Short & Sweet : Rye Crispbreads and Cider Squash Farls

Sourdough Rye crisp breads – extra thin and snappy with it! The Holy Grail for me at least of rye crackers is that they should snap and be brittle, something like a potato crisp (chip in US English) rather than something you have to gnaw your way through. Stale crisp breads usually respond well to a reheat in the oven, but if they are too thick and hard then they are no fun at all.

Like just about everything in the wonderful world of bread, tastes vary and this is what makes it all the more worthwhile making your own and finding your way to the breads you want to eat yourself. 

I adapted Dan Lepard’s recipe in Short & Sweet to use 250 g of lovely rye starter and dried milk powder and I am really pleased with the results. Really, really ecstatically pleased!  Dan’s recipe is much faster than this, as he says, you can grab a bag of rye flour and have crackers 20 minutes later, (I am not sure I think that fast, let alone collect ingredients in that time, but I am not going to argue about it).  I am going to try the original way too and see how they taste.

When I first tried making crisp breads, armed with my special Swedish pin from my Aunt they came out hard and bendy not sweet and snappy like these and the only reference I made to them on the blog was as a mystery item in this quiz post back last summer.  Nobody guessed what they were either; now that time I used another of Dan’s recipes so I reckon it is all down to practice, no one wants to hear that but I think that’s the bottom line.

From my huge experience (who am I kidding? I’ve done this all of three times now) I think that recipes for crispbreads are just a starting point and that what really matters is how you roll them out and temperature and cooking time – so you need to experiment a bit rather than expect to follow a recipe blindly and get it right from the first attempt. Having said that there is always the God of amateur bakers benignly dusting her flour shaker and bestowing her grace on us humble mortals…

Anyway I LOVE these!

 If you can get them really thin they are completely and utterly wonderful, and I speak as someone who has eaten a lot of indifferent rye crispbreads over the years….

I made very small balls, dusted them with flour, flattened them with my hand and then rolled them out as thin as I could, using light rye flour  – if you don’t have this then sieve some coarse rye flour to get rid of the bran if you want to have a lighter flour.

I also had a narrow smooth rolling Turkish rolling pin. Much easier to see and feel what you are doing with one of these than my big fat rolling pin which always seems to stick to everything. I pinched off quite small balls of dough, half the size of a golf ball approx, and  kept dusting board and hands as I went. Then I pressed the balls out, rolled them into round-square shapes, turning the shapes by a quarter after each roll to make sure they didn’t stick. After a while I got into a rhythm and I enjoyed doing these.

My pin came from Turkey with my neighbour who went there for a holiday. What a lovely gift!  It looks like a piece of dowel.  It makes a difference, can’t figure out quite why but it does, you can apply light and even pressure and you can see what you are doing much better than with a big rolling pin.  You are also liable to hit things off the worktop with it if you don’t clear a space before you start, but that’s all part of the fun!

I used a roll press to press a spiral pattern into the crackers for decoration, and I rolled the Swedish pin over a couple to see what that would look like.  Cookie cutters would work, as long as you have a spatula to lift them onto the baking sheet for baking as they are very delicate. I rolled a few sesame seeds on some of them, you can season them just about with anything you think will work, I am thinking about fennel seeds and dill seed maybe?


 I thought about leaving them to rise a bit, but I didn’t in the end.

I baked them in an electric fan oven on floured trays at 180 C for 7 – 8 minutes. The thinnest ones baked perfectly in 7 minutes, the slightly thicker ones needed a minute longer.  Anything handmade like this is always going to be subject to variations. I recommend baking a few at a time and keeping a close eye on them, taking them out, testing etc then you can fine tune your rolling out and your bake times.


Only thing is, now I’ve got a cracker I adore, I don’t want to buy them any more…


I also made the cider and pumpkin farls, which were the other option for this week’s baking for Short and Tweet;  hefty ribsticking food, using butternut squash and some rather nice Belgian cider. A farl is a sort of fried scone.  We had those for supper with bacon and a poached egg one night and the leftovers reheated well the next day for a brunch. They are not what I call a delicate bread, the texture of mine was somewhere between a stottie and a piece of cooked polenta, rather than a fluffy scone which was  what they were supposed to be like. Maybe it’s down to how much moisture you squeeze out of the veg before you add it to the dough. Anyway they are  quick to put together and quick to cook and you can tweek the ingredients and the seasonings to your heart’s content. If you are a stove top bread fan, don’t overlook this recipe at the back of the book just because it has no photo with it. Look at my photos and the round up post to see just what they look like.

Hope you all had a crackingly good Christmas and are well rested!
Happy New Year to you all!

