This month Jen over at Blue Kitchen Bakes is hosting this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge which is organised by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy.
Rather than a general theme this time Jen has decided that this month's challenge would be the recipe for Knackerbröd. I had a look at the recipe on the Jen's blog and thought, “How hard can that be?” Ho, ho, ho. If you look up Knackerbröd you'll find several variations on the spelling such as knackerbrod, knäckebröd and knackebrod. While most sites agree on it being Swedish in origin a few make a claim for it to be Finnish. If this is all a mystery to you it's best described as you can buy it in Britain under it's brand name of Ryvita.”Oh yes, now I know what you mean,” you all chorus. However I didn't look all this up before I went out and bought the ingredients. Firstly there is the rye flour. Not all supermarkets stock this but Sainsbury's do sell Doves Farm wholemeal rye flour (is there any other type of rye flour?). This wasn't a problem as it's my local supermarket. The wheat bran however was a bit harder to track down. Not being someone who lets things go when it comes to tracking down ingredients (my Brother called me the 'Retail Hound') I did find a bag of it in Morrisons. It was by the dried fruits and nuts if you want to buy some yourself. If you are wondering what it looks like it is basically the crushed crumbs you find at the bottom of the cereal packet.
Once I had gathered my ingredients together I started to look at recipes for Knackerbröd and found that while rye flour is the traditional flour used in Knackerbröd I couldn't find any other recipes that contained wheat bran. Since I didn't have a clue about this type of flat bread I felt I couldn't start to make up my own recipe. Therefore I decided to follow the recipe for Knackerbröd that Jen posted on Blue Kitchen Bakes.
While I was having a look through some recipes I found someone else had tried the same recipe a couple of years ago on A Bread A Day. Let's just say it didn't go too well and if I'd read that first I probably wouldn't have tried it in the first place. Hey, ho though and off we go...
It starts off like a standard bread recipe – weigh out the flour, salt, yeast (I use Allinson Easy Bake Yeast, which is cheaper than the individual sachets) and a little bit of butter. Add some lukewarm water and mix this together into a dough. I did this in my food processor as it has a dough blade. Unlike most bread doughs it didn't come together as easily and I was a bit tempted to add some more water. In the end I didn't but I did have to keep scraping the sides and trying to get it to come together. After this I added the wheat bran and gave it a blitz in the food processor. Once you've combined all the ingredients you have to knead it for 5 minutes. I have to say the first few minutes were more akin to trying a make a sandcastle when the sand isn't quite wet enough. Finally I was able to get it all in one ball but this isn't a dough you can start stretching out. It's definitely more like wholemeal pastry dough. This obviously makes it seem a bit odd to be kneading it as the golden rule of pastry dough is that you shouldn't handle it too much. The instructions require you to knead until elastic but I can't say after many minutes of kneading it ever got to this state. After this it gets cut into 8 equal pieces to be rolled out. Due to the nature of the dough it doesn't really allow to be rolled out to a perfect circle but naturally forms a ragged edge formation.
Traditionally the centre of the Knackerbröd is cut out with a small, round pastry cutter, which I believe was so the breads could be hung afterwards to help make them crisper and thus preserving them for a little longer.
Onto the cooking. This part is a bit of a faff. Obviously eight pieces of flat bread plus eight small rounds need eight baking trays. I have a double oven with the main oven being fan-assisted and the top, smaller oven a conventional single tier oven. I usually do my baking in the top oven and so used this oven first of all. The recipe puts the temperature at 230°C but my top oven only goes to 220°C so I put it to that and thought I could always bake it for a little longer if needed. Well, after 15 minutes I it really didn't need any more baking because it was a bit burnt.
The next two I tried in the fan-assisted oven and put the temperature down 20°C to 210°C to compensate. Success! In fact I was rather chuffed.
Buoyed by the fact that I had some Knackerbröd that actually looked like they were meant to be I put the next batch in the fan-assisted oven for the same time. Disaster! I guess the oven was fully heated by now and all I was left with black rye bread or just something that even the birds won't eat.
I turned off the main oven and went back to the top oven for Knackerbröd number 6 and baked it for a few minutes less. Once that one was done I turned the main oven back on and baked the final two plus the eight rounds. Thankfully they all seemed to turn out fine.
The burning question (see what I've done there?!) is would I make this again. The answer is yes and no – I wouldn't do the whole quantity again as the constant juggling of trays, ovens and uncertainty about temperatures and timings was just a bit too much to bear. I would though half or quarter the ingredients and perhaps make some of rounds on their own, particularly if I had some nice cheese to go with them.