Introduction: 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!