Yes, I looked that up, but I’m not sure if ‘the old bread’ (þe awld brēad) is actually old English, but it was certainly closer than ‘ye olde bread’. Either way – it’s a Swedish dish anyway and I had fun looking that up 😉
Also, I’m really busy at the moment with some things, so I only rarely get back to this, but I hope you enjoy it any time I get around to it.
So, I read on the English wikipedia that the old way of making
Knäckebröd – Knäckebrot in German and Swedish Crisp Bread in English was with crushed ice or snow. All modern versions I found would be with yeast. Now I have a hard time believing that yeast was widely available in the early days of Knäckebröd about 500 CE (common era). Leavening bread through fermentation was known to the Jews of the Old Testament already, but that was under slightly different climatic conditions to the rather cool north. I’ve personally tried to make sourdough from rye as well and it simply molds, when it grows in too cold a room (read: “back in the day house if not in the heated kitchen”, where it probably was too hot). It’s fine at warmer temperatures though. Also, it is stated on several pages that traditionally the recipe only contains wholemeal rye flour, salt and water (or maybe even saltwater, where available, who knows). So I would THINK, but have no proof that the earlier recipes would use just that – wholemeal rye flour, water and salt, with the twist that the bread would be at least partially made with water in a slightly different form: snow or powdered ice, limiting production to the less busy winter months I would assume.
Either way, this sounded like a challenge, so off I went, using my Kenwood Monster (aka Cooking Chef) to make some ice-slush. I didn’t expect it to be super-close to the factory-made ones, but who knows? It took me a couple of days to ramp up the amount of ice cubes – it’s winter and we don’t keep a stash, but that’s a minor issue I would guess. Here we go with the second trial (the first one was nommed too quickly and no pictures were taken).
Be aware – this is a trial just yet!
Recipe: Simple Knäckebröd – 2nd trial
This is amazingly quick!
Serves 6 (maybe?)
Preparation: 10 min
Baking: 20-30 min
Inactivity: 30 min
- Oven (best with a baking stone)
- Baking paper
- Chopping board, large (to transport dough)
- Food processor, which can crush ice (what I use)
- Rolling pin
- 200 g coarse wholemeal rye flour (dark rye flour)
- extra flour to dust surfaces (I use cheaper wheat flour)
- 500 g or more ice for crushing (or 250 g finely crushed ice)
- 50 g melted ice (water is OK – just wanted to be a smart arse)
- 1/2-1 tsp salt
- Heat the oven to as hot as possible, around 250 °C or more. I’d think 300 °C should be the highest, just in case someone has an oven which does that. Just beware, your dough will be ice-cold, so if you use a baking stone it’s your own responsibility if it cracks. I think it would make it a nice crunchy crust though.
- When the oven is hot, crush the ice finely in the food processor or ice-crusher. The more it resembles dust, the better, but beware of it melting, you basically want powdered snow-like stuff. If it’s winter and you have snow – try that! (Clean snow for sure)
- Put the flour and salt into a bowl and mix.
- Add the crushed ice and mix as good as possible, coating all the little ice cubes with the flour.
- Add the water and mix again.
- Place a large sheet of baking paper onto the workbench.
- Place the ‘dough’ on top and heavily flour a rolling-pin.
- Flour the dough and rolling-pin, roll out and keep re-flouring as often as necessary. That dough is sticky!
- When the dough is as thin as you think you can get it, maybe 3-5 mm, place the baking paper on your chopping board and transport it to the oven.
- Place your dough in the middle of the oven to bake.
- Bake for 15-30 min, depending on how quickly the snow melts.
- Take the crisp bread out of the oven and let cool completely.
Be aware, this is a trial recipe, if you try it out, let me know what you think and would could possibly be improved!