In Iceland we’re very big on baking before christmas. A typical question when someone runs into someone in the store or on the street in December would be “how many sorts are you baking this year” rather than whether you are baking anything! To bake a lot of different kinds of christmas cookies is a long tradition. One home can have as many as ten different types of bake depending whether one person decides to bake like crazy, or the whole family grabs some quality time in the kitchen.
And then there is confectionary which is taken very seriously by many – so seriously in fact that friendships have been broken or at least fragmented by disagreements over confection. Yes confectionary evenings, where a group of friends gather together and make all kinds of delicious chocolates over a nice chat and a bottle of wine, can go wrong. If some don’t take it as seriously as others they might not be invited again, because nobody messes with the chocolate spirit!
Even after all these cakes and confections we’re not done with baking before christmas, because a lot of Icelandic homes believe that christmas isn’t the same without ‘laufabraud’ which directly translate as ‘leaf bread’. That is another tradition people or families get together for. In modern days most people buy the dough ready made and together they cut out pictures in the bread before it is deep fried in a big pot. Afterwards many use the opportunity to have a little early taste of christmas by tasting different makes of smoked lamb, a traditional christmas meal enjoyed with some potatoes and white sauce made of milk and flour. This is a very important tradition for Icelanders, so that we know which make is the right one to buy for christmas.
Yes this is just the baking. We haven’t even touched on all the traditions for parties and dinners and the other traditions that begin at the end of November. Christmas in Iceland is not just one day. It is a party for a month. If you want to have a little taste of Icelandic Christmas baking you can try out the leaf bread. It is also a popular decoration for windows and christmas trees.
- 1 kg flour
- 30 g sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5-6 ml milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- frying oil
Cut a piece of the roll and flatten it until its very thin on the table. Remember to put some flour underneath on the table so the dough doesnt stick to the table as well as the rolling pin. Flatten the dough until it is so thin you could see through it.
Put a plate on the dough and cut it into circles. If you need to store the bread a bit before cutting through it, put a baking paper in between the circles and store them a closed plastic blag an the fridge. (Not for more then 48 hours)
Cut patterns into the bread with a knife or a roller.
Heat the frying oil in a deep, wide pot. The oil is ready when you see steam come out of it.
Fry one bread at a time for a few seconds on each side. You need to be a little careful not to break them.
When the bread has become golden brown it is ready it can be put it on a pile of kitchen roll or a newspaper so that the oil is absorbed. Let the breads cool and store it in a closed box. If they are stored in a cool place they can be good for a few months.