It’s not the healthiest recipe in the world, but Icelandic Leaf Bread is a tradition dating back centuries, and with some modern adjustments, can make a wonderful addition to Christmas celebrations.
Laufabraud or Leaf Bread is so called because it has an intricate pattern incised to it: the pattern is a metal cutter, usually leaf shaped, and often owned by a family as an heirloom. It originated in North Iceland, but has spread across the country and is so famous it has its own stamp!
- 1 kilogram wheat flour
- 30 grams sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 500-600 ml milk (preferably low fat)
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- Fat for frying (sunflower oil is good) and a tall cooking pot for frying the bread.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the milk just to boiling and melt the butter in it.
Pour the hot milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until cool enough to handle then knead into a ball. It will not be as elastic as normal dough.
Roll the dough into around four sausage shapes and put under a damp cloth while you work on it. Cut off about a double walnut size and roll it out into a circle – you should be able to see the writing on a poster through each bread! Now take a tea plate, lay it on each circle and cut round so they are evenly sized.
You can store Leaf Bread uncooked by layering it with baking paper and storing it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Now have fun cutting out patterns using diamonds and bead shapes while you heat the cooking oil until it’s just below smoking. Prick each bread lightly with a fork to stop it bubbling and drop one into the fat, it will sink and then rise, when it reaches the top, turn it using a barbecue fork and when it is golden on both sides lift it out and put on kitchen paper to drain. You can set a plate on each bread as it cooks, to keep it flat. When the breads are cold, store them in a tin, they will keep for several weeks.
Serve with winter salads and strong cheeses as a tasty age-old accompaniment to winter feasts.