Icelandic Bun’s Day (Fastelavn)

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Tomorrow it is Bolludagur (Buns’ Day) in Iceland, so now Icelanders will be stuffing their faces with chaux pastry buns like these this week! Filled with whipped cream, jam, pudding, bailey’s cream or however you like. Actually, this day is celebrated around this time in all the Nordic countries (except Finland?), with various kinds of buns.

Choux pastry originates almost 500 years ago and is the basis of various European delicacies. I’ve made chaux pastry buns (or as they are called in Icelandic vatnsdeigsbollur=water’s-dough’s-buns…) only about half my life, and to begin with they ended up sad and soggy the day after, instead of the puffy, crispy and tall buns you’re supposed to get. Anyway, that is history, now they’re perfect each time as I follow this bulletproof recipe:

400 mL water
260 g butter
½ tsp salt
240 g flour
7 eggs

Melt the butter in the water and heat until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat, add the salt and the flour, mix it together using a wooden spoon; return to the heat and beat until it releases the sides of the pot and is shiny and smooth. Allow to cool slightly, if too hot when the eggs are added … well, you know what happens when egg get to hot. Set the oven to 180°C (fan) and line two plates with baking paper. Beat the dough and add the slightly beaten eggs to the dough slowly and make sure to mix well between additions. The dough is supposed to be stiff enough for a wooden spoon to stand in the middle, if too soft, the eggs have probably been added to the mix too fast. Pipe the dough or use spoons to form 24 large buns (or many small ones). Bake for 35-40 minutes and don’t open the oven the first 20 minutes, otherwise the buns can collapse. When the time is up, remove from the oven, cut open and return to the oven; turn off the oven and allow the buns to cool in the closed oven.