Introduction: Viking Bread( AKA Hard-Tac, Cram & Survival Flatbread).

Picture of Viking Bread( AKA Hard-Tac, Cram & Survival Flatbread).

If you're going on a hike and looking for some super easy to make lightweight carbs to take with you, are an a re-enactment enthusiast like myself, then you might well be interested in this make. Before the cultivation of yeast and developments into preservatives, grains wouldn't last all the way through the winter, and that that did was baked into hard loaves. These bread bites are light and fluffy on the inside, but with a thick crusty shell. This protected them for a long time from mould and the harsher effects of winter circa 500 A.D. when stored properly.

High in carbohydrates, this is perfect for long backpack trecks, after workout health meals etc...

Step 1: Gathering Utensils & Ingredients

Picture of Gathering Utensils & Ingredients

This took me about 45 minutes to bake, so not a long bake at all.

All you need is a packet of Strong flour. This is different to plain flour in the way that is is milled. You can use plain flour, but the effects will not be anywhere near as nice. Don't use self-raising. Seriously. Don't.

Also, warm water and table salt are required. I advise boiling the kettle and leaving it to cool for a few minutes, as then the water is sterile, but any source of warm water will do fine.

You will also need a baking tray, a large mixing bowl, a measuring jug and something to stir with. I like to use a fork and a knife, but if you prefer something different, use that.

** Warning**

Strong flour is made from Grains that are High in Gluten.

If you are wary of gluten due to intolerance or what have you, don't use strong flour. This recipe works well with plain flour, though the crust isn't quite as strong. Please go carefully if you have a gluten intolerance. I really don't want anyone to get hurt from my bread-making articles. I'm pretty sure that would make me a naf supervillain. And after all, if anyone were to become a supervillain, you'd want to be remembered for something awesome like summoning the Kraken. Not making some folk ill through incomplete instructions.

Step 2: Mixy Mixy, Shakey Shakey!

Picture of Mixy Mixy, Shakey Shakey!

Take 4-5 cups of flour (about 950-1100 grams) and stick that into your bowl.

I used 1000g, and with that, I added 3 teaspoons of salt into the mix

Of course, this is an estimate. The rule of thumb for dough is to add 3 parts flour to 1 part water. If it's too watery and isn't making that lovely not-too-elastic-but-also-doesn't-stick-to-the-table ball that we know and love, add more flour. If it's still got a bunch of free granules in the bowl an isn't morphing into that spongy ball, add a wee bit more water.

I say use warm water, as it's easier to work with. There isn't any yeast to activate, so it isn't crucial.

Step 3: Add the Water and Get Stirring.

Picture of Add the Water and Get Stirring.

Just like the heading says, add your water. Make a dell in the flour and pour it in. Then stir till all remnants of the granules are gone, replaced with a sturdy ball. It should hold it's shape and not bee too sticky. If it needs more flour, add some more.

Step 4: Knead Your Dough.

Picture of Knead Your Dough.

Once your happy with your doughball, it's time to toughen it up by kneading. Get your back into it. A good ten minutes of shoulder-pumping kneading gets the dough just about right.

Remember, use extra flour to stop it from sticking to your hands and workbench.

Step 5: Roll and Cut.

Picture of Roll and Cut.

Once you've finished your kneading, roll the dough into a square-ish shape about 1/2 an inch thick. Use a rolling pin to smooth it out if you want. Once you've done that, take a sharp knife and cut it into squares or whatever shape suits your fancy.

Place them onto a baking tray (you don't need to grease it or use baking paper etc...) and tick them in your oven at around 200C for somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes. Drop by every 10 minutes to make sure it's not burning.

Step 6: Done. Let Them Cool.

Picture of Done. Let Them Cool.

Expect them to rise about 2cm, but not much. They will resemble bricks, but are lovely and soft on the inside with a crisp shell. If you are using white flour, expect a golden brown, like in the picture. When using whole-wheat or brown flour, it can be a little harder to judge as the bricks come out darker and might look burnt. Just pop back to the oven every 10 to check.

These loaves are best stored in a cloth bag., somewhere cool and dry.

They taste pretty good as a snack, but if you want them as part of a meal, I would really recommend serving with some homemade gravy and some from of stew. It sounds weird, but go on. Give it a try. Let your inner Viking out!

Comments

Argyros (author)2016-09-20

Mine was hardly chewable the next day after baking and now is basically a brick. What did I do wrong?

