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Swedish Tunnbrod

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The characteristic that defines Sweden's very special Tunnbröd, "thin bread," is that it is flavored with fennel or anise seeds. It thus makes a superlative "wrap" for tuna, crab, or shrimp salad sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled until "finger warm"
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, warmed to room temperature
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose or spelt flour (or a combination)
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground fennel or anise seeds (in the spirit of the old Swedish cooking adage attributed to Kasja Warg, "Use what you have available")

Preparation:

Pour the melted butter and lukewarm milk into the bowl of a standing mixer (the combined temperature should be between 105° and 110° Fahrenheit). Mix in the active dry yeast, salt, and sugar; allow to "proof" for 20 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and fennel (or anise) seeds. Turn the mixer, equiped with a paddle, on at a "medium" speed and add the flour mixture in 1/2 cup increments until all of the flour is absorbed. Exchange the paddle for the dough hook and knead the dough at medium-high until it is smooth and glossy (about 7 minutes). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Divide the bread dough into 12 equal portions. Then, using a hob-knobbed rolling pin (if possible; a regular rolling pin will work almost as well), roll out into a paper-thin rectangle (about the size of U.S. letter paper: 8" x 12").

Heat a dry lefse or pancake griddle over medium heat just until a drop of water sizzles on the surface (you don't want to overheat the iron).

Prick each piece of tunnbröd well with a fork, then bake on the griddle, flipping once (2-3 minutes per side).

Alternatively, you can bake the bread on cookie sheets in a 400° Fahrenheit oven for 6 minutes, flipping once.

After the flatbread is baked, cover with slightly damp, heated tea towels and allow to cool. The flatbread can then be stored in airtight containers or frozen for future use.

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