Crispbread in Scandinavia
Scandinavians eat a lot of crispbread, Swedes boasting the highest consumption, closely followed by Norway. Crispbread is Sweden's second largest export (just behind vodka), and on average, Swedes consume over 450 slices of crispbread per year! While crispbread might seem like just a cracker, Scandinavians see it as another form of bread and serve it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and as a snack in between meals.
Crispbread was traditionally made only twice a year and stored on a long pole hanging near the ceiling, hence the hole in the center of each piece. When you were ready for another crispbread, you could simply climb up, slide one off the pole and give it a little dust off. While this storage method is very charming, modern day Scandinavians are more likely to opt for an airtight container to keep their crispbread fresh AND dust-free.
What to Serve on Crispbread
Crispbread makes an excellent base for just about anything and everything. For breakfast, think butter and sliced hard-boiled egg, or maybe cream cheese and homemade pear compote. For lunch, how about a piece of crispbread piled high with creamy chickpea salad? And as an easy and delicious accompaniment to your Nordic supper, serve it buttered along side a cozy soup or stew. It's perfect for dipping.
While there are many obvious ways to use crispbread, there a few not so obvious but popular ways to eat this crunchy bread in Scandinavia:
- Crushed up and sprinkled on yogurt with fruit for breakfast;
- Covered with cheese and broiled to make crispy little toasts;
- And crispbread pizza! Top your crispbread with a few favorite ingredients and a sprinkling of cheese and pop it into the oven to heat. Ingenious!
You are probably familiar with several of the more popular brands of crispbread available in the grocery store (Finn Crisp, Wasa, Leksands). But Scandinavians are bakers at heart, and many people make their own cripsbread at home. This is an incredibly easy and enjoyable thing to do once you get the hang of it. And homemade crispbread lasts for a couple of weeks so you can make a good supply of it to have on hand for snacking and to accompany meals at any time of day.
Rye and Oat Crispbread
This easy recipe for Rye and Oat Crispbread is just the thing to get you started on your exploration into the world of Scandinavian crispbread. Simple, delicious and full of good things like dark rye flour and oats, this homemade crispbread is a serious step up from store bought crackers. Making crispbread is relatively straightforward, but there are a few tips and tricks I'd like to share with you to help your homemade crispbread be the very best that it can be.
- Roll your crispbread thin. PAPER thin. When you think it's thin enough, keep rolling. You will get a much more crisp final product when you take the time to roll it out as thin as you possibly can. You can also expect your crispbread to expand slightly when baked so it will not be quite as thin as when it went into the oven.
- Use a pizza cutter to even out the edges if necessary. Don't worry if your crispbread is more amoeba-shaped than round. Simply use a pizza cutter to even out the edges. Or leave your crispbread amoeba-shaped! That's rustic and charming, too. The more you make your own crispbread at home, the better you will become at rolling out the dough.
- Roll a kruskavel (a notched rolling pin) over the dough round a few times or poke it all over with a fork. This helps keep it flat and ensures maximum crispiness. If you enjoy Scandinavian baking and want to start making more of your own crispbread and flatbread, I highly recommend investing in a kruskavel of your own. It's an invaluable tool for the Nordic baker.
- Roll your dough directly on a piece of parchment paper. This eliminates the need to add any additional flour or transfer the dough round from the counter to a baking pan. It also makes it easier to roll the crispbread really, really thin. If you are not already doing so, it's worth checking out your local bakery supply store for a large box of baking parchment paper. It is so much more affordable that buying a small box of it at the grocery store.
- Cut a hole in the center of your crispbread using a round biscuit cutter. Not just because it's charming and traditional, but also because the center is the last part of the crispbread to crisp up. Creating that hole in the center creates extra edges and helps prevent the dreaded soggy crispbread. Go ahead and bake up the little rounds along side the larger piece of crispbread, just like you might make donut holes out of dough cut from the center of a donut.
- Brush the crispbread with butter and sprinkle on some sea salt flakes before baking. This helps with browning and adds incredible flavor.
- Bake until golden brown and crisp. DO NOT remove your crispbread from the oven too soon. This leads to soggy crispbread. You want to make sure your crispbread is crispy all the way through.
- Allow the crispbread to cool completely on a wire rack prior to storing. Moisture is the enemy of good crispbread. Make sure that it is thoroughly cooled before placing in an airtight container.
Ready to try this Rye and Oat Crispbread for yourself? Please do and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Honestly, there is something very meditative and satisfying about making crispbread at home. I hope you enjoy the process of baking it (and eating it) as much as I do.
Rye and Oat Crispbread
- 1 cup dark rye flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled, plus more melted butter for brushing
- Large sea salt crystals for sprinkling such as Maldon
- Whisk flours, oats, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Stir in milk and butter. Knead briefly in the bowl with your hands until the dough comes together (dough will be quite stiff and a bit sticky). Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide dough into 8 pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a thin round on a sheet of parchment paper using a traditional rolling pin.
- Roll with a kruskavel a few times or poke all over with a skewer or fork. Cut a 1 inch hole out of the center using a biscuit cutter. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sea salt crystals.
- Transfer parchment paper to a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.