My favorite thing about December is the hype about Christmas. I love the decorations, the food, the movies, the songs. All of it. But my second favorite thing about December is that it feels perfectly acceptable on cold, gray winter days to have lazy indoor time where I cuddle up in comfy clothes, snuggle under blankets, watch Netflix, and cook hearty slow cooked foods. This recipe for Icelandic rye bread is a perfect food for one of those chilly winter days.
I had this rye bread a few times while I was in Reykjavik back in October. It is delicious, hearty, and a bit sweet. Not sweet like a pound cake, but sweet like banana bread. What I mean by that is, this rye bread has a sweet flavor but you could have it for breakfast or alongside a savory meal. For example, Ryan and I once has it with beef and barley soup. Now that – soup and bread – might be the epitome of a hearty, warming, stay indoors winter meal.
Traditionally, this bread is cooked using the heat of the ground. If you got back and see my Reykjavik post, you’ll see photos from Fontana Wellness Center where I got to try bread cooked in the ground. I got a rye bread recipe from Fontana, but the problem is that their recipe takes 24 hours to bake and I also don’t have access to a 100°C ground. Maybe by an exhaust grate from the tube? But that’s gross.
This recipe though, is adapted from Ulfar Andresson who is an owner of Icelandic Activities and he led a hiking tour for my friend Anna and me. If you have time, I also suggest going back and reading my post on the Midnight Hike we did with Ulfar. We saw the Northern Lights and it was the hike was best thing we did in Iceland.
While this recipe is made in less time than the one from Fontana Wellness, it still requires a commitment at 6.5 hours total cook time. This is why it’s perfect for a lazy winter day in. Start baking it in the morning, queue up a TV show you want to see on Netflix, and settle in for the day. Friends might ask you to go out, but you will have a perfect excuse to stay in. You’ll say, “Oh I’d love to, but I have a loaf of bread in the oven and I have stay nearby.” And they’ll be a little proud of your domestic prowess and baking ability.
And believe me, this loaf is worth it. As time passes your place will start to smell like delicious freshly baked bread. Then, in the late afternoon you’ll have warm, moist, and tasty rye bread. This also make a ton of dough so as it bakes the dough will rise a bit and you’ll get the crusted hood you see on sandwich loaves. Ryan liked the crusty top whereas I was more of a baby and cut it off. And my final tip is that this is really good paired with butter, mild cheese, or peanut butter. But honestly, do what you like. It’s yummy anyway you have it.
Adapted from a recipe emailed to me by Ulfar Andresson from Iceland Activities. Note: Golden syrup isn’t so popular in the US. Although I can usually find Lyle’s golden syrup in the baking aisle. Use corn syrup if you can’t find it.
- 3 cups/ 310 grams rye flour
- 1.5 cups/ 180 grams whole wheat flour
- 2¼ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ cup/250 grams golden syrup (you can use corn syrup if you can't find golden syrup)
- 3 cups and 2 tablespoons/ 750 ml buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Preheat the oven to 210°F/100°C.
- Use butter to lightly grease a standard loaf pan (9x5" or 23x13 cm)
- In a large bowl stir together the rye flour, whole wheat flour, and baking soda.
- Now stir in the golden syrup, buttermilk, and honey. Mix gently until everything is just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth it down to make sure the pan is evenly filled. [Note: If you pour in all the batter it will come close to the top of the pan and you will end up with a hood like crust. If you don't want that crust then fill the loaf pan until it's about ¾ full then discard any unused dough.]
- Bake in the oven for 6 hours and 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Let cool just slightly so you can safely remove it from the pan. Serve warm or cool.