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Icelandic Thunder Bread - Steamed Rye Bread

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Iceland's hallmark rye bread

Icelandic Thunder Bread

photo ©Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com
Icelandic ryebread, or rugbrauð, traditionally prepared over the course of twelve or more hours by placing the dough into covered pots and sinking these into geothermal springs, can be more quickly prepared in a slow cooker. It's very similar in consistency to Boston Brown Bread.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups rye flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and slightly cooled until lukewarm
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 cups (approximately) hot water

Preparation:

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in the brown sugar. Stir the molasses into the warm milk until it dissolves, then slowly stir milk into the dry ingredients (Note: The dough hook of a mixer works great for this). Knead the dough until it is shiny and all the flour is incorporated. Divide into two sections.

Butter the insides of two tin cans (at least 19 ounces each – watch out for sharp edges) or of two ceramic bowls or ramekins, each one large enough to hold 1 1/2 cups of batter (Important: The dough will rise while cooking, and so whichever molds you use should only be filled 2/3 below the top edge).

Tent the molds with aluminum foil, leaving about an inch of air space for the bread to rise inside as it cooks. Secure the edges of the foil tightly around the rims of the molds with twine or rubber bands.

Place the molds in your slow cooker (rest cans, if using, on a trivet or canning jar lid inside the cooker to help the steam circulate). Pour in enough hot water to cover the lower half of the molds (about two cups).

Put the lid on the cooker and raise heat to high. Allow to simmer for 4 hours, checking occasionally to ensure that the water hasn't boiled out.

Remove bread and serve immediately with butter, cold pickled herring, lamb pate, cold meats, or cheese.

Yield: Two 1-pound loaves of Icelandic rugbrauð.

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