I have a weakness for crispbread. Not the airy pale stuff, or the brown tedium that is Ryvita, but traditionally hard Swedish rye crispbread. I like it dimpled and, ideally, in large rounds that I can break into irregular shapes. There are few places in Britain that sells it (Nordic Affär, IKEA, a couple of online places, and my favourite, Peter’s Yard, all do). Before Christmas, as part of the seasonal fixing and cooking, I decided to make my own crispbread. It went a lot better than I had expected and I’ve made it a couple of times since. Here’s the recipe.
The base recipe comes from my trusty copy of Vår Matbok, the cookbook I took from home. It’s simple and adaptable. My first adaptation was to use a dark rye flour (a white one works fine: I like a darker bread), to add a little treacle and to let the dough prove for longer to get a stronger flavour. Once, when I ran out of rye, I made up the difference with buckweat flour. Like rye, it has more flavour than wheat and is gluten free. It tasted great.
I love this plain, straight up,but decided to turn it into shards good for dipping or snacking. I wanted to add a little something to the breads. I rolled it out thinly, sprinkled a filling on half the dough, doubled it up and rolled it out thinly again before cutting into long triangles with a pizza cutter. I learned that pumpkin seed is a great filling, as is rosemary and salt. Cheese, however, should be added to the top of the bread towards the end of cooking or it burns. I imagine this would be great with a za’atar filling too. Be creative!
There is only one problem: I don’t have a kruskavel. Remember that I said crispbread should be dimpled? Pricking it with a fork is fine but not optimal. A kruskavel, a sharply nobbled rolling pin, makes the perfect surface. It’s on the list of things I need to get the next time I’m in Sweden. Meanwhile, I bought a muddler in Tiger that has the right surface. I look forward to stabbing my next batch of crispbread dough with it. Fingers crossed it’ll provide that last bit of authenticity.
- 300 mls rye flour (about 150 grams)
- 300 mls plain flour (about 180 grams)
- 13 grams instant yeast
- Pinch of salt
- 40 grams treacle
- 50 mls olive or vegetable oil
- 200 mls water
- 2 tbsp bread spices: use a mixture of fennel seed, caraway seed, cumin seed (optional)
- Weigh out the flours into a bowl.
- Mix in the salt and yeast.
- In a measuring jug, mix treakle, warm water, oil and spices until the treacle has dissolved. (Adding the spices to the liquids instead of the dry ingredients allows the flavours to develop more).
- Add the liquid to the flour and mix into a dough.
- Knead for a few minutes. The dough should be elastic and firm, not too loose.
- Let prove for an hour or more.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250C (230C fan).
- Divide the dough into four pieces.
- On a worksurface liberally dusted with dough, roll one quarter of the dough out thinly (a couple of millimeters).
- If using a filling, sprinkle onto half of the dough.
- Fold the unfilled section over the filled one.
- Roll out thinly again.
- Prick all over with a fork, pastry pricker or, if you have one, roll out with a kruskavel.
- Cut into shapes: use a pizza cutter to create shards or squares, or cookie cutters for more formal shapes.
- Place on a non-stick oven sheet and cook for 3-6 minutes (longer for larger and thicker pieces, shorter for thinner and smaller).
- It's fine for the crispbreads to go dark in parts, but they should not burn.
- Take them out and let cool on a wire rack.
- If they are not completely dried out, put them back in the oven on a very low heat (below 100C since they should dry, not continue cooking. I use 60C.) and leave until dry. Depending on how thick they are, this can take an hour or two.