Dawsie (author)2016-02-24

lol I grew up on this type of bread :-) but then where I was born might have something to do with it as our heritage is Viking on Grandpas side of the family :-)

Mum use to make it as it was cheap and filling and goes well with Scottish broth :-)

Well worth the time it takes to make and is great to keep in the pantry for snaks :-) I love the crunchy part :-) but they taste even better just out of the oven :-)

Thanks for bringing back old memories :-) I will have to make some now winter is on its way where I now live :-)

prickly_stegasaurus (author)2016-02-22

This is awesome!! if i get to make it, i'll post a picture of the finished product!:D

kimslayton (author)2016-02-14

I made a batch to field test on a flight before making it for an SCA event. I added cardamom and honey. It tastes good, though I found that kneading by hand for 10 minutes is a long time. I am in the U.S. so I set my oven to 400F and baked it for 20 minutes. I also used regular all purpose flour. My kids want me to try making some with garlic powder in it.

ewaldron (author)2016-02-09

How long do you think these should keep? Just wondering. I've seen other "hard-tac" ibles that describe the finished product as essentially a brick that would theoretically keep for years so long as it is kept dry. This sounds quite a bit more appatizing than those LOL

JimTheWanderer (author)ewaldron2016-02-14

I've had Hard tac last years. Keep it dry and don't rub mould on it and it keeps for bloody ages.

I haven't been making this all that long and I eat it up in about a week, so I don't really know. The theory goes that as long as you store them somewhere cool and dry, protect them from the damp and any places that have lots of germs (so like, not storing them in a sack in a barn or something) that they should then be able to last for at least a winter. From what I know of Norse Culture in Danelaw (the bits of England they ruled) there would be a large harvest festival in the late autumn, which the last of the old drink was used up and the new barrels of ale would be brought fourth. Old meats etc would be used up (those that were about to go bad) and the fresher would be brought out too. The grains that they had harvested would be either milled straight away into flour and them baked hard like this and stored away for the winter, or would be kept on the stalk and likewise protected from the rain and the wind etc... till it was needed. I'm not a professional or anything in history. Just amateur, and I could well have gotten bits wrong. But I do know for fact that this style of bread could last for at least a winter if stored properly.

If you're like me and have an accident & emergency bag (Just in case) and want some long-lasting foodstuffs to keep in it, this maybe isn't the best if you want to stock it now and (hopefully) never have to use it. Canned foods would be a safer bet. But if you're going on a long hike or a camping trip what have you, this is really good for that. it's lightweight and gives quite a bit of energy and can be used to form a decent meal (with some other stuff).

I'm sorry that I can't tell you more than my own speculation. If you find out anything more, please let me know. I'd love to find out it's actual limits xD

Thanks for the info! I love Norse culture but had never really dug into too much of the details such as this. I love learning new things. Some of the other "ibles" that I've seen dealt with American Civil War era hard-tac in which the bits were baked at a lower temp and for a longer period of time so that they would basically toast all the way through making them extremely hard. They are said to keep nearly indefinitely under proper conditions.

Your variety seem much more apetising LOL

Juanc120 (author)ewaldron2016-02-09

You can eat some and keep the rest into the freezer (inside a zip plastic bag) and pick them on demand. They are defrosted in 5 min.

jvanree (author)2016-02-13

Very cool instructable, thanks! Had to search for a while on what hard flour is in Dutch (patentbloem) but definitely going to try this.

Rhuebarb made it! (author)2016-02-12

I mixed it up a bit 350gm each semolina and rye and 300gm whole wheat

Rhuebarb (author)Rhuebarb2016-02-12

Very hearty, crunchy

lovethebackwoods (author)2016-02-09

I spent much of my growing-up time with my Norwegian grandmother, who always insisted that bread, pancakes, etc. tasted much better if we sang to the ingredients as we assembled them into snacks and meals! Since I adored my grandmother and loved eating her wonderful food and singing, it was all a win-win situation and is a tradition I have followed to this day. I'm not sure how singing songs about birds, Little Ole's umbrella, and my brother's pillow insured the authenticity of our Viking recipes, but I'll let you know how this new recipe comes out. Thanks for sharing this awesome-looking recipe! Great photos and directions!

Often times, singing/chanting while cooking (or brewing remedies) was a way of timing things. Singing about your brother's pillow is certainly a lot more fun than "one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi...twelve-hundred-Mississippi". The timing may now be done using the kitchen timer, but the tradition/habit of singing remains 'cause it's fun!

