Recently the good folk at the Folk, Viking and Pagan Metal Facebook Page posted an article on cooking authentic Knekkebrød, or crisp bread, made by the Vikings. I liked the sound of this crisp break, and I love trying authentic food from my heritage. (Hence I am a huge fan of traditional German food.)
I pulled the recipe from RecipeReminiscing as the instructions on the link on Facebook were a bit confusing. The ingredients for the crisp bread are as follows:
0.5 jug lukewarm water
6 cups rye flour
6 cups wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 cups rye flour for rolling out the dough
1 jug = approximately 2 pt. / 1 litre
1 cup = approximately 0,3 pt. / 1,5 d
To me that seemed like a lot of bread, and while we like bread in my household we don’t eat quite that much of it, so I halved the recipe. Also, I found that 1 liter of water is about 4.25 cups.
Now I made a mistake, and I will go into that later, but instead of halving half a jug (1/4 liter of water, or just over a cup of water) I put in a full liter (4.25 cups) of water in the recipe, so my ingredients will reflect that mistake, and I will talk about this and my recommendations later in this post.
The recipe I made was as follows:
4.25 cups/1 liter lukewarm water
3 cups rye flour
3 cups wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1.5 (approximately) cups rye flour for rolling out the dough
From the RecipeReminiscing site:
“Mix all the ingredients and knead well. Divide the dough in 20 pieces and form into balls. Roll out each ball in plenty of rye flour until thin and round. Cut out a hole in the middle of each crisp bread and prick them with a fork. Or if you prefer, cut the dough into strips instead of rounds.
The fireplace must be warmed up well ahead. Before placing the crisp breads on the bottom of the fireplace, sweep it to remove ashes. Turn the crisp breads when slightly browned.”
While I didn’t use unbleached flour (and would be interested in how that affects the recipe), I got organic rye flour from Natural Grocers from near where I live in Nebraska. I don’t have a fireplace in this house, so I set my oven to “Bake” on 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mixing was quick and easy. You just throw everything together and mix it the olde fashioned Viking way. (With a Kitchenaid.)
Then I covered my countertop with the rye flour and set the mixed dough to the side. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out the dough, and I used cooking stones. Once the glob of dough was covered and rolled in flour it was much easier to manipulate without it getting stuck to my hands.
My daughter, Nikita, helped me with the first round of Knekkebrød.
You see a rolling pin in the pictures. Don’t use it. It caused more hassle in this process than it helped.
In the smaller round stone I put flour down to help the crisp bread not stick. This was a mistake. For one, the flour used to roll the dough and then flatten it was enough. The excess flour in the stone made for a mess and a thick coating on the bread.
Once I had the pieces flattened in the stones I put them in the oven. The first batch I put in for twenty (20) minutes, partially because the stones would take time to heat up.
In this batch I tried to keep the bread round on the rectangular stone…and then realized that was unnecessary.
Once the 20 minutes was up I flipped the bread and cooked for another fifteen (15) minutes.
And hail! My first batch of Knekkebrød. It turned out really good! Now, like I said I added too much water (a full liter for half a batch) and so I could tell the bread, especially the thicker piece in the round stone, were a little softer than is described. It’s still good, though.
The bread was amazing with the raw local honey from It’s All About Bees in Ralston, Nebraska. The picture to the right is of the first pieces…minus one the one in the left picture because I ate it. The rye and cumin give the bread a very earthy flavor.
Knowing I made the pieces a bit too thick, the second and last batch I made sure the pieces were thinner. This time, with the stones already hot, I put the bread in for 15 minutes per side.
Even with the added water, the thinner bread came out very hard and crisp.
First and foremost, make the pieces as thin as possible. Using less dough and cooking a third batch would have prevented the somewhat softer bread that came out.
Second, make sure to read the amount of water and properly scale it. While the thinner pieces in the second batch are hard and crisp, with 1-1/8 cup of water or so all of the bread would have been crisper, which is my understanding what the bread should be. Maybe more like a cracker than bread?
Finally, get more dirty. Had my son helped we would have had a wild good time with the flour!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little post of my cooking experiment. I really enjoyed making the knekkebrød, and my whole family is loving it and want to make more in the future.
Have you made knekkebrød before? What are your thoughts?
Until next time!. . .
I have always loved the poetry of Yates, Henley, and others. Lately I’ve been taking notes (mostly in my head) of the poems I read and what I want to express.
It’s funny, actually watching the movie “Moana” with my children (as well as reading the Viking sagas) has nurtured this flame of desire to write poetry.
“Hearth and Home” is about my dedication to protecting my family. So simple, yet in this day in age seems so foreign, even counter-cultural based on what I’ve been seeing in the media.
HEARTH AND HOME