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March 2024

March 29, 2024

Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)

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Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)
Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)

The daylight lingers more each day and spring has officially been welcomed in, though snow still graces our mountain landscape. One of the ways we invite more brightness in is through the use of citrus in our meals and desserts. It’s a tradition that sees copious amounts of oranges and lemons appear in boutiques all over the country, especially during påskeferie (spring break).   

These lemon custard buns ‘sitronboller’ are inspired by the season. Bright and sunny, they add a bit of liveliness to the kitchen. Lemon zest is added into dough for a subtle nod, whereas more zest and fresh lemon juice turn a traditional custard into a tangy and vibrant filling perfectly sandwiched into the layers.

For a little variety in the shape, I wanted to fold these lemon custard buns more like an envelope to create elongated buns rather than the typical circular ones. It means there’s a bit more of a mess, but I thoroughly enjoyed the look of these. Any extra custard flowing out can be spooned back in…or eaten along the way.

To ensure a not-so-messy bun, the custard needs to be thick enough when spreading it over the dough. Once cooled after baking, the custard will thicken up again and any that has come out of the buns will easily pull off the baking sheet. Pearl sugar adds a wonderful texture and sweetness, but feel free to substitute with granulated sugar. These are best eaten as soon as they’ve cooled down. They’re refreshing, tart, and very citrusy. Perfect for welcoming in the season!

Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)
Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)
Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)
Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)

Lemon Custard Buns (Sitronboller)

Makes 12 buns

For the buns:

  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (500 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons (75 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (¼ ounce/7 g) instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) lightly salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Pearl sugar, to finish

For the custard:

  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup (65) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 2/3 cups (400 ml) whole milk
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

For the buns, in a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until lukewarm.

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, lemon zest, and salt. Add the lukewarm milk and 1 of the eggs. Knead on low for 8 minutes. Add the butter and knead on medium for about 5 minutes more, or until the dough is very elastic and somewhat moist. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

For the custard, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar then whisk in the cornstarch and lemon zest.

Put the milk in a small saucepan. Place over low heat and warm until just about to simmer. Gradually pour the warm milk in a slow, steady stream into the egg yolk and sugar mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the custard has thickened considerably. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes before stirring in the fresh lemon juice until fully combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin and more flour as needed to prevent sticking, roll out the dough into a large rectangle that measures roughly 20 x 15 inches (50 x 38 cm). Spread the custard evenly across the dough all the way to the edges. Starting on one of the long sides, fold 1/3 of the dough toward the center then fold the other side of the dough over that to form an envelope. Carefully turn the dough over so the seal is facing downwards. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 12 equal size buns. It might get a little messy, but just push the custard back in. Divide the buns between the prepared baking sheets.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg and lightly brush it on top of the dough. Sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let the buns cool on the baking trays as any custard that has come out will firm up.

These are best eaten on the day. To keep longer, store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

*Plan on using 1 to 2 lemons for this recipe

Nevada Berg

Nevada is a utah native and norwegian by heart. When not crafting culinary delights she enjoys her family time and tending to her animals. You most certainly can find her perusing her property for wild berries.

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  1. Jeannine Juhnke says:

    Just made these to have for dessert for the big family Easter dinner. Yum!

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