40 thoughts on “Short & Sweet : Rye Crispbreads and Cider Squash Farls

  1. ceciliag

    I am dying to make these crisp breads, they are so gorgeous and also you will be so proud of me,, i am making the raisin rye sourdough loaf again, it is rising now (for the night) and i am fairly sure this one will work.. everything came together really well, Fingers crossed! Love your scone thing, mum used to make potato scones like that on top of the cooker.. with left over mashed potato.. hmm, i have that recipe somewhere too, i wonder if it is like yours.. I will check.. love love c

    1. Joanna Post author

      Anyone who can wrangle sheep and cows the way you do deserves a medal! Have you ever made gnocchi Celi? this is something like the texture of those. I think I was a bit heavy handed with the dough and should have mixed less and got it a bit dryer. But yes, probably a lot like your Mum’s potato scones. All good economic stove top foods, for filling up hungry bellies :) (And now I must go to bed, yikes!)

    1. Joanna Post author

      One can’t bake all the time! or blog for that matter :) These little crisp breads are the business though Celia, so I hope you try them.

  2. Debra Kolkka

    These look delicious. I buy Finn crisps because they are Finnish and I am biased, but also because they are good. I really must have a crack at making my own.
    I hope 2012 is going to be wonderful for you.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Finn Crisps are excellent and I have eaten many of them over the years, muttering only 19 calories per slice as I cover them with butter…. I have no idea how they make those. I also like Siljans Knackebrod (which we grew up eating before Finn Crisp turned up in English supermarkets) and I am quite fond of the Peters Yards ones, though they are terribly expensive and a bit of a ‘designer’ product. So yes, not all crisp bread is bad, but there is some horrible stuff out there, mentioning no names. :)

  3. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I keep meaning to make more crisp breads and never seem to get around to doing them. I think my bready mojo has come back though so I will definitely put it on my list of things to do. Being away and having to buy and eat shop yeasted bread definitely brings back kitchen mojo!
    Happy New Year Joanna, I hope the next year is full of all things wonderful for you.

  4. Just A Smidgen

    I loved that you showed in such great detail how to make these. I’m also envying your little turkish rolling pin, so lucky to get one of these as a gift!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks for visiting me! I have had a look at your beautiful blog this morning and am so envious of the Canadian snow, it looks so peaceful out there…. :)

  5. azelias kitchen

    Happy New Year Joanna! Will look forward to stealing 5mins here and there and dip in and out of your blog to read your foodie adventures. xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      And to you too Az :) I don’t know how much blogging I will manage this year, we’ll have to see what happens next, maybe just stick to things that get me excited like these crisp breads.

  6. Nicola

    I admired these on twitter, and I’m admiring these again! Light is beautiful in first few photos. Completely agree with you that most baking things need practise – first time to see what type of thing you’re actually making, and understand what the writer’s trying to get at – then at least once more when you can put your general experience behind it to better interpret any more subtle points and adjust to your taste. Oh, and play around as you did with starter, toppings, etc! I may never make these in case I never stop making them…

    My Farls were dense and heavy, and could by no means be described as light and fluffy. Much like cooked polenta! (about to look up stottie) Though they were dryish/set in the middle. Not really a 1st janfood ;-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Nicola! The sun came out for all of five minutes and I dropped what I was doing and ran around the kitchen with crisp breads in hand trying to find the light, yelling at Brian to move things off the table so I could put them in the one patch of sunshine….

      Trouble with challenges is that you keep moving on to the next thing and often don’t go back and do things again, but these I will. Not so sure about the farls. The stottie recipe I have used is an oven baked dough which uses cooked potato Dan (again) in the HML.

  7. azelias kitchen

    oh and I agree with you on baking & crispness, you can dry pretty much anything it’s all about the oven temperature and length of time in there…

    ….having been practicing for years now crisping up allergy kids numerous biscuits I can tell you the first batch of any new type of ‘stuff’ is a test batch to your oven and that recipe. Many a times I’ve had to put things back in to dry further, at lower temperature.

    In fact with some things it’s easier to bake the first time, let it cool and put it back at very low temperature to further dry and crisp up…twice bake if you like. With some things the action of cooling and reheating works brilliantly since there are ingredients who’s structure changes doing that and one that comes to mind right now is rice.

    Anyway, my advice is always if it comes out and still soft put it back in at low temperature to dry or sometimes all its needed is to turn oven off, door slightly open and leaving it finish drying.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Good advice :) thank you Az. I must make more biscuits and crispy things, trouble is they either get eaten all at once or tend to sit in boxes for too long and then get thrown out. I might make some of these and send to family by post :)

  8. gillthepainter

    Good morning to you, Joanna.
    You are absolutely right in searching for the brittleness. Anything else just will not do.

