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Ryvita, eat your heart out. I bake my own knäckebröd now thank you very much.
Crispbread is of Scandinavian origin, usually labelled in the native tongue with words full of ös or äs. I’m sure it gained popularity in the ancient, Viking times when the sailors had to take provisions on their long boat journeys and plain bread would spoil in no time at all. All the other sailors of the world probably caught fish and ate it instead of laboriously rolling out rye dough and baking it twice.
Crispbread is apposite in healthy living, calorie regime and weight loss, right? Wrong, at least in my case. I am a complete junkie for Ryvita with butter. I start off planning to have a couple (that’s TWO, yes?) of slices for lunch with just a lick of butter and end up returning to the packaging until it’s almost empty – or the butter runs out. So me making my own crispbread really equals to Pinkman cooking meth. But hey, I had to try, didn’t I? After all it could have been a total failure and result in me drying out.
Contrary to what you might think, crispbread is not ordinary bread pressed, dried or double baked. The last it actually is but you make it from scratch. No good trying to put sliced white into a panini press or/and bake it into oblivion hoping to achieve a packet of approximate Ryvita that way.
I used to think it was not feasible to make at home, like crackers, or matzo. Obviously I was wrong – if the Vikings could, I can too. The dough is very simple: rye flour and water with a tiny bit of yeast to facilitate fermentation and enrich flavour (by all means try sourdough); plus seeds, herbs and what-nots. The trick is to roll the dough out really thin but not so see-through that it would crumble coming out of the oven.
It turns out really very good. The overnight fermentation enhances the flavour: you needn’t do it and give the dough just an hour’s worth of proving, but I’d recommend the overnight proof. Add whatever you fancy to the dough: seeds, sesame, herbs, more salt, more honey or little bits of crispy bacon. And it keeps well in an airtight container, only softening ever so slightly after a few days.
rye crispbreadServings: makes 24 slicesTime: a couple hours plus overnight proving
- 400g dark rye flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 10g fresh yeast
- 350ml warm water
- 1 tbsp. honey
1. In a large bowl stir the salt into the flour. Stir the yeast and honey into the water and pour into the flour. Stir it into dense, sticky dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours. Don't expect it to rise; at most it will puff up slightly.
2. Dust a work surface with rye flour. Divide the dough into four and work with one piece at a time. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6 with a baking sheet set on a middle rack.
3. Roll the dough out to a rough rectangle, as thinly as you can without the dough tearing; 1-2mm. Using a knife or a pastry cutter trim the edges, then cut into squares but leave them in place. Prick dimples in the dough with a chopstick.
4. Transfer the bread into the oven using another baking sheet or a pizza peel, onto the preheated tray. Bake for 6 minutes until barely coloured. Slide the breads onto a sheet of parchment and proceed with the next batches.
5. When all the dough is baked, cool the oven down to 100C/225F/gas ¼. Return the crispbreads onto the baking sheet, all at once; they can be piled up. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the bread in until cold.