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How to bake traditional Swedish crispbread

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How to bake traditional Swedish crispbread
Traditional Swedish 'knäckebröd'. Photo: Leif R Jansson/SCANPIX
08:02 CET+01:00
The art of baking your own bread has been making a comeback in trendier hipster circles in Sweden. Here, food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe of traditional Swedish crispbread ('knäckebröd'). Sure, it's easy to buy in the shop - but like all bread it tastes so much better when you make it yourself.

Traditionally, Swedes wanted a bread that was easy to bake and would keep well - most therefore chose to bake crispbread. Nowadays it is easy to store in airtight containers, but originally they were made with a hole in the centre so that they could be hung over the oven to keep dry.

These delightfully wobbly crispbreads are irresistible and perfect for breaking and sharing. Serve them simply with good quality butter, cheese and fruit, or elegantly with salmon, cold meats, pâtés and dips.

Summary

Makes 6 large breads

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Ingredients

200 ml (1 cup) whipping cream

300 ml (1 1/4 cup) water

260 g (2 1/2 cups) dark wholemeal rye flour

320 g (2 1/2 cups) strong bread flour

1 tsp salt

14 g (4 1/2 tsp) instant dried yeast

Topping

1 tsp sea salt flakes

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp cumin or caraway seeds

Method

1. Heat the cream and water together until warm to the touch.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast and stir.

3. Add the cream and water mixture and mix together to form a dough.

4. Using the rye flour for dusting, turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 2-3 minutes.

5. Cut the dough into six equal pieces, then knead them into round balls.

6. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet, cover with a cloth and leave somewhere warm for 20-30 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 250C (475F, gas 9, fan 200C)

8. Using the rye flour for dusting, knock back a dough ball and then roll it out using an ordinary rolling pin to about 15cm (6in) diameter. Then transfer to a sheet of baking parchment and continue rolling out with an ordinary rolling pin until it is as thin as possible or at least 30cm (12in) diameter. Don't worry too much if the dough does not end up circular. You can trim roughly if you want, but the shape is not critical.

9. Sprinkle with the salt, sesame seeds and cumin seeds. Roll again to help the topping stick.

10. Make a pattern on the surface using a fork or a patterned rolling pin.

11. Bake for five minutes and then turn over and bake for about three minutes or until dry and hard. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

12. Repeat with the other dough balls.

13. When the oven has cooled to about 50C, pop the crispbreads back in to dry out. This will help to make them nice and crisp.

14. Store the crispbreads in an airtight container.

Tips

- Use any flour you want. If you want to go rustic, use stoneground, and if you want to go healthy, use fine rye, spelt or barley flour.

- Other toppings to try include linseed, sunflower seeds, rosemary or just salt.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, editor and founder of Swedish Food.

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