Monday, January 17, 2011

Icelandic Flatbread

From the Norsefolk_2 mailing list I obtained a pointer to this page, with a video, brief history, and a recipe for making Icelandic flatbread.

The narrator claims that Icelandic flatbread goes back to Viking times, though as you'd expect no support is cited for the statement. However, the recipe does offer some suggestions for coming up with a more plausible "Viking bread".
  • The recipe given uses primarily rye flour, a little wheat flour, and some water (it adds baking powder, but as that was a post-Viking period invention, I would ignore it for purposes of my experiment).
  • The cakes should be rolled out much thinner than I rolled mine--to about a millimeter or two of thickness.
  • The recipe suggests poking a number of holes in the cake before frying, to eliminate air bubbles.
  • The recipe recommends grilling the cake until there are black spots on the side against the griddle (that matches what I did, at least).
  • The recipe also recommends dipping the cakes briefly in lukewarm water when they come off the grill and keeping them between damp towels so they don't dry out and harden. 
The narrator goes on to relate that such breads are sold in groceries in Iceland, and that they are generally eaten with smoked lamb, smoked salmon, or trout. 

I think I will try their "Icelandic" recipe.  I may also re-try the recipe from the Hurstwic site, using the techniques shown in the video.


  1. I've tried one very similar to it that I found here:

    It turned out very well, I would say, except it was very cracker-like when first pulled off the heat, but the hot bath softens it up quite a bit. I also flipped it and cooked both sides and that might have been the reason why they were so dry.

    Like most viking foodstuffs it's hard to figure out much about it other than it was consumed... but one of the more plausible recipes, for sure.



  2. My husband observed that maybe some of the Viking flatbreads *were* "crackerlike"--they may have been made to take on voyages or to store for the winter.