My friend Andrew Janjigian, who is behind the #quarantinystarter project on instagram, texted me asking if I had ever used sourdough when making my knäckebröd (Swedish rye crispbread). Andrew was already testing it in his kitchen at home and it looked pretty good. Even though I never have chips on hand (I cook and cook with them several times a week), I decided to give it a try.
And I'm so glad I did, because the extra amount of starter gives the crusty bread a perfect, very nice acidity that works so well with caraway seeds. I like them with creamy goat cheese, honey and fresh thyme. Or why not try them with pickled herring, gravlax, or hot smoked fish and pickles.
The starter I used in this recipe was a thick paste like an all-purpose starter. You will need to adjust the recipe if your entry is different. If your starter is very sharp, it will likely be ready to go within 4 hours. If you want a slower rise, you can let it rise in the fridge overnight. If you don't have caraway on hand, I suggest using fennel, sesame, or rosemary seeds (fresh or dry).
Knäckebröd is probably one of the oldest breads in Sweden and today they are a staple in almost every Swedish pantry. Traditionally, in order to store these crispy breads, they were baked with a hole in the middle so that they could be strung on a horizontal wooden stick and hung from the ceiling to dry.
SOURDOUGH REJECT KNÄCKEBRÖD
(adapted from Smörgåsbord - The Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treats by Johanna Kindvall, Ten Speed Press)
(makes lots of crispy breads)
150 g (1¼ cup) rye flour (or whole wheat flour)
485 g (almost 2.5 cups) baking powder
about 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, if needed
(plus extra flour for rolling)
1 tablespoon of caraway, grilled and coarsely crushed
2 teaspoons of salt
about 1 tablespoon of flaky sea salt (optional)
MIXING THE DOUGH
In a large bowl, combine the rye flour, sourdough, caraway seeds and salt. Work the dough together until well blended. If necessary, add all-purpose flour. It's okay if the dough is slightly sticky, but it shouldn't be wet or too dry. Adjust with more flour or water if necessary. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest in a covered container. Let rise at room temperature in a draft-free place for at least 4 to 6 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The dough may not rise to double, but it should show some growth and feel softer when you put your finger in it.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 ° F (200 ° C). Lightly grease one or two baking sheets with oil.
TRAINING AND COOKING
On a generous, floured flat surface, roll out one piece of dough at a time until it is as thin as the caraway seeds (see shaping ideas below). If using, sprinkle fluffy sea salt on top and roll a few times to make the salt stick better. The crusty bread bakes well as is, but if you don't want the crusty bread to puff up while baking, I suggest poking the surface with a fork or rolling it once or twice with a knotty rolling pin.
Arrange as much as you can on a baking sheet and bake for 4 to 8 minutes, until the crackers are golden and crisp. If they're still soft, cook them a little longer, but keep an eye out for them as they burn easily. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the crackers cool on a flat surface. To make sure they stay crisp, don't stack crackers until they're completely cold.
Store crackers in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
You can roll these crispy buns with a rolling pin into small and large individual circles or roll them into large portions that can be cut into squares or bake to break up as you go. To keep it simple, you can also use a pasta machine.
ABOUT ANDREW JANJIGIAN
Andrew is Associate Editor at Cook's Illustrated Magazine, an avid baker and mycologist. He regularly gives bread and pizza classes at King Arthur and on top of everything he is an excellent photographer. In the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, Andrew began his #quarantinystarter project on instagram to learn more about baking and cooking with sourdough. In the past, Andrew and I have collaborated on some projects for example, here on kokblog, he's behind two popular recipes, Candied mushrooms and Chili Crisp. You can follow Andrew on instagram and Twitter.
How to make your own sourdough, illustrated diagram
Everyday sourdough (1), Art Print
Everyday sourdough (2), Art Print
Wild yeast starter, recipe illustrated step by step
Stack of knäckebröd, post on instagram
Wild fennel Knäckebröd in Case Vecchie, Sicily
Skållat rågbröd (Scalded rye bread), illustrated recipe
Rye sourdough bread, illustrated recipe
Plain sourdough bread, illustrated recipe
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