Just released from Phaidon, the leading international chef Magnus Nilsson of world renowned Fäviken Magasinet restaurant, ranked #19 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, gives you his definitive guide to Nordic home cooking. Available from Skandium.
In Norway, a salt pork or bacon pancake can be made in various ways. It can be pan fried, as here, or it can be a thick oven-baked pancake, like the Swedish fläskpannkaka.
This version is often served with finely snipped chives, and sometimes a bit of rømme, or even grated cheese. I have also seen a recipe or two that suggest fried apple wedges as an accompaniment. The Swedish version of this dish is usually served with Sugared Lingonberrie.
Preparation and cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes: 4–6 pancakes
– 100 g/3½ oz (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) weak (soft) wheat flour
– 5 eggs
– good pinch of salt
– 550 ml/20 fl oz (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) milk
– butter, for frying
– 300 g/11 oz salt pork or bacon, sliced or cut into sticks
Combine the flour, eggs, salt and half the milk in a mixing bowl and whisk until no lumps remain. Add the rest of the milk, whisking continuously. Heat a little butter in a frying pan or skillet and add a generous amount of the pork or bacon batons. Fry until they start to brown a little, then ladle in some batter. You are aiming to get 4–6 pancakes in total, so divide the pork and batter accordingly. Fry the pancake until the underside is golden, then turn and fry on the other side.
Keep warm while you fry the remaining pancakes and serve with your choice of accompaniments.
Knekkbreyð (Faroe Islands)
These leavened flatbreads are baked in an oven unlike the uniquely Norwegian Crisp Flatbread (page 513), which is not. They are common all over the Nordic region and in many other parts of the world to which they are being exported. Their origins lie in Sweden and Finland where they have been baked more or less in their current form for about 500 years. In Sweden archaeologists have found evidence of flatbreads being made as early as the sixth century, those however were baked on hot stones. Since the early nineteenth century, when wood-fired baking ovens started to become more common on many farms, the dried crispbread with its characteristic hole in the middle became really common. Before the invention of the iron stove, baking was something people out on the farms did perhaps twice a year. Once in autumn (fall) after the harvest and once in spring when the winter stores had run out. The hole in the middle was simply there to facilitate the hanging and handling of the breads on long wooden poles, which would rest between the rafters of the farmhouse itself or those of a dedicated storage house.
Today very few people bake these kinds of breads themselves but rather buy them readymade. A meal with pickled herring that doesn’t include darkly toasted rye sourdough crispbread, good salty butter and mature cheese is for many, including myself, unthinkable.
Apart from when trying this recipe, I can barely remember a time when I made this myself but I thought it would be interesting to include it anyway. Not only because it is very tasty but also because it explains the method behind a very important part of Nordic food culture even though it isn’t practised any more.
It is a bit awkward to bake these in an ordinary domestic oven but it works ok. If you have access to a wood-fired bread oven or a pizza oven, that works the best.
Preparation and cooking time: 3 hours
Second baking: overnight (optional)
Makes: about 20 crispbreads
– 500 ml/17 fl oz (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon)
– 50 g/2 oz yeast
– 330 g/11½ oz (2½ cups) coarse rye flour, plus extra for sprinkling
– 400 g/14 oz (3 cups) strong wheat flour, plus extra to dust
– 2 teaspoons aniseed, crushed
Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and knead at medium speed until it doesn’t stick much to the edges of the bowl any more. It will take at least 10 minutes but can take longer. Leave the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Tip the dough out onto a floured work counter and divide into 15–20 equal-sized pieces, shape them with a floured hand into round buns and leave them to rise for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 225ºC/435ºF/Gas Mark 8. Line a baking sheet with baking (parchment) paper and place in the oven to heat up.
Sprinkle a good handful of rye flour onto a work counter and place a bun onto it. Roll the bun out into a round of at least 20 cm/8 inches in diameter and finish by rolling over it with a knobbed rolling pin. Continue with the remaining buns.
Place each round on the preheated baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. They don’t have to stay in the oven until they are crisp as they will dry afterwards. Let them cool on wire racks until completely crisp before eating them.
Tip: I like toasted crispbread, which means that you put them in the oven for a second baking and drying after they have all been baked the first time. To do this, reduce the oven temperature to 100ºC/200ºF/Gas Mark ¼, stack all of the crispbreads in a pile and place them in the oven on a wire rack overnight. They will darken considerably and dry completely.