I LOVE THE SINGING PART. SINGING IS USUALLY JOYFUL, SO WHY WOULDN'T IT MAKE THINGS BETTER!! LITTLE CHILDREN MAKE UP SONGS ALL THE TIME. I THINK WE HAVE JUST FORGOTTEN THAT AS WE GET OLDER. SINGING TO OR TALKING TO A PERSON OR OBJECT (MY CAT) MAKES US GIVE IT MORE ATTENTION SO THAT HAS TO BE GOOD. RIGHT?

watchmeflyy (author)2016-02-07

I'll have to try this; thanks for sharing!

edithann (author)watchmeflyy2016-02-10

LOVE THE DRAGON!

watchmeflyy (author)edithann2016-02-10

Thank you! emilyvanleemput painted it for my Christmas gift (she's in the process of writing a tutorial for it), and the dragon is from Spirited Away, a Miyazaki film.

edithann (author)2016-02-10

I am an American - what is 200c equal to for my oven? Thanks. I do think most breads are baked around 325 to 350 degrees. Can't wait to try it. Let you know about the add-ins I try.

alanjamesblair (author)edithann2016-02-10

According to Google, it's 392F. I'd think if you're going to check every 10 min, you might as well tip it up to 400F.

FlorinJ (author)2016-02-10

"grains wouldn't last all the way through the winter" - actually no. Grains were kept from one crop to the next in dry clay or stone vessels. Even today, in my region families often keep flour in a large wooden crate padded with sheet metal in the attic. The attic is almost always very dry, both in winter and in the summer, and the sheet metal prevents rodents from getting to the flour. Flour kept this way lasts for years.

Safe way to get the right mix of water and flour: pour in warm water little by little, while kneading energetically, until you have a dough that does no longer stick to your hands. Then pour some more, in tiny portions, one teaspoon at a time (when kneading about 0.6 kg of wheat), until the dough starts becoming just a little bit sticky again. Then knead vigorously until it stops sticking again. I know, it's a lot of kneading, but that's what it's all about with bread dough - kneading is what gets the gluten to polymerize. (I knead my yeasty bread for at least 30 minutes, to have it raise spectacularly). Reason for this process: depending on air humidity and flour storage conditions, the water content of flour may vary significantly, and wile kneading water may evaporate at a different rate, so there isn't a very precisely fixed amount of water you can always use and be sure you'll get the same dough consistency.

FlorinJ (author)2016-02-10

"grains wouldn't last all the way through the winter" - actually no. Grains were kept from one crop to the next in dry clay or stone vessels. Even today, in my region families often keep flour in a large wooden crate padded with sheet metal in the attic. The attic is almost always very dry, both in winter and in the summer, and the sheet metal prevents rodents from getting to the flour. Flour kept this way lasts for years.

Safe way to get the right mix of water and flour: pour in warm water little by little, while kneading energetically, until you have a dough that does no longer stick to your hands. Then pour some more, in tiny portions, one teaspoon at a time (when kneading about 0.6 kg of wheat), until the dough starts becoming just a little bit sticky again. Then knead vigorously until it stops sticking again. I know, it's a lot of kneading, but that's what it's all about with bread dough - kneading is what gets the gluten to polymerize. (I knead my yeasty bread for at least 30 minutes, to have it raise spectacularly). Reason for this process: depending on air humidity and flour storage conditions, the water content of flour may vary significantly, and wile kneading water may evaporate at a different rate, so there isn't a very precisely fixed amount of water you can always use and be sure you'll get the same dough consistency.

Crossforge (author)2016-02-10

Ok. Let me help out with the "Strong flour" thing. Strong or bread flour is normally milled from grains that are harder (Higher density and weight) than normal grains. The milling process is also not the same as for normal (cake) flour. Milling is done at lower speed reducing the amount of heat generated in the flour. The lower heat causes less chemical changes in the flour during the milling process.

This flour does have more gluten which aids in keeping the dough in one piece when rising. It also yields a more nutritious loaf of bread and the taste is in my experience much better.

The ultimate is off course, stone ground flour.

I personally only use strong (bread) flour for all my baking, be it bread, scones, pan-cakes, cakes or whatever I am baking.

dmadam (author)2016-02-10

How about adding a little honey to the mix for some flavor. Honey does not go bad and is antimicrobial. Even some spices like cinnamon.

