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Baking Icelandic & Finnish Breads

Rúgbrauð & Kalakukko are some culinary challenges that someone can try for a cooking resolution in the new year.

Cooking may not be a resolution for someone in the new year, but these recipes are sure to get friends interested in Nordic culture and cuisine. In Iceland, barkers bury pots of rúgbrauð on top of geothermal pools full of water and return the next day to take out the bread and serve it with smoked cheese and fish.

In Finland, breads are filled with two pounds of rutabaga or fish and covered with thick strips of pork meat and baked and buttered until they are golden brown. Kalakukko is a dish that many Finnish people know you could eat as a whole meal or as a snack for a longer work day.

Hopefully, these cooking challenges are an interest for new year chefs wanting to make more exotic dishes for large parties.

How to Make Rúgbrauð

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of rye flour
  • 2 cups of wheat flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 5 cups of milk

Directions:

Combine the dry ingredients first before pouring in the milk. Make sure to add the milk gradually as you stir. Prepare a bread tray or a large pot that can be used in the oven after it has been preheated to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. The bread cooks for 5 hours and 30 minutes. This recipe comes from Sigurður "Siggi" Rafn Hilmarsson, a local baker from Iceland. 

How to Make Kalakukko

Filling:

  • 2 lbs of fish or rutabaga (fish must be small for dish like sardines, pilchards, or herrings)
  • 1 1/2 lbs of pork
  • 3 tablespoons of salt

Bread:

  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 3 1/4 cups of rye flour
  • 1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 ounce of active dry yeast

Directions:

For vegetarian dishes, peel the rutabagas and chop them into bite sized parts. If you would like to try the traditional kalakukko, clean the fish by removing the fins, scales, and entrails (organs). Leaving the fish heads on is optional.

Mix the flours and salt. Add yeast to the water and wait for the yeast to fully dissolve to mix into the dough and blend well. Set aside a small portion of the dough to be rolled out later on. The rest of the dough should be rolled out into batches of 3/4 inch thick circles for placing the internal mixture inside.

Layer some of the pork onto the rolled out rye flour, then add your filling of fish or rutabaga, cover that layer of filling with another layer of pork. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Lift and pinch the edges of the dough together so that there is a seam at the top of the kalakukko. Use water to glue the seams together and ensure there are no holes at the top of the seam. Scrape the bottom and around the seam and plug any holes with some of the dough set aside or use some of the scrapings to close small cracks. Place the kalakukko seam facing down and set aside to rest.

Once it has been fully rested, place the kalakukko with the seam facing down into the 500 degree oven to brown the dough.  Then lower the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and let it cook for about 4 to 7 hours. You can brush some melted butter over the top of the dough. Any other holes that show up in the dough, continue to use the dough that was set aside.

Hopefully some of these tasty treats from Iceland and Finland will be a great adventure into some Nordic cooking. 

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