Bolludagur Bun Day is part of a delicious three day Lenten festival and takes place on the Monday, just before what we call Shrove Tuesday (our Pancake Day). Icelanders traditionally stuff themselves with the estimated sharing of over one million cream-filled choux pastry cream puff buns made in Iceland on this day.
The custom dates from the late nineteenth century from a religious festival and used to be called Flengingardagur (Spanking Day). In earlier and more serious times, people would flog themselves, and later, this evolved into a more light hearted event with people spanking each other! On the morning of Bolludagur children spank their parents with brightly decorated sticks, and for every whack of the wand they shout bolla! bolla! bolla!, and are rewarded with cream puffs!
Bolludagur is followed by Sprengidagur Bursting Day, Shrove Tuesday (the day before Lent) most Icelandic homes and restaurants will be serving salted meat and bean soup. The name Sprengidagur refers to the idea of eating to the point of bursting.
Öskudagur Ash Wednesday is celebrated in Iceland with a unique custom that is fun for children. Ashes are collected into small bags known as Öskupokar or Ash Bags. As a prank, these bags are secretly pinned on to people’s clothing. The day is also filled with children singing and parading around the streets and stores, begging for treats.
Here is a Recipe for Cream Puffs:
Makes two dozen 3-inch puffs.
Preheat oven to 400°
1 Cup Water or Milk
1/3 Cup Butter
4 or 5 Eggs at room temperature
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Place water or milk in a heavy pan. Heat mixture to boiling and add the flour all at once stirring quickly with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and does not cling to the spoon or the sides of the pan. Do not over cook.
Remove pan from heat and cool for 2 minutes.
Add the sugar and salt.
Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition, continuing to beat until the dough no longer looks slippery. The dough is ready when the last egg has been incorporated, and it has reached proper consistency when a small quantity of the dough will stand erect if scooped up on the end of the spoon. Use the dough at once.
Using two spoons or a filled pastry bag form desired size of puffs, allowing for expansion on a greased baking sheet. Before baking, sprinkle a few drops of water over the dough.
Bake cream puffs in preheated 400° oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for about 25 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and leave in oven for about 20-30 minutes until firm to the touch and dry inside.
Cool shells before filling.
To fill, cut horizontally with a sharp knife. Fill with sweetened whipped cream, custard, ice cream, jam or any combination. Drizzle with chocolate icing or melted chocolate.
Gleðilegan Bolludag! Happy Bun Day!