The beauty of baking ‘volcano bread’ underground in Iceland
Watch how rye bread is baked in covered holes using the magical heat of hot springs.
Oh, Iceland. Not only is the island nation the most peaceful country in the world, but they have that landscape! Plus terrific turf houses and Northern lights and a political party named after pirates and “hidden people” (AKA elves) and the list goes on. To top it all off, they can bake their bread buried in ground heated by Earth’s fury.
Iceland owes much of its singularity to its location on a geologic hotspot, one that supplies it with all kinds of volcanic activity and geothermal generosity, which is put to great use. Around 99 percent of Iceland's electricity is produced from renewable sources, much of it geothermal. But long before geothermal power plants were built, people in Iceland were simply employing the heat and hot water offered from hot springs for things like washing and baking – notably, baking the "hot spring bread" known as hverabrauð. Shown above, a hverabrauð bakery, of sorts.
Public Domain/CC BY 2.0
In the video below they give hot spring bread the admittedly more poetic name “volcano bread” – but no matter what you call it, it’s a beautiful thing. To mix the ingredients, put them in a covered pot and sink the whole shebang into the ground for 24 hours to arrive at a giant loaf of steaming bread? Heaven. The long, steady low-temperature (212 degrees F) gives the final product a cakey texture, it’s said. I’d imagine it’s much like a steamed bread, almost like a cake or traditional pudding. Regardless, that it’s cooked by the earth itself is enough to make this my favorite bread ever. Now I just need to taste it.