When I returned from Reykjavik a couple of weeks ago I was already missing Cafe Loki's homemade dark rye bread. Luckily I found their recipe (allegedly) online, along with a bunch of other rúgbrauð recipes to refer to.
Before we continue, you should know that this bread takes SEVEN HOURS to bake. The good news is that's the hardest part: the bread batter itself is just seven simple ingredients mixed together and poured into a tin. All you have to do is be patient while it bakes.
Dark, dense, mildly sweet and with a slight sour note from buttermilk, rúgbrauð gains its intense colour and flavour from a looooooong bake at a low temperature. This dark rye bread used to be cooked by burying it in the ground by natural hot springs, where it would bake slowly for hours. Nowadays, although Iceland's hot springs are still going strong, we have the modern convenience of ovens to save us from the labours of digging and washing off soil.
Did I mention it takes seven hours to bake? Well, you could actually do this overnight to save you from tying the oven up all day. At first I was a bit hesitant about the safety aspect of this, despite having an electric oven that's very reliable. I didn't want to burn the house down in my sleep! But then when I actually made it this morning I could have kicked myself: the heat is so low, the risk posed by the unattended oven is minimal. In fact, plenty of people roast turkeys overnight for Christmas on a low heat. Next time I'll try the overnight method, so I can wake up to fresh rye bread. Wouldn't that be awesome?
That being said, bake overnight at your own risk. You know your oven: personally I wouldn't try it with a gas oven, but there must be people that do. If you think you might be putting yourself or others in danger, just don't do it.
This bread is best eaten within a day or two of making: as much as I adore rúgbrauð, I couldn't eat a whole loaf in two days all by myself. All of the recipes I found seemed to make either one or two huge loaves. I played around with the quantities of Cafe Loki's recipe, and in the end I made the perfect amount of mixture to pour into my little 1lb loaf pan.
(See how I've lined it? This way it won't stick and I can just lift my mini loaf right out).
Here I've served it buttered with herrings and sliced egg Cafe Loki-style, but it's also great with smoked salmon/ trout, smoked lamb, soup, jam, or even served as a dessert with ice cream (or as ice cream!) In fact next time I'll double the recipe, eat half as it is, and save the other half to make a Cafe Loki-style rye bread ice cream. It sounds weird, but trust me: it's unbelievably good.
115g dark rye flour
45g wholemeal flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
A good pinch of salt
5tbsp golden syrup
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line and grease a small 1lb loaf tin
2) Mix all of your ingredients together with a spoon (it'll look like porridge)
3) Scrape the thick batter into your tin and cover loosely with foil (make a slightly domed shape as the dough will rise)
4) Pop in the oven and immediately turn the heat right down to 110 degrees C
5) Sleep/ wait for 7 hours while it bakes
6) Remove from the oven and cool
7) Lift out of the pan, slice, serve absolutely however you like and enjoy!
(Did you notice that there are seven ingredients, seven steps and seven hours of cooking time?)