Icelandic Bun Day
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?
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
1/2 ounce milk chocolate
1 tablespoon melted butter
1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar for dusting
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
- 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.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in flour.
- 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.
- 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.
- The final dough consistency should be thick but still slightly runny.
Pipe out the Buns
- 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.
- 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.
- When baked, take the buns of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sprinkle the non-chocolate coated buns with confectioner’s sugar.