Icelandic Rjómabollur (Bun-Day Buns)

Bun day buns

 

Icelandic Bun Day
(Bolludagur)

Spoiler alert ! If you’re on a diet, you might put on a pound or two reading this post.

Imagine being awakened to the sound of your kids yelling “bolla, bolla, bolla”  (“buns, buns, buns”) while smacking you with homemade paper wands! If you’re an Icelandic parent you better get out of bed fast, because for each successful smack on your bottom that the kids land before your feet hit the floor, you owe them the equivalent number of buns.

It’s the start of Bolludagur or Bun Day in Iceland. Part of the pre-Lenten season festivities, Bun Day is always the Monday before Ash Wednesday.  On Bun Day Icelanders indulge in not just any ole bun, but buns that we call cream puffs. Yes, those well aimed smacks the kiddos landed translate into cream puffs. What a way to start the week. . . delicate, light as air pastry, dipped in chocolate, schmeared with a bit of strawberry jam and filled with  whipped cream. OMG! Bet you can’t eat just one. They’re not just for kids. They’re everywhere and they sell out quickly.

Bun Day  is the start of three days of Icelandic indulgences. Tuesday is Sprengidagur or Bursting Day, our Fat Tuesday. I think this is more of an adult indulgence, as Icelanders stuff themselves with salted lamb and pea soup until they burst. Historically, this was the last day on which to have a proper meal before the fasting period of Lent.

But wait, there’s one more day for the kids. Oskudagur, or Ash Wednesday is a day filled with candy and pranks. It’s like Halloween. Kids dress in costumes of all sorts and don’t go door to door, but hit the shops where they sing for candy and sweets. As to the pranks, it’s not a matter of “trick OR treat”. Part of the fun for the kids is the time they have spent with mom making little cloth bags. They’re only a few inches big and attached to the string is a little pin. The challenge is to sneak up behind an unsuspecting person and attach a bag to their back. Then slip away unnoticed. Traditionally the bags contained ashes, but today they are just pretty little cloth bags.

That’s it for this post. Three days of Icelandic decadence coming up. We hope you make some cream puffs and celebrate Bun Day. They’re easy to make and a lovely extravagance. Valentine’s Day isn’t too far away . . . cream puffs anyone?

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Rjómabollur (Makes 12)

Dough (Choux Pastry)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick or 100 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (exactly 4.4 ounces or 125 grams)
4 large eggs

Toppings
1/2 ounce milk chocolate
1 tablespoon melted butter

1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Cream Filling
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons of your favorite jam (Icelanders use strawberry jam.)

 

Use this dough immediately or refrigerate it in an airtight container until ready to use. It can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.

About 15 minutes before you whip the cream, put a metal bowl and whisk in the freezer.  Of course, make sure the cream is cold as well.

Preheat oven to 350F

Make the Dough

  1. Combine water, milk, butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until butter is melted, about a minute.
  2. Remove pan from heat and stir in flour.
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  3. With pan still off the heat, stir with a wooden spoon until dough is combined and releases from the side of the pan.  Put the pan back on medium heat and keep vigorously stirring until you have a smooth dough, about a minute or two.
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  4. Remove pan from heat again and use the wooden spoon to beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is well combined with the dough before adding the next one.
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  5. The final dough consistency should be thick but still slightly runny.8

Pipe out the Buns 

  1. Place a large open star pastry tip into a piping bag and then fill the bag with the dough. Pipe about 2.5-inch rounds onto a non-stick baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and gently press down on the pointy tops that occur when piped.
  2. Bake immediately in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes. After 10 minutes open the oven a little and count to three and close again, repeat this after another 20 minutes of baking. This will let the steam out and make crispier buns. Make sure you don’t take the buns out of the oven too early,  as they might collapse. They should have formed a rather hard outside before taking them out.
  3. When baked, take the buns of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
    9

Chocolate Topping

4.  Pour about an inch of water into a small pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Put chocolate and melted butter in a heat proof bowl that fits snugly over the pot. Fit the bowl on top and stir until chocolate melts and is well combined with the butter.
5.  Dip the top of 6 buns into the melted chocolate and place chocolate side up on the rack. Refrigerate until chocolate firms up and doesn’t stick to your finger when touched.
11 12

Cream Filling

  1. Put cream into bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until stiff peaks form.  Fit a large star tip into a piping bag, fill the bag with the whipped cream.
  2. Cut the buns in half horizontally. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of  jam on the bottom half of each bun then pipe cream evenly on top of the jam. Place bun tops on the cream.
    13 14
  3. Sprinkle the non-chocolate coated buns with confectioner’s sugar.

