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
- 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.
- I put the water into my dough mixer, along with the fennel seeds, oil and salt.
- I also dissolved the yeast in the water, as opposed to mixing it in with the flour as you should do.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.