These leavened flatbreads are baked in an oven unlike the uniquely Norwegian Crisp Flatbread, which is not. They are common all over the Nordic region and in many other parts of the world to which they are being exported.
Today very few people bake these kinds of breads themselves but rather buy them readymade. A meal with pickled herring that doesn’t include darkly toasted rye sourdough crispbread, good salty butter and mature cheese is for many, including myself, unthinkable.
- 500 ml milk
- 50 g yeast
- 330 g coarse rye flour, plus extra for sprinkling
- 400 g strong wheat flour, plus extra to dust
- 2 tsp aniseed, crushed
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the yeast and stir until dissolved.
Add the remaining ingredients and knead at medium speed until it doesn’t stick much to the edges of the bowl any more. It will take at least 10 minutes but can take longer. Leave the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Tip the dough out onto a floured work counter and divide into 15–20 equal-sized pieces, shape them with a floured hand into round buns and leave them to rise for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 225ºC.
Line a baking sheet with baking (parchment) paper and place in the oven to heat up.
Sprinkle a good handful of rye flour onto a work counter and place a bun onto it. Roll the bun out into a round of at least 20 cm in diameter and finish by rolling over it with a knobbed rolling pin. Continue with the remaining buns.
Place each round on the preheated baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. They don’t have to stay in the oven until they are crisp as they will dry afterwards. Let them cool on wire racks until completely crisp before eating them.
• It is a bit awkward to bake these in an ordinary domestic oven but it works ok. If you have access to a wood-fired bread oven or a pizza oven, that works the best.
• A tip: I like toasted crispbread, which means that you put them in the oven for a second baking and drying after they have all been baked the first time. To do this, reduce the oven temperature to 100ºC, stack all of the crispbreads in a pile and place them in the oven on a wire rack overnight. They will darken considerably and dry completely.
Recipe from The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson, with photography by Erik Olsson (Phaidon, $59.99, hbk).
View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.