Rúgbrauð – Icelandic Rye bread

This is the last of the Þorri recipes.

Rúgbrauð is great topped with butter and cheese, or with home-made lamb pâté (recipe will be posted later). Serve it well buttered on the side with poached fish, or Danish style with cold pickled herring (recipe will be posted later). Eat it with sliced hangikjöt or ham or spread it with cream cheese, and if there is anything left, use it to make bread soup.
The brown slices at the front of this photo are rye bread.
Also included are sections of flat bread, and in the background
are jars of picked herring, in curry sauce, in vinegar, and in tomato sauce.
600 g sugar
400 g whole wheat flour
2 kg rye flour
1 tsp salt
50 g dry yeast
1,5 l milk

convert measures

Mix the ingredients together and knead well.

To cook in used milk-cartons:
Half-fill each 1 liter carton, pressing well to avoid air bubbles in the bread. Stand on the bottom of the oven and bake at 100°C for about 12 hours.

To cook in loaf pans:
Press the dough into tins/bread pans and stand in an oven-pan, half-filled with boiling water. Bake as above, adding extra water whenever necessary. This method is called seyðing, which translates as "slow-boiling".

One type of rúgbrauð is called hverabrauð, or "hot-spring-bread". This is bread that has been cooked in a hot spring, or buried in sand/mud at the edge of a hot spring and allowed to cook there.


Unknown said…
I am doing a culture presentation on Iceland for one of my classes. I was interested in making this bread, but I was curious as to how many loaves it makes. Also, is it possible to half this recipe? I appreciate it.
Bibliophile said…
I must admit I have never made this recipe, I have only eaten the result. I'm not sure how many loaves the recipe makes, but I would guess about 6 to 8. The recipe can be halved and even quartered without the taste changing much.
Good luck with your presentation.
William Cherry said…
wondering if you have a honey roll recipe...

trying a translation of this recipe:
50 gr. ger (pressu) eða 11 gr. þurrger (1 pk)
8 msk. volgt vatn
4 dl. mjólk MILK
8 tsk.  hunang HONEY
2 tsk. gróft salt 
ca. 4 msk. olía OIL TABLESPOON 1 msk = 15ml
800 gr. hveiti WHEAT

Leysið ger og hunang upp í volga vatninu. Setjið helminginn af hveitinu og allt hitt út í og hnoðið. Setjið svo smám saman restina af hveitinu út í.
(Ef ég er með þurrger þá set ég öll þurrefnin saman, þar sem talinn gerinn, velgi mjólk og vatn, leysi hunangið upp í vökvanum, set olíu saman við og helli þessu yfir þurrefnin og geri rest eins.)

Deigið á svo að hefast á volgum stað í 20 mín.

Síðan eru gerðar bollur, settar á plötu og látnar hefast í 1 klst. Það má gjarnan setja rakt viskustykki yfir.

Að lokum má pensla bollurnar með mjólk eða eggi. Bollurnar bakast í miðjum ofni í ca. 10-12 mínútur (þar til þær eru fallega gylltar) við 225°C.
Hi, I was wondering if you have any idea how this recipe could be made without using yeast, and instead using sourdough. I have also seen versions of it using baking powder. Also, I was also wondering if you know what is the difference between rugbraud and the Danish rugbrod. Thanks in advance and thanks for a great blog.

All best,

Bibliophile said…
Thanks, Beatriz.
As I have no experience using sourdough, I don't know how this recipe can be adapted to it.

I do know that historically there was a type of Icelandic rúgbrauð that was made with sourdough. I think it was more similar to the Danish type than to the type presented in this recipe.

Compared with this bread, traditional Danish rugbrød is made with sourdough, and is drier, more crumbly and not as sweet. In fact, the Danish version contains no added sugar at all and relies on the fermentation for what sweetness there is.
thanks! That is very helpful.


i ate this bread every day i was in iceland and loved it! i definitely want to try making it for myself soon! thanks for sharing the recipe
Anonymous said…
Can anyone tell me the American recipe quanities?
Bibliophile said…
Anon, try this website: http://www.onlineconversion.com/cooking.htm
LondonLara said…

I've just returned to London after a trip to Iceland. We had a wonderful time in one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen.

Each week at work we have a Monday Morning Bake-off, where each participating colleague has a go at baking something for the rest of us. My turn is coming up soon and I thought I would give hverabrauð a try. We still have some left over from our time in Myvatn where we met some ladies collecting their baked goods from the hotsprings. Obviously I don't have a hotspring in my garden, but I wondered if you thought it possible to replicate in my gas oven, and if so, if you have a recipe for it?

Thanks so much!
Bibliophile said…
LondonLara, hverabrauð is really just a term for rúgbrauð that has been cooked in a hot spring. If you use the water-bath method I describe in the recipe, you should get a similar result. I can't guarantee it will be exactly the same, since there are many different recipes, but it will be quite similar.
LondonLara said…
Thanks! So, I guess it would be OK to replace the sugar with molasses? This seemed to be what made our bread so sweet, and it's definitely the aroma that over-rode the smell of sulphur on the drive back to Akureyri!
Bibliophile said…
Traditionally we don't use molasses in black bread, but it's nevertheless possible that there was molasses (or maybe brown sugar) in that particular recipe. If you can figure out how much molasses to use in place of the sugar, definitely try it. You might have to reduce the milk slightly.
BTW, I think I have a North-American adaptation of the traditional Icelandic rye bread recipe that contains molasses. I'll see if I can dig it up and post it.
Anonymous said…
Just came back from iceland with a loaf of sweet bread in my backpack in order to make delicious bread soup. Now I can't find the recipe. Could you possibly post it? Would be great!
Bibliophile said…
Anon, I posted it several years ago. Here's the link: http://icecook.blogspot.com/2006/02/icelandic-bread-soup-brauspa.html
matt mcConnell said…
I'm just back from Iceland and would love to be able to duplicate the wonderful sweet rye bread I ate in Iceland here in the UK. I have two questions, though:

- Is it necessary to let the bread rise before putting in the oven, as with most leavened breads?

- Using a milk carton to bake the loaves is a unique method. I didn't happen to spot a carton in Iceland; are they the Tetra pack UHT type, or paper card ones, or plastic?
Bibliophile said…
It will definitely not hurt the bread to let it rise for an hour or so before baking.

The milk cartons here are paper, coated with what I think is plastic. They are mainly used to bake hot spring bread, because of the small top opening and because they are easy to seal off from sand and water that might seep into them from the outside. Loaf pans are fine for the oven - the shape is a little bit different, but the flavour will be the same. Just seal them with aluminum foil.
Unknown said…
Hello, Jo :)

How many loaves of bread will your recipe make?
It appears to make a lot of dough. I only have one bread pan. Do I need two or three?

Bibliophile said…
Unknown, you will need at least 6-8 regular bread pans for the full recipe, but you can halve and even quarter the recipe to make less bread.
Another solution would be to bake it in something other than a bread pan, e.g. a dutch oven, a roasting pan or even a large tin like the ones Quality Street chocolates are sold in.

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