Loaf 4: thunder bread from Iceland

A bread named after an Icelandic god, I thought. No, this bread is named after the noise your rear will make after you’ve eaten too much of it.
icelandic thunder bread

With an average July temperature of 10-13 degrees, Iceland is not the best place for arable farming. For certain periods in its history, it hasn’t grown grains at all. The traditional cuisine is big on the animal: lots of fish, lots of lamb. Dried fish with butter has the eat-with-every-meal role of daily bread in the rest of Europe. Bread had luxury status.

Thunder bread used to made by burying the loaf next to some geothermal rocks and coming back the next day. Steaming it like a Christmas pudding is a decent alternative.

Taste test: This is a sweet, almost cake-y bread, with the dense hard nuttiness of rye. Surprisingly dry yet more-ish.

Recipe notes: I halved this recipe, which produced a small round dumpling of a loaf. My 1 litre pudding basin could have taken three times as much bread, but would it have steamed properly? Next time, I’d cook the full amount and split it in two as suggested.

Fusion musings: Stuff it full of interesting seeds, nuts and whole grains, and halve the sugar.

icelandic thunder bread 2

I have upped the milk quantity of the original a little, because I think mine was too dry. You will need two tin cans, or two small ceramic pudding basins.


2.5 cups rye flour
1.5 cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 cup brown sugar
1 cup scalded milk, cooled until lukewarm
1 tbsp molasses

Let’s make some thunder

1. Mix together the dry ingredients and dissolve the molasses in the warm milk. Stir the milk into the flours and knead until the dough is cohesive.

2. Butter your tins cans or ceramic basins, divide the dough and pop it in. The dough should come two-thirds of the way up the tins, to leave room for rising.

3. Cover the tins with foil and secure them with string, leaving some space at the top for the dough to rise above the edge.

4. Simmer in a slow cooker or a pot for four hours. Don’t let the pot boil dry, don’t burn your house down.

Eat it fresh with smoked fish or pate.


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