Knäckebröd (crispbread) is often served with a meal in Sweden, so every Swedish supermarket has a wide selection of different types of knäckebröd. Most are made using rye flour and spices, but the thickness varies a lot. Click here for a slightly thicker crispbread than the one below.
Although you can buy very good knäckebröd in stores both in and outside of Sweden it is worth making the effort to bake some yourself as they always taste a bit special when homemade.
This recipe produces really thin knäcke, much thinner than you can normally buy in shops, so they are almost like crisps (chips). They are good to serve with drinks as an appetizer, although they do have an annoying habit of disappearing very quickly. They are also good with cheese and some nice pickles, either at the end of a meal or for lunch.
Traditionally knäckebröd was made with a hole in the middle so that the breads could be stored on sticks under the roof. Although these days they are usually stored in tins or wrapped in paper, many people still like to cut a hole in the middle of the bread as a reminder of former times.
Swedes usually flavour tunt knäckebröd with lightly crushed anis (anise), brödkummin (caraway) or fänkål (fennel) seeds. Brödkummin or kummin is a false friend to English speakers as it means caraway, not cumin (cumin is spiskummin in Swedish). My personal favourite is anis as it has a more intense liquorice-like flavour. Whichever you use, lightly crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar to help release their aroma.
I like to decorate the knäckebröd with sea salt flakes and black and white sesame seeds. The sesame seeds add little in the way of flavour alongside the intense aroma of anise, so I really only use them for their appearance. You can buy black sesame seeds in good health food shops, Asian shops or online, but if you can’t get black seeds just use ordinary white sesame seeds on their own.
Makes 12 rounds
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 50 minutes
Total: 60 minutes (plus 15 minutes to prove)
– I have based this recipe on using a stand-mixer, such as a KitchenAid or a kMix, but it is also easy to make the dough by hand (knead for 4-5 minutes if making by hand).
– Although traditionally knäckebröd is made in rounds with a hole in the middle, any shape will do provided it is nice and thin.
– Take care not to use too much salt!
– If you have a pizza stone (baking stone), the knäckebröd will appreciate the quick burst of heat. Simply slide the knäckebröd onto a piece of baking parchment and transfer directly to the stone.
35 g oil, preferably rapeseed
140 g water
115 g rye flour, preferably stoneground
125 g strong (bread) flour, preferably stoneground
½ tsp salt (increase to 1 tsp if not using sea salt flakes)
2 tsp anise seeds, lightly crushed
7 g “fast action” dried yeast, 1 packet
1/2-3/4 tsp sea salt flakes, optional
2-3 tsp black and white sesame seeds, optional extra rye flour for dusting work surface
We recommend using digital scales to measure liquids.
1. Prehead the oven to 250C (480F, gas 9, fan 220C) and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
2. Put the oil and water in a saucepan and heat gently until lukewarm, 40C (105F). Stir to ensure that it is evenly warmed.
3. Put the flours, salt and anise seeds in the stand-mixer’s bowl and stir thoroughly with a spoon.
4. Add the dried yeast and mix thoroughly.
5. Fit the stand-mixer’s dough hook and with the motor running on minimum gradually add the warmed oil and water mixture.
6. Increase the speed to 2 (kMix) or 3 (KitchenAid) for 2-3 minutes until the dough begins to form a ball. You might need to add a teaspoon of water if the dough looks too dry, or a teaspoon or two of rye flour if it looks too wet. If necessary, knead the dough lightly by hand to form a ball.
7. Cover the dough and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
8. Divide the mixture into 12 evenly sized pieces and shape them into balls.
9. Sprinkle the work surface with rye flour and roll the dough out until it is about 8 cm (3 in diameter), turning and flipping frequently.
10. Transfer to a square of baking parchment and continue to roll it until it is about 18 cm (7 in).
11. Trim the dough into a circular shape, using a plate as template, and roll in some sea salt flakes and black and/or white sesame seeds if desired.
12. Prick all over with a fork (or roll with a kruskavel).
13. Cut a hole in the centre if desired and slide it onto a baking stone or baking tray.
14. Bake for about 4 minutes, until slightly golden round the edges, but keep an eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
15. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
16. Once the oven has cooled to 50C, put the crispbreads back in the oven and leave to dry and cool completely with the oven door open.
17. Transfer to an air-tight container until required. They should keep for several weeks.
Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.