Wildness from the North of Sweden (BBB November 2021)

go directly to the recipe

BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Wild Hällakakor; I shouldn’t be so quick to judge; taste and try first; kuskavel or randkavel: do I really need yet another implement in the kitchen? (and, what kind of rolling pin???); …improvisations; meat tenderizers aren’t just for meat; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Taste and try before you…

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Hällakakor


This month, Kelly took the BBBabes to Sweden, deciding we would make Swedish Norrländska hällakaka, which literally translates as “Northern Rural Slab-cakes”). How do I know that? Ha. It’s not exactly thanks to Google Translate alone.

When I was searching on the internet, I came across recipes for tunnbröd, that looked very similar to hällakaka. The word “tunnbröd” translates as “flatbread” in Google Translate. The word “hällakaka” was more problematic for Google Translate; it suggested “pouring cakes”. And, after a little manipulation of “Norrländska” into “Norr ländska”, Google Translate comes up with “Northern rural”.

So, after having only moderate success with Google Translate, I decided to ask Ilva (Ilva Baretta Photography, previously at Lucullian Delights), who is actually Swedish.

me: I’m curious. Is Hällakakor simply another name for tunnbröd [flatbread], or are they completely different? And am I correct that Hällakakor’s literal translation is “slab-cakes”? or perhaps “pavingstones”??
she: Hällakakor are not tunnbröd, well it could be called a sort of subspecies. […] Häll means stone slab so you are right. As for the hällakaka, I think you can add certain spices to it like caraway […], something you don’t find in tunnbröd
– from messages between Ilva and me

Also required to make these cakes (a single one is called a Hällakaka) is a randkavel. Ha!! If necessity is the mother of invention, then parsimoniousness must be the aunt of it….

randkavel search on Google

Here’s how things went making the BBBabes’ November 2021 bread:

BBB Hällakakor diary:

6 October 2021, 12:54 This looks like fun!!
Fair warning, this is how I cracked my baking stone in two
– Kelly, in message to BBBabes

But, eeeeeeek, my bread stone is already in 3 pieces! I think I’ll use our big cast iron pan….

14 October 2021, 13:15 Now. What about this fancy rolling pin that is used in Sweden?

As far as the rolling pins are concerned, I was able to get the deep, notched pin, called a kuskavel […] However, I was never able to find a large randkavel with wide grooves and contented myself with a tagliatelle cutting roller. […] But as these breads were originally just flat breads and can still be cooked plainly that way, I figured I could always make something work with a pizza wheel or just simple and generous docking.
-Kelly, message to BBBabes

I’m way too much of a skinflint to buy a new rolling pin…. I have a vague idea that the shortbread stamp that is hanging on the wall will work after rolling out the dough, followed by hole poking with the tiny shaped cookie cutters (stars, hearts, circles) that we have. What do you think?

Shortbread Mould

19 October 2021 at 13:21 I finally watched Kelly’s rolling video. Interesting!! Now that it isn’t painfully hot in the kitchen – it’s almost painfully cold now – but let’s pretend that I didn’t say that. (I’m not allowed to say “I’m cold” any more.)

We also have a very nifty (never-used) Korean cookie press decoratively hanging on the wall that might prove useful.

Korean Cookie Mould

20 October 2021, 13:30 Tanna has a good suggestion for a substitute for a kruskavel rolling pin: the bread stamps we got to make Uyghur Naan in February.

But I thought I’d google to see what others suggest. There are zillions of pages suggesting to use wine bottles, wooden dowels, drinking glasses, beer cans, etc. But most of the suggested substitutes are smooth.

But. Look at this idea:
Often, condiment jars are a nice cylindrical shape and, if they’re tall enough, they can work well as a rolling pin substitute, though you might have to do some strategic turns.
– Jaron, Foodsguy | 17 Creative Rolling Pin Substitutes

While jamming jars, with their raised fruit patterns, might be a little bit short, they might do the trick. And it seems to me that we might have a jam jar that has a diamond pattern. Next time I venture into the basement, I’ll look more carefully in our jam jar stash.

