Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bread for January 26

Knackebrot, a crisp round cracker usually made of rye, seeds, and spices, is said by some to be the national food of Sweden. The sing-song flow of Swedish tends to sound hilarious to the American ear, and knackebrot does not disappoint: both "k's" are hard, as is the "n," resulting in the kind of sound you might make to imitate a train clacking along on the tracks.

As a boy, my most common after-school snack was some form of knackebrot, nearly always available in a giant wooden bowl on our dining room table. I ate it with cheese unless my mother was not around to police me, in which case I always chose peanut butter, and to this day I am not above enjoying such a bi-cultural delicacy.

My mother's favored flatbread tended heavily toward a more French influence, one made with white flour, commercial yeast, and plenty of butter. But my Swedish forebears favor a decidedly heartier cracker of rye and sourdough leavening. Some say there are as many varieties of knackebrot as there are kitchens in Sweden. I've seen it made with no flour or leavening at all, but only seeds and whole grains mashed into a paste with water. Personally, that seems a recipe more suited for birds, but my cousins in the old country would surely disagree.

Traditionally, knackebrot of any type is made in large flat rounds with a hole in the center. The crackers were suspended on a pole or rope for storage. They last a good long while -- in fact, in some very far northern communities there was only enough flow in the rivers to run the mill once a year, and a twelve-month supply of knackebrot would be made all at once. What a frenzy that must have been!

My own favorite formula consists of rye, a bit of whole wheat flour, a hint of caraway, and is leavened with starter considerably more ripe than what I use in my bread. If all goes well I will have some of these for sale on Thursday.

I'll also have Country French, the seeded sourdough with pumpkin, flax, and toasted sunflower seeds, a few loaves of the golden raisin and oat sourdough, and some sourdough rye sandwich loaves which, I am pleased to observe, tend to sell out quickly.

I'll also have the chocolate cookies many of you have been clamoring for. My friend S. reports great success using them to make ice-cream sandwiches, something I had never considered, although I have been known to savor them with a dollop of whipped cream, which is an extravagance we all owe ourselves from time to time in the dead of winter.

I still have some almond flour left that I need to use, so I'll have a few of the Moroccan semolina cookies as well. And, I noticed a block of good parmesan remaining in the fridge, too, so I will try to make more of the parmesan crackers.

Finally, there will be pasta, which I am making now.

See you on Thursday on Main Street, from 5:00 to 6:30.

--Erik Ryberg

1 comment:

  1. the seeded sourdough with pumpkin, flax, and toasted sunflower seeds, pasta and Knackebrot crackers. Thank you