Today is Bun Day, or Bolludagur, which is celebrated on the Monday before Lent starts, seven weeks before Easter. On this day, children wake their parents up with loud screams and spanks. The kids shout “Bolla, Bolla, Bolla!” (“Bun, bun, bun!”) and try to spank their parents with paddles that they have made at school. These are made of wands that are wrapped in colourful tissue, and for every successful spank, the kids get to eat one bun. The tradition of Bun Day supposedly arrived in Iceland in the nineteenth century, and stems from Danish and Norwegian bakers who settled here.
At Kornið bakery on Lækjargata, one really can’t miss that today is Bun Day. They sell a variety of buns with different fillings and icings. Gunnhildur, who sells the buns, tells me that as a child, Bun Day is associated with the colourful paddles, the yelling and sneaking around the house to score some buns. As an adult, she says, “Bun Day is pretty much just about getting stuffed with buns.”
Gunnhildur says that buns are traditionally made with water-based dough, but they are made in a variety of ways today, and buns made from yeast dough are very popular as well. “At this bakery we will sell about 200 buns today, while a lot of people bake them at home with the family,” she says. “The traditional day to eat buns is today, but we sell them the week before as well.” The buns are only made this time of the year though. I guess that when one eats several on Bun Day, one doesn’t need more during the rest of the year.
Being a new resident of Iceland, I had never tried a bun before, so naturally I gave the traditional profiterole-like specialty a try. The dough is very light and tasty, and although the whole thing, with the chocolate icing and the cream, looks too sweet, it tastes excellent, especially with a cup of coffee. The raspberry jam inside the bun gave it a nice fruity touch. So go ahead and eat a bun today, it is worth the sweet sin.
You can find a bun recipe here.