Bolludagur is typically held three days before Lent begins, and the hallmark of this occasion is the consumption of choux pastry filled with jam and whipped cream and usually topped with chocolate. They are delicious, decadent, filling, and although you may hate yourself and every life decision you made afterwards, you can easily sit down with half a dozen of these and inhale them.
Unfortunately, two groups of people are far too often excluded from this holiday: vegans and the lactose intolerant. The whipped cream, of course, is dairy, but choux pastries–arguably the tastier version used for bollur–are something like 80% butter.
While here in anno domini two thousand and twenty two you can probably find a bakery or two offering vegan bollur, nothing tastes better than something you bake yourself. Given that our previous recipe on how to make vegan kjötsúpa was a surprise hit, I’d like to share with you my recipe for making vegan, lactose-free versions of this Icelandic classic.
Start off by putting a can of coconut milk in your fridge the night before. We’ll come back to that soon enough.
As you dough
I would not recommend trying to make vegan choux pastry. Technically, it is possible, much like navigating a probe to land on a speeding comet is possible, but also exceedingly difficult. So instead of choux pastry–which comprise the more popular vatnsdeigsbollur-we’re going instead here with a dairy-free version of gerbollur, i.e., dough that uses the magic of yeast to rise. And we’ll be using metric measurements here–sorry, Americans. Make the conversions yourself until such time as your country drops your medieval, nonsensical system of weights and measures and joins the rest of us in the 21st century.
For this, you will need the following:
In one bowl, mix 250 grams of flour, 50 grams of sugar, and a little bit of salt.
In a saucepan, pour in 2 dL of your non-dairy milk of choice (I recommend oat milk) and 50 grams of non-dairy butter. Do not use smjörlíki, as this can often have powdered dairy in it. Use instead a non-dairy butter that is based on nut oils like cashews and coconut oil.
Heat up the milk just enough to melt the butter and then let it stand until it’s cool enough to stick your finger in it without getting burned, but still warm. At this point, add two large spoonfuls of dry baker’s yeast and another spoonful of sugar, mix, and let stand for about ten minutes.
Yeast loves sugar, and as it eats the sugar, it produces carbon dioxide (which makes dough rise) and will produce bubbles in this mixture after about ten minutes or so.
It’s at this point that you gently add your dry mix to the wet, stirring continuously. You want this dough to be a bit sticky, but not so wet that it sticks to your fingers. Light and airy is the key here. Once it has reached this state, cover with plastic wrap or a wet cloth and let it stand for about an hour.
During this time, as the yeast continues to gobble at sugar and produce more gas to fluff up your dough, reflect on just how quickly you’re going to eat these things once they’re done. Pace yourself; it’s gonna take you a while to make these. You want them to last. Consider sharing them with others.
Once the requisite hour has passed, make roll-sized balls on a baking sheet on an oven rack while you begin to preheat your oven at 180°C. You should be able to make between 6 to 10 of these with the dough provided. Let them rise for another half hour, as the process of forming the doughballs will have squeezed some of the air out of them, and then put them in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Time for the cream!
So, first of all, I wouldn’t shame anyone for simply popping down to the store and buying any kind of vegan/lactose free whipped cream in a can. But if you really want to make dairy-free whipped cream yourself, then this is what I recommend.
Take your can of coconut milk out of the fridge and open it up. You will notice, if your fridge works, that the milk has separated into a harder white substance and a watery substance. The denser substance is the fat, and that’s what we’re going to use here. Use the water for something else. Hell, drink it, for all I care. It is pretty tasty.
Drop the coconut fat in a bowl and add 30 grams of powdered sugar and a cap-full of vanilla extract. Now beat the crap out of it. If you do this by hand, like grandma used to, it’s gonna take a while. So borrow a hand mixer from a friend, if you can, to save yourself some time and shoulder pain.
It’s done when it looks and acts like whipped cream. It’s not brain surgery.
Jelly and chocolate time
By now, your dough balls should be ready to take out off the oven as light, fluffy rolls. Let those cool a bit. When cool enough to handle but still warm, cut them in half, hamburger-bun style, and separate the tops from the bottoms.
What kind of jam or jelly you use is really up to you. I would recommend using jam, as it still has bits of fruit in it and tends not to use gelatin, which is not vegan, and besides it is just objectively better than jelly.
The chocolate topping is easy enough to make. Just mix five large spoons of cocoa powder and one large spoon of powdered sugar, add a splash of non-dairy milk and mix together. It should be the thickness of your standard chocolate sauce.
Use a small spoon to add a small blob of chocolate sauce on top of each bollur top. The latent warmth should evaporate enough of its liquid to harden it.
While you’re waiting on that, smear a generous amount of jam onto each bottom, followed by a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of the jam.
Finally, gently place the bollur tops on top of the cream-and-jam-ified bollur bottoms. You now have complete vegan and dairy-free bollur.
You could eat them all by yourself in one sitting, save one or two for breakfast each morning for the work week, give them to the loves of your life, or share them with your co-workers. Either way, they are sure to be a hit you can enjoy any day of the year.
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