Icelandic food is almost the only piece of Icelandic culture to have survived continuously through the generations in Vatnabyggd. The revival of the Icelandic culture has naturally included the food as part of the community heritage.


Jonasson, Ed on Umslaug cookies
10 December 2005
Mozart, SK Canada


[Jonasson, Ed]
...and you make the dough - and make a cookie, fold it over and they call it an envelope in Icelandic
[Interviewer] Did they put anything in the cookie?
Yeah you put prunes in there. You take the dough and fold it over and pinch it all around, but you put a spoon of prunes in the center. they call that 'emsla' [umslaug] I don't know how to say it, but it's a real nice cookie.



1 large lamb flank
1 tbsp. salt
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp. saltpeter
1 small onion chopped fine

Use the largest flank about 2lbs. Remove all the bones and excess fat. Place skin side down on the table and sprinkle with a mixture of the salt, spices and saltpeter and onions. Roll up tightly and sew firmly across the edge and ends. Rub the outer surface with salt and wrap in wax paper. Let stand in a cool place for 4-5 days to allow the meat to absorb the seasoning. Turn it 2 or 3 times during this time. Then cover with cold water. Bring slowly to a boil and cook steadily for 2-2 ½ hours. Drain well and place in a shallow pan with a weight on top.

Beef can be substituted for lamb, and in the Vatnabyggd area usually is.


Icelandic Brown Bread

6 cups dark rye flour
3 c. whole wheat flour
4 ½ tsp. baking soda
2-3 tsp salt
2 c. dark cooking molasses
1 ½ litres (6 c.) buttermilk (use enough to make the dough the consistency of thick porridge)

Put all dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in molasses and buttermilk. Stir until well blended.

Put into an aluminum roaster pan and cover loosely with a tent made of tin foil.

Bake at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes, then lower heat to 225º and bake for 7 hours. Remove from oven and let stand until cooled. Cut into blocks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and leave 8 hours to soften outer crust.


Pannukakur – Icelandic Pancakes

-Stina Sigurdson's recipe

2 eggs
1/3 c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. vanilla
½ c. sour cream or buttermilk (sour milk can be used instead; add 1 tsp. vinegar to milk)
1 ½ c. flour
2 c. sweet milk

Beat eggs, add sugar, salt & vanilla and cinnamon. Dissolve soda in a little boiling water & mix with sour cream, add flour with baking powder sifted together. Beat well. Gradually stir in the sweet milk.

To bake:
Use fairly heavy griddle pan. Rub pan with butter tied in a cloth. Lift pan off the fire while pouring about 1/5 cup of batter on it. Tip griddle around until entire bottom is covered. Set back on fire as soon as possible, then turn and bake on other side. Sprinkle with sugar and roll.

(this recipe was written down in the forties and has not been updated for modern cooking methods)



6 eggs
½ c. sugar
1 c. milk
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. vanilla

Beat eggs. Add vanilla, melted butter and dry ingredients. Mix well. Add milk gradually. In a heavy frying pan, on medium to medium-high heat (hot enough to cook batter quickly), add a little butter or margarine and pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Flip when the batter is cooked through. Brown other side.

When cool enough to pick up (believe me, it's hard to wait that long), sprinkle with sugar, roll, and eat!


Vinar terta (Vienna Tart) is very popular locally and is sure to turn up in any local cook book. Each recipe is a little different and every cook has their own favorite. Dates can be substituted for prunes, but it doesn't taste the same.



1 c. butter
1 ½ c. granulated (white) sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp. milk
1 dessert spoon (approx. ½ tbsp) almond flavouring
4 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cardamom seed (optional)

Cream softened butter, add sugar gradually and eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients, add gradually to first mixture. Knead in all the flour and divide into 5 equal parts. Pat each part into greased 9" round pan. Bake at 375ºF to a golden brown. Remove from tins while still hot as they become crisp when cool. Cool and put together with prune filling.

Bring to a boil 1 lb. prunes (boiled, stoned and put through food chopper), ½ c. prune juice (from boiled prunes), 1c. granulated (white) sugar, juice and rind from ½ lemon, 1 tsp vanilla, ½ tsp. cardamom seed. Spread over cake round. [this is a layer cake so spread ¼ of the filling on one cake round, place another cake round on top and keep going to the last and fifth cake round on top] Ice if desired. 4 tbsp. soft butter, 1 ¼ c. icing sugar, 1 tsp. lemon juice a little cream and 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract. [Wrap in waxed paper or plastic for a day or two to let it soften]


Vinartarta 2
1 ½ c. white sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
¾ c. milk
4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix as for any cookie dough. Roll out, then cut around large dinner plate. Make 6 or 7 layers. Bake in oven at 375 for 10 mins. Put layers together with prune or date filling and top this with a layer of almond paste. Ice as you wish.
Prune filling:
1 c. sugar
1 ½ lbs. prunes
¼ tsp cloves

Boil prunes in water until tender, remove stones and put through food chopper. Add sugar and cloves. Boil over low heat in double boiler until sugar dissolves. If too dry add a very little prune juice until mixture is right consistency for spreading. Cool. Spread filling between layers and ice as directed.


