Not long ago a friend posted a recipe online for Knekkebrød – Norwegian Crisp bread, a recipe link that stated that this bread was a staple of the Viking Age diet and was baked in what is now Sweden as far back as 500 CE. Now… I’m not a culinary researcher (I actually find historical culinary research really difficult) but I was heading to an SCA event, and really was keen on the idea of filling my lunch and supper bag with food that was at least KIND of authentic to my Viking Age persona.
From The Dockyards, the author writes that during the Viking Age and in medieval Scandinavia, the bread would have been baked over the fire directly or in a stone oven, and would have been eaten with butter, ham, honey, or cheese.
North Wilds Kitchen writes that this crisp bread (or ‘breaking bread’) probably originated in Scandinavia close to 500 years ago, and may have been a staple Viking Age food because it could store for long periods of time. The author writes that the distinction between knekkebrød and flatbrød is that flatbrød is baked on a flat griddle, while modern knekkebrød is cooked in an oven.
I somewhat followed the North Wilds Kitchen recipe, taking out the pumpkin seeds (I didn’t have any). Like the stone age nut bread I made earlier, there are some ingredients here that I would suspect aren’t authentic for Viking Age reenactment… but I think there could be a number of different substitutions that would be acceptable.
Taking the bread out of the oven… was kind of disappointing. It doesn’t look like it would be very tasty, and it was very hard – almost worse than a cracker…
In honesty – the taste wasn’t much better. It’s very dry (hence being able to store for a long time) and even with cheese or butter on top it was still drier than I found palatable. However, I could see it being good with a soup or stew to soak in and soften up.
I ended up taking a few pieces to my event, and snacking on them nibble by nibble… I still have lots left, packaged up in the fridge just in case. (Though I don’t think they need to be refrigerated.)
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