Norwegian coconut and vanilla rolls

Skjermbilde 2019-06-03 kl. 20.22.16.jpg

Norwegian coconut and vanilla Rolls


Makes 10 rolls


I don’t think there’s a single little boy or a girl who grew up in Norway and doesn’t know and cherish this baked good. When autumn and winter storms tug viciously at the treetops outside, few things beat coming home from school, all tired and cold, to a crackling fireplace and warm skolebrød—which literally translates to “school bread”—waiting on the kitchen table alongside a steaming hot drink to rejuvenate you after a long day. I must admit, these rolls are best the day of baking, and rarely do I buy them from a baker. As we say in Norwegian, “her er det bare å kose seg,” which means, “the only option you have here is to simply enjoy.” And I hope you do.


570g / 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

70g / 1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely ground cardamom

Pinch of sea salt

80g / 5 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for greasing

250ml / 1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

2 medium eggs

Vanilla Cream (recipe follows)

Coconut Icing (recipe follows)


In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt.


In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter. Add the milk and let warm. Test the milk on back of your hand; it’s ready when it’s the same temperature as your skin, about 37°C / 95°F. Remove the pan from the heat and gently whisk in the yeast. Let sit until slightly cooled, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 of the eggs. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until it’s well combined and forms a dough. Transfer the dough to a smooth, cool surface, and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough that springs back when touched, 10 to 12 minutes. (Feel free to use a stand mixer for kneading. I prefer to use my hands, like my mother, but this is just a matter of preference.) Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.


Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the rolls. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a round ball. Place the rolls on the baking dish with a little room between them for rising. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until risen, about 45 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 170°C / 340°F.


Use your thumb to push a hole in the center of each roll. Fill each hole with 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla cream. Whisk the remaining egg and brush each roll with the egg wash, avoiding the vanilla cream area. Bake, checking on them halfway through, until the rolls are lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, spread the coconut icing on each roll, again avoiding the vanilla area. Serve immediately.


Vanilla Cream

125ml / 1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/2 tablespoons double cream / heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 medium egg yolk


In a small saucepan, combine the milk (hold back 1 1/2tablespoons), cream, and sugar. Cut the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape the seeds out with the back of a knife. Add the vanilla seeds and the empty pod to the milk mixture. Set the pan over medium-low heat and slowly bring the mixture to a simmer.


In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoonsmilk and the cornstarch until completely dissolved, then whisk in the egg yolk. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture in a thin stream, making sure not to scramble the eggs. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan through a sieve to get rid of any lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes (do not let it bubble or boil!). Pour the cream into a bowl and let cool in the refrigerator before using.


Coconut Icing

100g / 3/4 cup icing sugar / confectioners’ sugar

4 teaspoons whole milk

4 tablespoons desiccated coconut


Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl and add the milk. Mix well, till you have a smooth, lump-free frosting. Place the coconut in a separate small bowl. Use the back of a spoon to glaze a thin layer of icing on the sides of the rolls, avoiding the vanilla cream area. Dip the glazed parts of the rolls in the coconut.