About Our Knäckebröd

by Benjamin Foster, Chef at K-bröd
April 11, 2020


Some background on the history of crispbread, crispbread nutrition and the Swedish diet, new Nordic approaches.


Swedish crispbread.
 Swedish crispbread.

 

Introduction

Crispbread (Swedish: knäckebröd) isn’t much made in the Swedish diaspora. I made meatballs and plättar with my mother as a child, but we only ate crispbread on Christmas and it was one of the factory-made brands.

I first became interested in crispbread when I started working out Swedish recipes in a commercial culinary context. I made gravlax, meatballs, cultured dairies, and lingonberry jam. I found a recipe for crispbread in one of Magnus Nilsson’s cookbooks. Nilsson was a major player in the original New Nordic trend that began almost a generation before me, and his recipe, which calls for strong wheat and coarse rye flour, yeast, aniseed, and milk, spoke to me in its simplicity, and the breads were perfect, the aniseed was tangy. They store well, are flavorful and can take a lot of protein. I started making a lot of crispbread.

 

History of crispbread

Crispbread was the primary preserved grain for most Swedish people at certain critical times in history. It was originally toasted on hot stones around 500 CE. Because crispbread, once cooked, can stay fresh for years under the right conditions, it became the backbone of the powerful Viking societies, allowing them to travel long distances and colonize faraway lands. It gained a renewed importance in Swedish culture during the industrialization period. One of Sweden’s first factories was a crispbread factory, and crispbread fed Sweden’s burgeoning populations that resulted from the rise of urban centers from the mid-19th century onward. 

 

Crispbread nutrition and Swedish diet

Crispbread continues to form a critical component of the average Swedish person’s diet. Most Swedish people eat it every day, often first thing in the morning with a slice of hard cheese.

Crispbread has numerous health benefits. It is rich in dietary fiber and resistant starch, it contains minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere, and it has photoprotective qualities, which refers to substances that help in molecular regeneration in biological organisms. 

 Swedish crispbread.

 Swedish crispbread.

Our crispbread

At K-bröd, we make our crispbread by hand and only use the best ingredients. Our crispbread is yeasty, tangy, and a perfect snack with cheese or lingonberry jam, or piled with cured, pickled, or fermented fish, cucumber, red onion, and dill.

As I explore my Swedish traditions, I am grateful for the strong culinary and cultural foundation my mother passed down to me, which she herself received from her grandmother, an interwar Swedish immigrant to America. I imagine that she and her husband ate many homemade crispbreads in the process of settling in America and that they enjoyed it during coffee breaks at their farm in Massachusetts.

While traditionally we eat factory-made crispbread ever since the industrialization period, I look to the ethos of the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto in reinventing the cookery I received from my family. In the text, the authors advocate for the establishment of “a New Nordic Kitchen” that reflects available ingredients and to make products that “express the purity, freshness, simplicity, and ethics we wish to associate with our region.” The crispbreads we make at K-bröd source the best ingredients available to produce flavorful, delicious breads specially designed to complement a variety of Nordic products.

I hope to fulfill the mission of the New Nordic Kitchen as well as the expectation of my tradition by making tasty, nutritious products with the best methods and ingredients available.

 

Welcome to K-bröd!