swedish knackebrod.

I’ve had a thing for crackers ever since I made those Blue Cheese & Walnut Crackers, along with my love letter to Ina Garten. There were those, and then, these flat breadsticks. Then this (these?) knäckebröd, which I made because I love those Wasa rye crisps from the grocery store, but mostly because I love the word “knäckebröd.”

(Which means “break bread,” for those sans Swedes in their families.)

knackebrod avalanche.

It’s really a crime to even compare these to the rye crisps you get from the store. First of all, they’re not made with any rye flour. Secondly, they’re thinner than rye crisps and, thirdly, some of these are covered in seeds, which I’ve also heard is entirely non-traditional. But I hope you’ll forgive me, as they still serve the same purpose — to carry slices of meat and cheese into my mouth.

cheese + mustard = yum.

I was pleasantly surprised, upon eating one (then two, then three, then four… then I lost count) of these crackers, to find a hint of a buttery, “enriched” dough taste. Enriched doughs, like brioche and challah, always have that distinct rich flavor from the eggs and milk, and these wafers, though egg-less, still offer that delicious taste. Combined with the nutty, savory crunch of sunflower, sesame and flax seeds*, I don’t care what they should be called — they’re just worth making.

Swedish Knäckebröd
Courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks)

Yields: About two dozen crackers

8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Artisan bread topping (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine melted butter and milk. In a separate small bowl, whisk yeast into warm water and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, then add it to the milk mixture.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together salt, baking soda and flours. Add them to the milk mixture, stirring to combine. Knead the dough with the dough attachment or by hand for about 5 minutes, then let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease the outside bottom of two half-sheet baking pans (preferably 13 x 18-inch). Divide dough into two pieces and roll out onto the outside bottoms of the pans, going all the way to the edges and trying to make the dough an even thickness all over the pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds or a mixture of seeds, if desired, onto the dough and go over once with a rolling pin to secure them. Prick the dough all over with a fork and, using a pizza cutter, cut it into 4 x 2-inch pieces. Don’t worry about spreading the pieces apart; they’ll shrink while baking. Repeat with remaining piece of dough.
Bake for 25 minutes or until flatbread is a deep, golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Break connected pieces apart, if necessary. The crackers should be crisp, not soggy or pliable. If they are, let them sit out overnight to crisp them up.

*Note: I made two versions of knäckebröd, one with seeds and one without, to appease those in favor of keeping with tradition. Though I have a bit of a preference towards the former, the latter were equally yummy (and possibly better for holding toppings, as the seeds overpowered other ingredients a bit in terms of flavor).