Knekkebrød (Norwegian Crisp Bread)

April 21, 2016
Norwegian Knekkebrød

Norwegian knekkebrødA Norwegian breakfast and lunch is never complete without a slice of bread or a type of knekkebrød. These ‘crisp breads’ or ‘breaking breads’ which are flat and dry, resembling a cracker, probably originated in Scandinavia close to 500 years ago. Some sources say that crisp bread was a staple of the Vikings as they could store them for long periods of time. These crisp breads would have been baked on hot stones, while today’s knekkebrød is baked in the oven. Baking them in the oven is what makes these crisp breads so different from the Norwegian flatbrød, which is baked on a flat griddle, much like lefse.

Once considered a poor man’s diet, knekkebrød has become widely popular boasting a healthy lifestyle with numerous variants from slightly sweet to nutty to herby & salty. They are easy to make, forgiving, and require only a few ingredients, which can be interchanged depending on what you have available in your cupboards. All one needs is a little imagination and water.

Norwegian knekkebrød

Norwegian knekkebrødMy Norwegian mother-in-law first showed me how to make homemade knekkebrød in her home in Bergen. We were living in London at the time, and she knew this was something I could easily make no matter where we were. I came across my hand-written recipe and notes which, despite a couple of smudges from previous batches and a few poorly translated words, had survived our years of travels. It was something we could make with little effort to connect us back to Norway.

The cracking sound it makes when you first bite into it, the intense flavor of seeds and nuts and the pride that comes from being able to say it came from your own oven make each batch truly special. This is the recipe she gave me all those years ago, only slightly adapted.

Norwegian knekkebrød

Norwegian knekkebrødThese are perfectly paired with a slice of cheese or a spread of jam or topped with fresh cucumber. Great for a snack while out on the trail or whenever hunger calls.

Knekkebrød

(makes 2 sheet pans, approximately 40 breads)

Ingredients:

  • 3 dl /135 g (1 cup) course rye flour
  • 3 dl /135 g (1 1/2 cups) quick cooking oats
  • 1 dl /25g  (1/2 cup) wheat bran
  • 2 dl /80g  (1/2 cup) sesame seeds
  • 1 dl /60g  (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 1 dl / 60g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 1 dl /45g  (1/4 cup) linseed/flax seeds
  • 1 Tb honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 dl (2.4 cups) water

Preheat the oven to 350° F / 175° C. Cover two sheet pans completely with parchment paper.

Chop the pumpkin seeds roughly.

In a large measuring cup, mix the honey with a little bit of warm water until diluted. Add more water until the mixture is 6 dl or 2.4 cups in total.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, oats, wheat bran, seeds and a pinch of salt. Slowly add in the honey water until a wet paste forms. You may need to wait a minute or two until the flours and oats soak up more of the water and you get the right consistency.

Pour half of the mixture over one of the sheet pans and spread evenly and thinly, to the very edges. You can use the back of a spatula, or take plastic wrap over the top of the mixture, pressing down and spreading to get an even thickness across the sheet pan. Do the same for the rest of the mixture and the other sheet pan.

Place both sheet pans in the oven. After 10 minutes, take them out and cut gently into rectangles with a pizza cutter or knife. This will make it easier to separate them when they are fully baked.

Place the sheets pans back in oven and bake for another 55-60 minutes, alternating the top pan with the bottom one once through the cooking time. Occasionally open the oven door to release steam. Check the knekkebrød towards the end of the cooking time and look for them being dry and brittle with light browning on the edges.

When finished, break the breads apart gently and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Store in a tight plastic or tin container and they should last for several weeks.


Norwegian knekkebrød

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply Alexa McAllister October 26, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Oh, they look so delicious. This surely is a recipe for me to try. Thank you 🙂

    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney, Australia

    • Reply nevada October 27, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Alexa. These are really tasty and super healthy. The best part is you can mix and match with whatever seeds/nuts you have in the cupboard and top them with whatever you fancy. Hope you enjoy them 🙂

  • Reply Yun July 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    hi Nevada, thank you very much for sharing, i’m working on it! haha

    • Reply nevada July 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply Lisa Dokken July 13, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I just came back from Norway so was excited to make this recipe. It is delicious, but it stuck to the wax paper. Any thoughts?

    • Reply nevada July 22, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Lisa. Thanks for your comment. Make sure you are using parchment/baking paper rather than wax paper. If you still find the paper sticking, you can try greasing it beforehand with a little butter. I haven’t had trouble getting my knekkebrød off, but I have had to pull at the paper a little bit sometimes. I hope this works for you!

  • Reply Skeena July 25, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ve tried a number of Knekkebrød recipes, but this is the only one that turned out “just right” (meaning good crunch, texture, thickness and taste). No need to search further, for I now have the recipe I’ve been looking for.

    The amount of water made for a very spreadable mixture (more like wet oatmeal) and letting it sit for a few minutes was a really helpful suggestion. For other American bakers who may have the same dilemma, when choosing a sheet pan, if you have an option go for a jelly roll pan rather than a half sheet pan, do so. The width of my parchment paper made for no piecing together and spreading to the edges gave a thickness that matched to the pictures. On baking, after 10 minutes I couldn’t quite believe they would take almost another hour, but they did (albeit I did drop the temperature slightly from the 350 for the second half).

    • Reply nevada July 29, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Skeena, I’m so happy to hear this recipe worked great for you! And thanks for the suggestions as well, really helpful 🙂

  • Reply Gina Salvati September 25, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Great recipe, but an hour baking time? Way too long. First batch is unedible.

    • Reply nevada October 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Gina. I often find I have to cook them a little longer than an hour. Did you use the convection setting? I would try dropping the temperature to 325°F / 160°C next time and see if that works better for you.

  • Reply Judy Cusick October 6, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Do you know where I can buy knekkebrod (online or in the Washington DC area)?

    • Reply nevada October 12, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      I would try a speciality Scandinavian shop in the area. Otherwise, they are really easy to make at home 🙂

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