Sot Suppe
[Sweet Soup]

2 qt. water [2 litres]
1 c. sago
1 c. raisins
4 tbsp. vinegar
1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. sweetened fruit juice
1 lb. prunes [454 grams]

Boil prunes and raisins until well done. Then add all other ingredients and boil until sago is clear.

[Sago is a starch in powdered or pearl form. Possibly it can be replaced with tapioca or some other thickening agent]


Skyr - Icelandic Curds
Skyr is not widely available outside Iceland, which can make it hard to produce in other countries. The reason for this is that in order to make skyr, you need some skyr. There is a special bacteria culture that gives the skyr its unique taste, and the best way of getting the bacteria into a new batch is by mixing a portion of skyr into it. Sour cream or buttermilk can be used in place of skyr, but the taste will be slightly different.
This recipe makes 16 to 20 servings, and can easily be reduced. The skyr can be stored for 4-5 days in a closed container.
10 liters skim milk*
8-9 drops OR 1 1/2 tablet rennet
10 grams skyr = þéttir (if not available, use 1 tblsp. live culture sour cream or buttermilk)

*Skim milk should preferably not be pasteurized (the skyr will taste better).
1. Heat the skim milk up to 86-90°C, and cool slowly for about 2 hours, down to 39°C. Stir the prepared þéttir with a little boiled milk and mix into the milk with the rennet (if you are using dry rennet, dissolve in a little water before adding).
2. Close the cooking pot and wrap in towels or a thick blanket. The milk should curdle in about 5 hours. If it curdles in less than 4 ½ hours, the curds will be coarse, but if it curdles in more than 5 hours, the skyr will be so thick it will be difficult to strain. When the milk is curdled, cut into the curds with a knife. When you can make a cut which will not close immediately, then you can go on to the next stage.
3. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or a fine linen cloth and pour in the skyr. Tie the ends of the cloth together over the top and hang over a bucket or other container so the whey can drip off. If the skyr-making has been successful, there will be little whey, and it will not float over the curds, but will be visible along the edges of the sieve and in the cuts you made in the surface. You can judge the quality of the skyr from the appearance of the curds when you pour them into the sieve. If the skyr is good, it will crack and fall apart in pieces, but should neither be thin nor lumpy. Do not put a layer thicker than 7-9 cm. into the sieve. Keep the sieve in a well ventilated room, with a temperature no higher than 12° and no lower than 0° Celsius. The skyr should be ready in 12-24 hours.
4. The skyr should be firm and look dry when ready. The whey can be used as a drink, to pickle food, or as a replacement for white wine in cooking.
Possible problems: If the whey does not leak off the curds or floats over the curds, or the curds do not shrink from the edges of the sieve, then something is wrong. The milk has not been heated to a high enough temperature or has been cooled too quickly, so that the rennet has not had time to work. The more milk you curdle at a time, the relatively less þéttir and rennet you need. A large container cools slower than a small one, and the effects of þéttir and rennet last longer.
About the þéttir: It is best to use fresh skyr for þéttir. If the skyr is sour, it should be mixed into the milk while it is still 80°-90°C hot. This will remove the sourness. Don't add the rennet until the milk has cooled to approx. 40°C. When the weather is cold, it is best to mix it in when the milk is a little over 40°C (say, 41° or 42°). In cold weather, the milk also needs to be covered more tightly while it curdles. This is especially important if you are making a small portion of skyr.
Serving: Eat the skyr as it is, or stir some milk and sugar into it and serve with cream and fruit/berries (blueberries are traditional, but crowberries or strawberries are also good). It is also good with müesli and/or brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.
The historical information is taken from the teaching leaflet "Súrt og Sætt", by Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, published by Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga, 1998.
Recipe comes from "Nýja Matreiðslubókin" by Halldóra Eggertsdóttir & Sólveig Benediktsdóttir, Reykjavík, MCMLXI.

Taken from Jo's Icelandic Recipes at http://www.isholf.is/gullis/jo/Miscellaneous.htm#skyr