Icelandic Baked Goods

Magazine Icelandic Baked Goods

Icelandic baked goods deserve a blog of their own.

(Truly…going carb free is damn hard over here.)

The capital area alone has over 20 bakeries and almost every small town a bakery of their own. We even have a special traffic information sign. The professional traditions of Icelandic bakers have somewhat of a Danish influence since the first professional bakers in Iceland where Danish.

One can say that each bakery has their speciality, some in wedding cakes, others in sourdough bread or cupcakes. But most of them also carry what we would call Icelandic Classics and certainly what most of us would want for our visitors to try while they are here.

Icelanders in general take pride in being able to feed their visitors, and feed them well and if you have an opportunity to be guest in an Icelandic home you will see what I mean. Icelanders tend to go a bit overboard when playing host. They try to cater to every need and make sure there is plenty for everyone.

Now assuming you like your bread and cakes, try to fit into your busy schedule to go to an all Icelandic bakery, if you make it all the way to the suburbs, even better.

We’ll start of by mentioning Snúður - A huge, fluffy cinnamon roll covered with chocolate, caramel or pink icing or melted chocolate. A popular thing is to buy snúður and kókómjólk which is the Icelandic chocolate milk.

Vínarbrauð -  is our version of Danish pastry – filled with almond paste, vanilla custard and icing. The posh version is Sérbakað vínarbrauð or Separately baked pastry.

Kleina - a small fried dough bun. The dough is rolled out and cut into small trapezoids, with a special cutting wheel, kleinujárn. One cuts a slit in the middle and then one end is pulled through the slit to form a knot and then deep fried in oil. Kleina is something we love to offer our visitors and most can give you a tip of a fantastic recipe from their grandmother. You could start a war by starting to debate on what kind of kleinur are the best. Small or large, soft or a bit crunchy. Should one use buttermilk or not? - you get the picture.

Skúffukaka - Baking Tray cake. This is a dark chocolate fluffy cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkled with ground coconut. There is a version of this in Sweden as well called kärleksmums (love-yums) but we skipped the romanticism and just call it as it is, A baking tray cake.

Hjónabandssæla -  Marital Bliss. A cake filled with oats and butter and a layer of rhubarb jam. This cake is normally cut into squares and served with whipped cream. That being said a cake this deeply Icelandic we have the same issue as with the kleinur, no family has the same recipe. Butter or margarine? One egg or four? White sugar or brown. Like in every marriage everyone knows what is just right for them.

Flatkökur - Unleavened rye flatbread, is a soft, round, thin and dark and the most traditional form of eating flatkaka is with butter and hangikjöt (thinly sliced smoked lamb) This is traditionally served in all kinds of family gatherings and very practical to take along as a snack on hikes for example.

Ostaslaufa - A cheese bow, white, fluffy bread, with a cheese spread filling. Half covered in poppy and/or sesame seeds. Very popular amongst Icelandic children

Hnallþóra - A what-a? Yes, a Hnallþóra is often used as a common denominator for finer, larger and decorated cakes.  The referral comes from a character in the book Under the Glacier by Nobel Prize author Halldór Laxness. Where she, Hnallþóra, insists on serving multiple sorts of extravagant cakes. Traditionally this refers to layered sponge cakes, perhaps with an extra layer of meringue, with a whipped cream filling and topped with fresh or canned fruit.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but a little overview of what to look forward to when it comes to fulfilling your taste buds’ desires in Iceland.

Bon Appétit!

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