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Rjómabolla

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baking, Cream Puffs, Desserts, Icelandic Classic | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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A Home Smoking Primer

All You Need to Know About Smoking Food

Here is a primer that will show you how easy it is to smoke your own food.  Imagine making your own smoked fish, chicken, and meats.  It’s inexpensive and easier than you think. We’ll walk you through it and cover brining, smoking methods, types of wood to use and the utensils you need.

The next couple of posts will cover how to cold smoke and warm smoke salmon.  Then we’ll give you some smokin’ good recipes that are sure to be hits over the coming holidays, or for that matter any time you serve them.

BRINES:  Brining and smoking food go together.  There are two types of brines, wet and dry.  The following recipes give you basic ratios. How much you ultimately use simply depends on how big a portion of food you are brining.

Wet Brine
Wet brine is good for large pieces of meat and whole chickens or turkeys. Entire fish like salmon, trout and mackerel are wet brined.  Use a wet brine for shellfish still in the shell.  Once shelled, you use a dry brine.

3 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
Bring water, salt and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pot over high heat. Stir until dissolved.  Remove pot from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

Dry Brine
Dry brines are for smaller pieces of food such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts; salmon; trout and haddock fillets.

8 tablespoons salt
5 tablespoons sugar
Mix salt and sugar until well combined. Store in a cool, dry place.

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There are two methods of smoking:  warm and cold.

Warm Smoking
Warm smoking will thoroughly cook the food.  If you are smoking fish, the internal temperature at it’s thickest part should reach 140-145 degrees F.  If you are smoking pork or chicken the internal temperature should reach at least 170 degrees F.  Check the temperature with an instant read thermometer.

Cold Smoking
The food does not thoroughly cook.  It remains raw and is served that way (salmon) or it is cooked after smoking such as you would do with sausages. It’s important to keep the temperature in the smoker as low as possible. The internal temperature when cold smoking salmon should not go over 90 degrees F.

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DSC_0035edited

Wood Chips
Always use hard wood.  Wood chips from most fruit and nut trees such as apple, pear, fig and cherry work well.  The most common woods are probably oak, hickory and maple. Avoid pine and redwood as they have too much tar. Never use wood from old pallets or woods that might have been treated with chemicals. Never use moldy wood. The point is, don’t use any ole’ wood.   Buy small bags of wood chips in the outdoor and barbecue sections of stores, some kitchen stores and even hardware stores.  There are lots of choices, chips come in different sizes and they don’t cost much at all.

Because Oli’s smoker is rather small, and he wanted to produce smoke quickly, he used very small wood chips.  

Preparing the wood
Before you start the smoking process soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes.   Then place chips in a strainer and press to remove most of the water.  Chips will be wet, but not soaking wet. The ratio of wood to water and the soaking time will vary according to what and how much you are smoking.
b c

And finally, dump the chips onto paper towels and pat out excess water.
d e

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The Smoker
The smoker Oli uses is really a stainless steel steamer that he bought at the Asian market for about $30. It is 11-inches wide and 14.5-inches tall including the lid.

1

 

a1
Here are all the parts of Oli’s smoker (steamer).  #1 is the base pot.  This is where you put the wood.
Note: You don´t always use every part.  It just depends on what you are smoking and the method you are using.

b1
Next you place #2, the flat steamer insert inside of the base pot. That’s where you would place chicken or other meat to warm smoke it over high heat.

c1
#3 is a pot with a steamer bottom (the bottom is not solid).  This level would be used to warm smoke food using less heat.

d1
This set up has one more flat steamer insert #4.  It can be used as the top piece for cold smoking because you want the food to be as far away from direct heat as possible and to be smoked in a short period of time.

e
An added bonus for Oli is that #5, the lid, has a glass top so he can see what’s smokin’.

That’s it.  You are ready to smoke.

 

Posted in Basics, Home Smoking Primer, How to do | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments