Iceland is known for its many geothermal active areas. One of them is Laugarvatn. Literally translated to “lake of the hot spring” and approximetly one hour drive from Reykjavík. Read here how creative usage Icelanders make of this heat from the middle of the earth.
It was Christmas time and this means family visits. After eating as much food as possibly can be eaten there comes the time for trips. Iceland is simply designed for exploring. Funny enough, this time my mom picked the destination where we should head for a nice little day trip. Usually it is me who makes the suggestions where to go and what to explore. Even they have been here before several times there is always something new I can show them. Before my parents came to Iceland for Christmas they were watching a TV show about habits from around the world. Topic that time: Geothermal baking in Iceland. It presented how people burry food such as bread, eggs or other stuff, which is perfect for being slow cooked. A hole is digged in hot sand or hot earth and then been burried for several hours, up to even days. My mums colleagues also saw the show and so it was generally agreed when they talked about it the next day at work: This is something super cool and she shall go and see it while visiting me. So, we did.
We started our day very early, driving long time in the long dark arctic morning which gave my parents a hard time to get on with a normal daily rhythm. After all, the sun only rises – officially – at 11:30 in December. Even though you have an hour or so of sluggish twilight, I admit, starting zestful into the day isn’t one of the easiest endevours. The sunlight which follows is rather unwilling to fulfill its daily duty and calls it a day after only 4 hours of daylight. Icelandes call these days “Skammdegi” – which simply means “short days”. But nevertheless we headed South to discover some waterfalls, they haven’t seen yet. One of them we couldn’t find, since we had visited it in the summer time and now in winter with all the snow, we didn’t find our way anymore. Besides we were running out of time, since we had an appointment in the geothermal bakery.
At Laugarvatn – the lake consists of half warm and half cold water – a spa is situated called Fontana. They make use of the hot spring water and built a decent retreat. As a treat they also bake geothermally Icelandic rye bread as it has been done by the residents of the village nestled between the lake and the high mountains for hundreds of years. That’s also where I got the recipe from for a typical Icelandic Rye bread, which is usually eaten with salted butter. Sometimes it is also eaten with smoked trout or salmon and is a perfect with Plokkfiskur.
(Geothermal) Rye Bread Recipe
- 600 gr rye flour
- 240 gr wheat flour
- 240 gr sugar
- 4 tbsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 l milk
- 250 ml water
All there is left to do is to mix all the ingredients together and fill the dough into a greased baking dish and bake it preferrably in an geothermally bubbling hot sand hole. I am sure 99% of you reading this recipe do for some unexplainable reason NOT have such an geothermal boiling sand at hand, you might want to cook it at less than 100° C degrees for as long as your budget for your monthly electricity bill allows you to bake it.
The girl who made the presentation told us, she usually doesn`t eat Icelandic rye bread since it is so sweet. But she likes this Laugarvatn version, because of its taste developed during the long baking session. I guess, it is really crucial to have it slow baked to develop this distinguished taste. After you finished baking, you should cut the bread in half so it doesn’t continue to bake in the middle.