It was in the film A Fish Called Wanda that I seem to recall Archie Leach (John Cleese) wooing the gorgeous Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) by reciting nonsense in a Russian dialect.
Well, to me the Scandinavian or Nordic languages have an allure of their own – I mean, who could resist the temptation of being offered some knekkebrød (Norwegian), fröknäcke (Swedish), nakkileipä (Finnish), knäckebrot (German) or knäckebröd (Dutch)? Oh yes please, I have some of what she’s having – methinks approximates a line from another movie of yore?
When my friend returned from a trip to Finland she brought back with her a new addiction for the seeded biscuits, nakkileipä or hapankorppu and promptly proceeded to perfect the recipe at home to feed her cravings. More recently another friend offered me her own homemade seeded biscuits AND shared her recipe with me – wow, instant addition for moi!
And so now I have had some playtime in the kitchen to trial the recipe shared with me by Lydia I want to entice you to also try these delicious, indeed ‘healthy’ crackers. As Lydia and I discussed there are many variations of these biscuits available in stores, but they are usually fairly expensive – the cost of convenience I guess.
I have also been looking at all sorts of variations of seeded biscuit recipes online. As you know I love to tease out a little bit of culinary history, and I discovered that crisp breads or breaking breads probably originated in Scandinavia close to 500 years ago. I read that it is possible the crispbreads were a staple for Vikings, as they have, as we would say in our time, a long shelf life. It is likely the breads – very thin and flat – would have been baked on hot stones. I find it fascinating how one culture’s cuisine always seems to have a link or similar cooking technique to many others – all borne of necessity no doubt.
These many and varied crispbread recipes you too can find online, and all are so easy to make – you can certainly vary the ingredients or as I say play with the original list of ingredients once you have the basics down pat. I read with interest that the Dutch-German breads would have been made round, with a hole in the middle, so they were strung together on long sticks hanging from the ceiling. I think you find keeping them in an airtight container more practical – but mind you, they probably won’t last too long if your family is as keen on them as we are!
The variables are only limited by your imagination. I am yet to try making them with rye flour, as I think that would add a lovely flavour, but you can incorporate chia seeds, sunflower seeds, psyllium husks, oats or wheat bran. Lydia’s recipe uses cornflour, but I have made them with chick pea flour (just a tiny bit less crispy) and am keen to try rice flour. I have made them with a sprinkle of smokey paprika and just a tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper on top, and on another I have sprinkled wasabi powder. Very finely chopped rosemary, or fennel seeds could be other surprise flavours to experiment with.
I guess the only tricky part is getting the mixture really thin on the baking trays. The recipe included here is quite wet and sticky. In addition to spreading the mix between either silicone baking mats, or baking paper, I found that by oiling the top sheet of paper/mat by brushing it with some nut or olive oil, it was easier to remove the paper/mat from the mixture. Peel it back from one edge, much like you are separating the backing sheet off contact book covering.
I am sure you too will soon be allured and addicted to these crispbreads – delicious as a snack, with cheeses, or even crumbled over soups, salads as a nutty garnish!
Now: speak to me in your best faux-Scandinavian, puh-lease?