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

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About: 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 from the depths of science-fiction to the darkest forests of Tolkienesque fan...

Intro: 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.

** 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!

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!

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44 Discussions

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Argyros

2 years ago

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

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Dawsie

2 years ago

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 :-)

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prickly_stegasaurus

2 years ago

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

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kimslayton

2 years ago

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.

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ewaldron

2 years ago

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

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JimTheWandererewaldron

Reply 2 years ago

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

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The Backyard Smithyewaldron

Reply 2 years ago

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

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ewaldronThe Backyard Smithy

Reply 2 years ago

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

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Juanc120ewaldron

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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jvanree

2 years ago

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

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lovethebackwoods

2 years ago

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!

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bryan3141lovethebackwoods

Reply 2 years ago

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!

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edithannlovethebackwoods

Reply 2 years ago

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?

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watchmeflyyedithann

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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edithann

2 years ago

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.

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alanjamesblairedithann

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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FlorinJ

2 years ago

"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.

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FlorinJ

2 years ago

"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.