turmeric to help provide that yellow color, it can be difficult to gauge how much to add. If you add too much the custard turns brown (eww) and will impart a strong, unpleasant flavor in your sweet pastry. Saffron, however, imparts a warming and delightful taste – the amazing saffron buns we call lussekatter in Norway make in December come to mind.
For the actual dough of the skoleboller, I use the same recipe as for my cinnamon buns, which is one I refer to for all sweet doughs like this.
Skoleboller is a wonderful pastry to prepare for your guests who are coming over – with our without children – and is amazing with a cup of hot cocoa, or of course: that mandatory black cup of coffee Norwegians love so much!!
I hope you’ll enjoy my plant based version as much as I did…. Comment if you care and don’t forget to tag me on social media @arcticgrub if you decide to make these -I would love to hear from you!
For the buns:
900 grams (5 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
150 grams (¾ cups) granulated sugar
1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoon) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
5 dl (2 cups) non-dairy milk like soy, almond or cashew milk
¼ cup Just Eggs (can be omitted)
150 grams (5 ¼ oz) vegan butter, cold and diced (like Earth Balance)
Filling and topping:
1 cup (120 grams) dairy free vanilla custard* recipe below
Confectioner’s Glaze *
1/2 cup (125 ml) plant based milk or vegan butter for brushing buns
1/2 cup (50 grams) shredded coconut
2 cups (500ml) non-dairy milk (I used soy)
¼ cup (70ml) sugar
¼ cup (70 ml) cornstarch
pinch of fresh turmeric powder (optional)
½ teaspoon saffron strands
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or paste
Whisk the non-dairy milk with the sugar, cornstarch and turmeric (if using) in a medium, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the saffron strands, bring to a gentle simmer, lower the heat and keep stirring the mixture will start to thicken, it should take about 10 minutes or so.
You can check it by sticking a wooden spoon in the sauce, and it if coats the back of the spoon, it’s good. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract or paste.
Pour the custard into a glass or other non-reactive bowl and place in the fridge to thicken for a couple of hours. Once it has cooled you can cover the surface with plastic to prevent a skin forming on top.
2 cups (250 grams) confectioner’s sugar
4-5 tablespoons water (approximately)
Combine the water with the confectioner’s sugar and whisk until smooth.
To make the buns:
Combine all the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes. Add in the diced butter and knead for another 10 minutes until the dough releases from the edges of the bowl and is smooth and firm.
Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and rest until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
While the dough is rising, make the vanilla custard and the confectioner’s glaze.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450℉ (225℃).
On a clean work surface sprinkled with flour, knead the dough a minute or two more, and divide into two equal parts. Roll out into links and divide into 12 buns. Place on two greased baking sheets, cover with a towel and plastic wrap, and let rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 430 degrees Fahrenheit (215 degrees Celsius).
Poke a circle/dent in the center of each bun and fill with a tablespoon of the vanilla custard.
Bake one sheet at a time in the middle rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Once out of the oven, let the buns cool on a rack before spreading on with confectioner’s glaze and sprinkling with shredded coconut. Enjoy straight away!