Island holiday traditions: Vetebrod on Chappy

Since a Swedish exchange student brought it to their house, the Knight- Morris family on Chappy has been making Vetebrod at Christmastime. Left to right, Elliot Morris, Margaret Knight, Lily K. Morris and Sidney Morris. — courtesy Margaret Knight

In 1966 my family hosted a Swedish exchange student for the year. Part of her family’s Christmas tradition was to make Vetebrod, a sweet yeasted bread with raisins and cinnamon, like a coffeecake ring. It quickly became our family recipe and, later, my own family’s. I made it with my daughter when she was little, and now she treats it as a treasured family recipe. I’ve made it every year for at least thirty years. We give it as Christmas presents — some of the Chappy ferry captains have had it for breakfast around this time of year for nearly that long. Several years ago, when I tired of making the bread after so many years, my husband started helping out. We make it slightly differently, but it always comes out delicious. I went to visit our exchange student in Sweden after many years of making the bread, and was a little disappointed to discover that Vetebrod translated to, simply, wheat bread. I thought it would mean something really special, like it is to my family.

A recipe for Vetebrod

8 cups bread flour (white or whole or a combination)

2 1/2 c. lukewarm milk

2 pkg. yeast

1 c. sugar (or less)

1/2 t. salt

3/4 – 1 cup melted butter

cinnamon (opt. cardomon, coriander)


Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add most of the butter, sugar, and salt. Start adding the flour, stirring it in, and then kneading it until you have a soft pliable dough (it might be less than 8 cups). Let the dough rise until double and then punch down and divide into 3 parts. Roll out each part into a rectangle, brush on melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Roll up the rectangle from the long side (like a jelly roll) and form into a circle. Make decorative slashes in the top. Let rise for 15-30 minutes, and then 375º for 20-30 minutes. Brush the top with butter when it’s done. Best eaten warm or reheated.