    I cracked it just about with the knäckebröd, but only once. (I think that means I gave up).
    Part of the trick was to leave them out for 24-48hrs on a rack. Which is frustrating in a small kitchen – no problem your end.

    I’ll check if I’ve got rye flour in, and spring into action in the kitchen this morning if I have.


    1. Joanna Post author

      And to you Gill, except it is now afternoon !

      Did you leave them out before baking? How interesting, I did think about letting mine rise as they had leaven in them. More experiments needed I think. xx

      1. gillthepainter

        I’ve just mixed mine up, using 100g fresh, rye fed, leaven.
        And was just thinking the same thing about their rising.
        I’ll be leaving mine to “activate” for 1hr30 perhaps? Then proceed with the rolling.


        1. Joanna Post author

          I made another batch last night and used milk and found the dough softer and stickier than with the milk powder water combo and not quite as full flavoured and I wasn’t in the ‘rolling zone’ so they kept sticking to the roller and I used a lot more flour on rolling out. I got there in the end :) so I would leave and let the levain do its souring thing, quite right!

  9. C

    They look great – I had fun making these, so quick and easy. Perhaps I was lucky with my oven temperature, because mine seemed to dry out just fine. Or perhaps I’m less precise and exacting!!! Either way they’re very tasty and a quick bake.

    I like the look of the farls and might still give them a go, just didn’t get round to it in time for the round up. Yours look great, and they’re a very cheery colour for this time of the year.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks C! Everyone who’s made them so far seems to be pretty pleased with the results. I am going to pop over and read your post right away :)

  10. Misk Cooks

    Peder loves these. He’s said so quite a few times, as if I’m not listening or cold stone deaf. I’ve also discovered that they freeze well, so no need to worry about them going soft and needing another blast of heat to crisp them up. They do seem to suit strongly flavoured food though, Stilton, smoked salmon, etc.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thankfully mine haven’t gone the least bit soft. I store them in a Lock and Lock with some silica gel and they keep perfectly. I will eat them on their own, with cheese, with jam, with a little butter, I love them 100%, the only question is whether I will make them regularly, I might have to :)

  11. timethief

    Oh my! Do these ever look delicious. Now I need to direct my husband to this recipe and let him know how much I’d like to eat some cider and pumpkin farls. :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Well they might be just the thing, Heidi, the original recipe says pumpkin! Though you can substitute carrot or swede (rutabaga). Good on a cold day when you have a lot of work to do :)

  12. Jean

    Interesting those rye crispbreads..I’ve never seen an article about the process of making them!

    And happy new year to you!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Happy New Year to you Jean, lovely to hear from you :) This really makes a very thin crisp bread, quite fragile but a good sub if you are craving something to nibble and want to avoid bags of chips and so on.

      I don’t know how the bigger, ryvita style ones are made, and how they achieve all that air and crisp… no idea at all…. the time I tried to make a sturdier one I ended up with cardboard.

  13. Melanie

    Very nice looking crispbread!! I was very impressed when I saw them on Twitter. Definitely quite thin. I’ve made crackers, but not tried crispbread. Will definitely put these in my to try file. I love eating salty, crispy things. The design on yours reminds me of some sort of fossilized prehistoric snail.

    1. Joanna Post author

      How interesting :) What sort of crackers have you made Melanie? I think they are all part of the same family of breads, flat and dry… Would love to have the ability to make different sorts… maybe this is the year of the crisp bread/cracker :)

        1. Joanna Post author

          They looked good Mel and quite different from these. So many things to make and try out !

          By the way here is a link to Dan Lepard’s sprouted grain bread, which you might like to try one day if you are still sprouting. It’s a great bread, I’ve made it several times

  14. thelittleloaf

    I’ve never made crisp breads, or found myself that excited about them, but your enthusiasm is infectious! I really want to try making some now and am already thinking about what I can top them with and dip them in. Love the sprinkling of sesame seeds on the top too.

    1. Joanna Post author

      They are only exciting if they taste of something, so many just taste like cardboard after all.

      I made a second batch yesterday and I prefer my sourdough version of these to the straight rye flour one, it has more tang. I was thinking that one could maybe put a drop of vinegar or yoghurt in the recipe if one didn’t have fermented rye to do this with. Look forward to seeing you play with them one day soon :)

  15. Sincerely, Emily

    I simply HAVE to make crackers this year. I have been putting it off for far too long. Your crispbread looks WONDERFUL! I plan to roll my through a pasta roller.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Evidence Matters put hers through a pasta roller and I think maybe Mitchdafish did too. It’s great fun to make, if a little crazy :)

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