“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

James Beard (1903-1985)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

BBD#24 - Knäckebröd

I've mentioned before how the Dutch have a huge breakfast culture: many types of breads, sweet toppings, savory meat products...you name it, it's all there. The breads range from soft, white, fluffy buns to hard, crispy flatbreads. These last ones are originally from Sweden, and they're called "knäckebröd", or crisp bread.

The flour used is mainly rye, which gives them a nice, nutty flavor. It's cheap, easy to keep as long as the environment is dry (it will go limp in humid weather) and apparently travels back all the way to the Viking era. Well, how about that!

Just yesterday, I bought some at one of our local stores. The cost of knäckebröd in the United States, as an import item, is prohibitive, but every now and then I treat myself to a couple of "wheels". It's very tasteful, spread with some good butter and a nice jam. But when I saw this month's BBD's challenge to bake bread with grains, I figured I'd give this Swedish bread a try. Might as well learn how to make my own instead of buying it in the store, right?!

I found a recipe from a trusted source, Görel from Grain Doe. She's one of the Bread Baking Babes and several years ago gave a fabulous recipe for it, as follows. As for the sourdough starter, I keep a jar on the counter at all times. It's easy to maintain as long as you remember to feed it regularly and it helps add extra flavor to the breads you may be baking

For the pre-ferment
500 ml/2,1 cups milk
25 g/0,9 oz fresh yeast
3 tbsp honey
180 g/6,4 oz rye flour
80 g/2,8 oz whole spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
50 ml/3,5 tbsp rye sourdough starter*
Optional: 1 tsp aniseed, ground

For the dough
2 tsp salt
300 g/10,6 oz rye flour
100 g/3,5 oz wheat flour

Heat milk until it's lukewarm. Dissolve yeast and honey in milk. Add flours and sourdough. Cover with cloth and let rise for 40 minutes.

Add salt, the wheat flour and 2/3 of the rye flour to the pre-ferment mixture. Add more rye as needed until the dough is "firmish", but not stiff. It should still be a little tacky. Mix well, but don't knead. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 16 pieces, form the pieces into round, tight spheres and leave on table under cloth.

Heat oven to 200 °C/390 °F. Roll out the dough balls to thin rounds. Prick the rounds with a fork and take out a hole in the centre with a small glass or a cookie cutter.

Bake two rounds at a time for appr. 15 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and crisp. If necessary (watch out!), cover with foil during the last 5 minutes. Let cool on racks. I prefer mine a little lighter, so I took them out when they were starting to golden and let them dry on the side.

I used spelt and rye, and chose to add the ground aniseed. It is not prominent but gives the bread just that little 'extra'. Try it!


  1. I love the heart shape, brilliant! I agree about the aniseed, it certainly adds an extra dimension.

    And thanks for reminding me about this recipe, this is something I really knead to do for Christmas!

  2. Nicole,

    Thanks for sending it BBD #34. I love this crispy bread from Sweden. During my stay in Stockholm, I got exposed to Swedish bread. I love all variety of crispy bread with piece of cheese on the top make it yumm.

  3. Thanks ladies!

    The heart-shape was accidental, I'm just not good at rolling perfectly round doughs (or I don't have the patience for it, more likely :-)

    Swathi, I'm so glad you know and like the bread. You are right, with good cheese on top makes this bread superyummie!!

  4. Nicole,

    Please take a look at bread baking day #34 event round up
    Thanks for your participation.

  5. Looks awesome. I wanted to make Knäckebröd since a long time. Thanks to you I'm motivated to do it, finally. ;-)

  6. Very interesting and healthy bread. Love the flour you've used, so far I never used sourdough starter and fresh yeast in bread making, must learn from you...