One of my favourite Christmas traditions in Iceland is
And not any food. It’s called laufabrauð a.k.a. “leaf bread”, a piece of deep-fried heaven. Before I start rambling about how perfect this dish is, let me tell you shortly about the history of the laufabrauð-tradition.
It was first mentioned around 1730, and originates from North Iceland. Making laufabrauð is a popular tradition nowadays in the whole country. Families get together to knead, cut and fry all day and the result is this beautifully decorated crunchy leaf-bread.
If someone feels adventurous, you can try to make it at home, it’s not difficult at all (believe me, if I can make it, everyone can).
All you need is:
1 kg wheat flour 30 g sugar 1 tbsp baking powder 1 tbsp salt 600 ml milk, scalded 1 tbsp butter
Some oil to fry, and a pot for frying.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Heat the milk to boiling point and melt the butter in it. Pour it into the dry ingredients and mix well. Knead into a ball of dense dough. Roll into sausage shapes and store under a slightly damp cloth, otherwise it dries out quickly. Cut or pinch off portions and flatten with a rolling pin. These breads are traditionally very thin – a good way to tell if the dough is thin enough is to check if you can read the headings of a newspaper through it. Cut into circular cakes, using a medium-sized plate as a guide to ensure even size. Decorate by cutting out patterns (it’s called leaf-bread because of the leaf-shaped patterns that are cut into it but feel free to unleash your artistic freedom). Heat the oil in a deep, wide pot. Prick the cakes with a fork to avoid blistering, and drop into the oil, one at a time, taking care that they do not fold (and that you don’t burn yourself). The cakes will sink as you drop them into the oil. When they resurface, turn them over. They are ready when they are golden in colour, it only takes a few seconds to fry each one. Remove them from the oil and put on a piece of kitchen paper to drain. It’s good to press a plate or something similar on top of the cake to ensure that it will be flat enough. Stack up and allow it to cool. When cool, stack in a cookie tin. Stored in a cool, dry place, leaf bread will keep for a long time, but who wouldn’t want to eat them right away?
They are usually served at Christmas dinners with hangikjöt (smoked lamb) or some butter. But you can eat them however you like, They make an amazing snack if you’re bored with potato chips and feel like trying something new.