28 October 2007


Finally after much consideration and sidetracking, I made some research on the topic of knäckebröd and baked some today. This is definitely a part of the Swedish staple diet, one interesting article (in Swedish) talks about the knäckebröd belt that goes through middle Sweden and that it has been a life saver for many during the late harsh Swedish Winters, when other food has run out.
There is also a plethora of recipes on the internet and out of the three I chose to look into, limitations on ingredients combined with the lateness of the Sunday afternoon and it's relation to the opening hours of suitable types of shops, I decided to experiment from the start and combine elements of the three recipes.

Here is the special knobbly pin that's so useful for these. I got it for Christmas last year from my sister Bip.


4 dl lukewarm water
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
3 sachets (7 g each) quick yeast
2 tsp coarsely ground fennel seeds
8 dl rye flour
2.5 dl strong white flour

  1. I had whole fennel seeds, so I roasted them for a couple of minutes in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they released their aroma, then quickly poured them over to my pestle and mortar and crushed them as finely as I could.
  2. I put the water into my dough mixer, along with the fennel seeds, oil and salt.
  3. I also dissolved the yeast in the water, as opposed to mixing it in with the flour as you should do.
  4. Then I started the mixer and added the rye flour and finally the strong flour to form a stiff and non-sticky dough. Stiff in that the machine had trouble kneading it and I had to do the last bit manually to incorporate the last of the flour.
  5. As it has yeast, it needs to rise for about an hour, preferably longer. Cover the mixing bowl with a towel so the dough doesn't dry out. One recipe recommended leaving the dough in the fridge overnight for a really slow rise.
  6. The amount should give 18 - 20 cakes the size of a small plate. Roll out very thin, about 2 - 3 mm with a regular pin, then either prick the cakes with a fork or better, roll with a special knobbly rolling pin. And be generous with the flour too, it gives a more rustic look and tastes nice too.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees C (gas mark 9). Transfer the cakes to baking tins lined with baking parchment and bake for 7 - 8 minutes on one side only.
  8. Leave to cool on a metal grid so they can dry out and go crispy. They are very nice with butter when still slightly warm too, though.
Because the bread is so dry, it stores well for a very long time. It's also very versatile - it's great with cheese, paté of all kinds, not to mention with fish. But also good with just butter or with jam. We went to our local farm shop yesterday and bought a number of interesting chutneys and relishes, so I rather suspect it will be nice to dip with.

While I waited for the dough to rise, I found some inspiration from this blog. I'll definitely try out the recipes there, for now I just used my new Halloween cookie cutters.

I made some mistakes though. The very first lot was not baked completely, as I didn't pre-heat the oven long enough. Then as I was rolling, I kept rolling thinner and thinner and some did get burnt. As for the fennel seeds, I bought mine at least 2 years ago for a particular dish and have kept them in an air-tight jar since. So they had definitely lost some of their flavour, but there was enough left in them, to just give a very mild hint in the bread every now and then. Unless you are a big fan of fennel, I'd suggest a reduction in the amount if the seeds are fresh.

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