VladM3 (author)2016-02-09

I know this bread by the name "bannock." Common to Scotland and also to Canadian First Nation's.

marishka.noyb (author)2016-02-09

High Gluten? That's not good for some people but the bread sounds good and gluten doesn't bother me I think

I'm pretty sure that Strong flour is milled from high-gluten content plants.

if you aren't sure, go carefully. I would hate to think that someone got hurt because of that. I'm going to edit this and add that in, just as a warning.

I did once make this recipe with plain flour by mistake (though I added about 200g extra which might have made up for it) and the squares came out almost identically. I believe that plain flour is of a much lower gluten content (though I am not sure about all that) so if it would be safer and you want to have a go, i'm sure that plain flour would be a perfect facsimile.

ALL wheat flour contains gluten. most grains do. do some research on celiac disease and you will see that it can kill.

like I said, not all grains contain it , so do the search as I am sure that almost any grain flour will work for this application.

Above all this , a great in`stble...thanks for posting it !

Krimlar (author)Krimlar2016-02-09

Also , if you cut them into rounds ( think biscuits) , and "re-work" the scraps no more than once, the `Tacks will last longer and not be as difficult to nibble on at the corners.

just a note: ( from Wiki, I LOVE them !!! ).... as a Chef I know this, but wanted to give you the specifics.....this is why honey is, or can be, added to items to increase the "moist" shelf-life of items. Also, since yeast cells die off @ 138 Far., I think Honey can be used for this recipe to great advantage. Am going to do this In`stble asap and let you guys know.

Everyone, please remember this tip for all your future baking s !!!!

"Honey has the ability to absorb moisture directly from the air, a phenomenon called hygroscopy. The amount of water the honey will absorb is dependent on the relative humidity of the air. Because honey contains yeast, this hygroscopic nature requires that honey be stored in sealed containers to prevent fermentation, which usually begins if the honey's water content rises much above 25%. Honey will tend to absorb more water in this manner than the individual sugars would allow on their own, which may be due to other ingredients it contains"

AndrzejR (author)2016-02-09

love hard shelled breads, seems that this bread is pretty much JUST the shell, so should be perfect :)

Krimlar (author)AndrzejR2016-02-09

AGREE.... I think it would make a great ' Trencher ".....

jwhyman (author)2016-02-09

for those of us in the states, 200c =392f

jwhyman (author)jwhyman2016-02-09

or for vikings, the time it takes for a handful of grain to burn . . .

Krimlar (author)jwhyman2016-02-09

LMAO !!!!

Gary_KCMO (author)2016-02-09

What the heck is "strong flower"?

Krimlar (author)Gary_KCMO2016-02-09

Also known as " Bread Flour " , as seen in the picture.

It's one of the ways that flour can be milled. I've found it's best to make your own flour, but for that you need a relatively expensive machine which I haven't access too, so I just bought some from my local shop. I think it's got larger grains in or something. Google claims that Strong flour is made from high gluten grains, which might well explain it.

naomiandtom (author)Gary_KCMO2016-02-09

It would be a high gluten flour, or in the states we call it bread flour.

RickS70 (author)2016-02-09

how tasty is it? Or is it just survival food.....Mountain Man

The way that I made it in this instructable it just tastes like bread with a thick crust, though you can always add in seasonings if you like. I've made it before with Caraway seeds in, which was rather nice. That might not appeal to everyone's pallet, so try with pepper maybe? I have thought about mixing in honey to the dough to try and flavour it that way, though I haven't yet and don't quite know how it would turn out. Experiment! See what flavour combinations you can create. In this form it is pretty much a brick of carbohydrates and does need some extra flavourings. I've made my own gravy before and had it with that and some beef stew, which was very nice. It's really either a snack or part of a meal, you know?

Pothuset (author)2016-02-09

"Strong flour" is a wheat flour with high content of gluten

carl.myhill (author)2016-02-09

Ive made damper, which is very similar i think, in a frying pan over a camp fire with very good results. Think i used self raising flour though. But i bet you dont need an over to do this. Great instructable though.

icelandinthesun (author)2016-02-09

I live in Iceland so I am happy to inform you that this is real.

claidheamdanns (author)2016-02-09

Thanks for sharing. As a hiking enthusiast and a Celt (but probably one born out of Viking invasions), I can't wait to try these.

r_anderson_c (author)2016-02-07

Sounds nice and easy. I can't wait to try it, thanks for sharibg

shayb3 (author)r_anderson_c2016-02-07

I concur

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Bio: Hi, So, I'm Alex. I'm an aspiring Blacksmith, and I like to make props and costume pieces for Comic Conventions and LARP, ranging ... More »
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