Remember those cutout paper snowflakes you used to make in grade school? Icelandic Laufabraud is kind of like that – but in bread form! These intricately patterned, paper-thin breads feature intricate geometric designs cut by hand or with special brass rollers. Once designed, the dough is then fried. This bread is said to have originated in northern Iceland in the 18th Century, and was made so thin because grain and provisions at the time were scarce. Even in lean times, the Laufabraud was a special holiday treat, and it is still enjoyed at Christmas now. Check out this lovely version and recipe from Icelandic Knitter. Bakestreet has a recipe and a step-by-step video. Gleðileg jól!
Tag Archives: Iceland
When we starting making Southern-style buttermilk biscuits for brunch last year, we really started to appreciate the importance of good butter for slathering on a fresh biscuit. The grocery store varieties wouldn’t do – so we needed an upgrade. We started out buying Chimay Belgian salted butter from the grocery store we loved in Chicago, Fresh Farms. However, we couldn’t find it in Cleveland, so we switched unsuccessfully to salted Amish butter roll butter (too pale) and more successfully to Trader Joe’s cultured French butter (pretty good, especially for the price), which tasted similar to Chimay. However, when our last stick from TJ’s ran out we decided to do some sleuthing. Could we do any better? There were many fans of Kerrygold, the Irish butter, but some expressed dismay that the cows’ diets were being changed from grass-only.
One name that seemed to rise to the top in discussions of butter was Smjör – an Icelandic butter that contains milk from 100% grass-fed cows. We found Smjör at Whole Foods and it was about the same price ($4.99) as a regular box of Land O’Lakes butter, which was a happy surprise. We tried out Smjör on our latest batch of biscuits, and we can attest that it is as delicious as its reputation! The butter had an appealing, bright yellow color and was smooth and spreadable, instead of flaky as butter can sometimes be. There was a hint of salt, but it was not overpowering. Overall, the taste was really clean and buttery – butter as it was meant to be! You can also get unsalted Smjör at Whole Foods, which may be good for baking. The quality was much greater than the typical grocery store brands, and the price was not much more, so there’s no reason not to stock up. I think we have found our new go-to fancy butter!
The Pastry Post-Doc has been a recurring feature on ETW, and now I am bringing it back on Fridays as a weekly feature – highlighting a dessert or other sweet treat (pastry or not) from around the world. This week I’ll be featuring the intriguingly-named “Wedded Bliss Cake,” or “Happy Marriage Cake” an Icelandic confection whose real name – Hjónabandssaela– translates to just that. Though not associated with weddings, the theory is that the name comes from the fact that it can be made with ingredients that are usually on hand in a Scandinavian pantry: oats, sugar, cardamon and rhubarb. Outside Oslo has a recipe to make your own rhubarb jam, along with the cake itself (pictured above). If you don’t have rhubarb, you can probably substitute another flavor of jam or jelly – maybe the favorite of your significant other!
Semla (or as it goes by many other names: fastlagsbulle, laskiaispulla, or fastelavnsbolle) is a Scandinavian pastry strongly associated with Lent in Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden. Semlor (plural) used to be eaten on Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, however, it is now eaten throughout Lent, especially on Tuesdays. Semla seems pretty easy to make – and consists of a cardamom flavored sweet roll filled with whipped cream and almond paste. During this time of year, all of the bakeries in Scandinavia stock semla, and it is the perfect snack to enjoy with your afternoon coffee break, or fika. For those outside of Northern Europe, Camilla’s Cravings has a recipe for Semla.