Oh I love this cold weather hardy grain, it’s super tasty, high in fibre and sustaining. You’ll find it’s the dominant ingredient in most crispbreads across the Nordic region and not forgetting the large array of dark rye bread too.
You can’t go far in the Nordic region without seeing rye flatbreads. Their origins lie in Sweden and Finland where they have been baked in their current form for around 500 years. In Sweden, they have been made and baked on hot stones as early as the sixth century. Since the early nineteenth century, they have been baked in wood-fired ovens only adding to their unique flavour.
Why the hole in the middle? Before the invention of the iron stove, baking was something people out on the farms did perhaps twice a year, in autumn after the harvest and in spring when the winter stores had run out. The hole in the middle was simply there to aid the hanging and handling of the bread on long wooden poles.
I have always loved crispbread and I can remember staying with my grandparents as a child, my Mormor often ran out of muesli so she would crumble up a little knäckebröd over my yoghurt and add a handsome dollop of lingonberry jam, delicious.
These crispbreads are so quick and simple to make, I personally like serving them with smoked mackerel pate and Swedish pickled cucumber (Smörgåsgurka) or pickled fennel. Having said that they are just lovely with a mature hard cheese.
Swedish Crispbread (Knäckebröd)
- 300 g Dark Rye Flour
- 100 g Wholemeal Spelt Flour
- 190-220 g Water I find 200g water perfect if you're using a sourdough starter
- 60 g Rye Starter or 1/2tsp Fast Action Yeast
- 6 g Fine Sea Salt
- 1 Tbls Runny Honey
- 1 generous tsp caraway optional
- Combine the two flours, caraway if using and the salt. Add the sourdough starter, water or if you're using fast action yeast mix until you have a smooth dough. It should be firm, but if it seems too dry, add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, and work until smooth. (If you're using fast action yeast you will definitely need to add more water)
- Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest overnight (8 hours). The mixture will only expand slightly but should smell “yeasty” and slightly sour the next day. The next day, prepare to bake the crispbread. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Have a large baking tray ready in the oven.
- Divide the dough into 24, (approximately 25g each). Shape each piece into a ball and flatten one at a time into a disc and place on a well-floured work surface (use more rye flour) and roll out as thin as you can – around 1-2mm is an idea. Use a fork to prick all over the surface of each crispbread if you don't have a dimpled rolling pin. I like baking them with a hole in the middle but that is entirely optional. Continue until you've used all the dough.
- Remove the tray from the oven and place the crispbreads on the hot tray and bake in batches. Bake for around 8-10 minutes until the discs are nicely browned. Watch carefully as there is not much difference between done and burnt! Once you have baked all the crispbreads turn the oven off and leave until it has cooled right down. Place the crispbreads on a baking tray, it doesn't matter if they're piled on top of one another and return to a preheated oven (50°C) and bake for a further 20 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the crispbreads to cool in the oven. Store in an airtight container and they’ll keep for several weeks.
*They are also delicious baked with the addition of 50g of mixed seeds (sesame, flax & sunflower). Just combine them with the flour at the first stage, I tend to roll the dough out into a large rectangle and score lightly with a table knife, bake whole and break once cooled.