A staple food of shepherds, peasants and Vikings, "bread that breaks" is made from barley flour, water, and salt. Traditionally, the dough was kneaded with snow or ice powder that evaporated during baking and gave it its characteristic crunch.
Its main quality was its long shelf life. Cooked once or twice a year, once after the summer harvest and again in the spring, it was pierced in the middle so that it could be hung from a stick on the ceiling for drying and then stored in a storage room.
Bread was historically the main ingredient of the meal. It was served in chunks in a soup or hot drink or as a slice of bread that was spread with butter. In poorer regions that did not have cereals or bread, dried fish worked like bread. Beaten with a stone until it became soft, the fish was spread with butter and eaten like a sandwich.
In the Middle Ages, bread making was a male job and associated with a high status in society: professional baker.
Conversely, in the countryside, bread-making is the work of women and the process of making bread is passed on from generation to generation. There is therefore little written about bread-making at the time.
Over time, recipes have evolved and rye is used in the preparation of knekkebrod. Rye is making a breakthrough in Scandinavia where harsh weather conditions and poor soil favour its establishment. Rye in baked bread is often mixed with barley or pea flour for economy, and flour is used to bark it in times of famine.
The transition to a more urban and modern era gave way to more industrialized consumption and sandwich loaves were introduced. From the 1920s onwards, bread was bought in shops and bakeries instead of baking it at home as had been the case until then.
In recent years, on the other hand, there has been a renewed interest in "crispy" breads, which have appeared in various versions with different flours, seeds and spices. Knekkebrød is now an essential part of the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish table. Knekkebrød is eaten with savoury or sweet side dishes, depending on the time of day.
Sigdal, a Franco-Norwegian adventure
In 2012, Rémi Goulignac stops in the village of Sigdal in Norway to buy bread. This simple gesture, on the way to a family weekend in the mountains, will be the starting point of an incredible adventure.
Rémi is the founder of United Bakeries, a Norwegian family company which, since the 90s, has revolutionised the consumption of bread in this northern country by developing a range of breads made in France and adapted to the Norwegian taste. French by his father, Rémi Goulignac is also Norwegian by his mother.
Rémi Goulignac is a competent man with a passion for bread when he pushes the door of the artisanal bakery in the village of Sigdal. There he discovers a crisp bread (dry bread) with a surprisingly high level of seeds. It is a revelation. Within a few weeks, he bought the recipe from the artisan and started the production of Sigdal crisp bread on a large scale.
In 2014, the first Sigdal packages will be sold in France.