By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With the National day of Norway taking place this week (May 17th), few other celebratory recipes seem as fitting as Norwegian cream buns. Taken from Bronte Aurell, owner of The Scandikitchen café in Fitzrovia and author of The Scandikitchen cookbook, these ‘Skoleboller’ buns are relatively simple to recreate and home, and are made with a crème pâtissière centre, and topped with icing and desiccated coconut.
“This is the ultimate comfort bun for Norwegians. Traditionally named ‘Skoleboller’ (‘school buns’), we call them Norwegian cream buns at the café.”
Dried yeast, 13g, or fresh yeast, 25g *(see below)
Whole milk, 250ml, heated to 36–37°C
Butter, 80g, melted and cooled slightly
Caster sugar, 40g
White strong flour, 400–500g
Ground cardamom, 2tsp
Egg, 1, beaten
Flaked almonds, to decorate
Crème pâtissière, ½ quantity (recipe below)
Egg, 1, beaten, for brushing
Icing sugar, 150g
Desiccated coconut, 50g
Pour the warm milk into a bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and whisk together. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to become bubbly. Pour into the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start the machine and add the cooled, melted butter. Allow to combine with the yeast for 1 minute or so, then add the sugar. Allow to combine for 1 minute.
In a separate bowl, weigh out 400g of the flour, add the cardamom and salt and mix together. Start adding the flour and spices into the milk mixture, bit by bit. Add half the beaten egg.
Keep kneading for 5 minutes. You may need to add more flour – you want the mixture to end up a bit sticky, but not so much that it sticks to your finger if you poke it. It is better not to add too much flour as this will result in dry buns. You can always add more later.
Once mixed, leave the dough in a bowl and cover with a dish towel or cling film. Allow to rise for around 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, roll out the dough into a cylinder and cut it into 14 pieces. Roll each piece into a neat circle, then place on a baking sheet and flatten firmly (although they will spring back into place after a while). Make sure you space the buns out evenly.
Using the base of a glass measuring around 4–5cm in diameter, press down the middle of each bun and add a good tablespoon of Crème pâtissière to each indentation.
Leave the buns to rise for a further 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) Gas 6.
Lightly brush the buns with egg (avoid the custard centres) and bake in the preheated oven for around 10 minutes, or until done (times may vary depending on your oven).
Cover the baked buns with a damp dish towel for 5–10 minutes as soon as you have removed them from the oven to avoid a crust forming.
Once the buns have cooled, make the icing. Add a few tablespoons of hot water to the icing sugar and stir. Keep adding water, drop by drop, and stirring until you have a smooth consistency that can be stirred but is still thick, like a syrup.
Using a plastic pastry brush or a palette knife, carefully smooth the icing on top of all the buns, avoiding the cream centre. After each bun has been brushed, sprinkle coconut over the top.
For the crème pâtissière
“Many recipes in Scandinavian baking use crème pâtissière – from layer cakes to baked goods and Danish pastries. This is a simple, quick and delicious version.”
Whole milk, 500 ml
Vanilla pod, ½
Caster sugar, 100g
Heat the milk in a saucepan together with the scraped out vanilla seeds. Add the whole pod to the pan, too, for extra flavour.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornflour and salt. When the milk reaches boiling point, remove the vanilla pod and discard, and pour in a quarter of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking as you do so. Once whisked through, pour the egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk, return to the heat and bring to the boil, whisking continuously. Let it bubble for just under a minute. Make sure you whisk as it thickens.
Remove from the heat and add the butter, whisking in well. Pour into a cold bowl, then cover the top with a sheet of baking parchment to prevent a hard edge from forming as it cools down. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
This recipe is taken from The Scandikitchen by Bronte Aurell, Published by Ryland Peters & Small, Photography by Peter Cassidy. Further information on The Scandikitchen can be found at scandikitchen.co.uk.