Oooh!! What about a wooden foot massager (combined with the bread stamp for docking)? This should work!! It just has to be cleaned first with some vinegar to get the foot germs off….

wooden foot massager

17:01 sunflower oil bottle I just noticed that our sunflower oil bottle looks pretty much like the bottle in this Shutterstock photo. Hmmm. Oiled THEN massaged flat bread? {snort}

10 November 2021, 07:57 I’ve been thinking about the item in the ingredients list: “1 g (¼ tsp) deer horn salt (baker’s ammonia), dissolved in water”. I’m pretty sure that this is what people used before baking powder was invented. Can it really still be available? Wouldn’t there be huge outcries from animal rights people?

Long before baking powder became a common household item, making light, crispy, sweet pastries was neither easy nor for the faint of “hart.” To get a good rise without yeast, bakers used a powder made from “hart’s horn,” or red deer antlers. […] It appears in recipes dating back as early as the Middle Ages, when it would have been first used by chefs of the nobility.
Though today’s chemically made ammonium bicarbonate is slightly different from the antler-based hartshorn of yore, it still functions to produce a fluffier, crisper cookie and helps springerle maintain their ornate designs. It can be purchased at some stores and online. But remember, keep your cookies thin; thick doughs will not allow the ammonia to escape.
Atlas Obscura | Hartshorn

In “Mary at the farm and book of recipes” (1915) by Mrs. Edith m. Thomas, the recipe for Honig Kuchen (Honey Cakes) on p.363 calls for hartshorn, as does the recipe for Braune Lebkuchen on p.371: “1 ounce of hartshorn, dissolved in a little milk […] Allow the cake dough to stand in a warm place eight to ten days before baking.

HARTSHORN, HARTSHORN-JELLY. Hartshorn was formerly the main source of ammonia, and its principal use was in the production of smelling salts. But hartshorn shavings were used, in a different operation, to produce a special and edible jelly. In her recipe for a ‘Hedge-Hog’, 85, Hannah Glasse assumes that the reader will know how to make this. A full recipe is given by Nott (1726), and earlier authors.(Glasse, 1747)
Pasteur Brewing | Old-Time Ingredients, Measurements and Descriptions
[A]mmonium bicarbonate, an old-fashioned (probably now hard to get?) leavening agent […] is a byproduct of hartshorn, a substance extracted from deer antlers [harts horn]. Hartshorn is most commonly referenced in old cookbooks in jelly recipes. It was also known a source for ammonia, which could be used as a leavener.
Food Timeline | cookies, crackers & biscuits
Mrs. D. A. Lincoln took a major step in another direction when she published The Boston Cook Book in 1884, the first to list ingredients at the beginning of each recipe and to insist on precise, consistent measurement. […] An advertisement at the back of Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book promotes Cleveland’s Baking Powder as “absolutely the best” because it does not contain either alum or ammonia. In fact, “It does not contain any adulteration whatever,” claims a testimonial by Professor Morton, president of Stevens Institute of Technology.
– Ann Chandonet, Gold Rush Grub
Hartshorn is a chemical leavener for cooking that was used before baking powder and baking soda became available.It used to be made from the ground-up antlers of a hart (the term for a male deer.) It could also be obtained by distilling hair or decomposed urine. Later, it was chemically reproduced as ammonium carbonate. […] Hartshorn won’t leave any alkaline flavour as baking powder or baking soda can sometimes. The downside to it was that any traces of it left in the baked good would leave a trace of an ammonia smell. […] Today, Hartshorn is a chemical, an ammonium salt derived from the carbonic acid called (NH4)2CO3, so you no longer have to fret about adding ground reindeer antler or dried urine into your cookie dough.
Cook’s Info | Hartshorn

I confess that – especially after reading all that – I just don’t want to use it. Even if the smell of ammonia dissipates. Even if the resulting bread is fluffier. (That’s right; I’m a BBBaby….)

Besides, this recipe calls for yeast. Some of the naan recipes I’ve seen call for yeast and baking powder. But we never add baking powder to our naan, and it always turns out fabulously.

That’s it; I’ve decided I’m going to “forget” to buy deer horn salt, nor am I going to substitute with baking powder. (Because I’m a bad BBBabe) :stomp: :stomp:

Of the Swedish pages that Kelly pointed to: Sandra’s (Dalmation Mom), NinaN’s (Var i helsicke är min grapefrukt?), and Kokaihop’s recipes call for zero hartshorn, or deer horn salt, or baking powder – the only leavener is yeast. Ha! I’ll go with them and then I can pretend I’m not a bad BBBabe after all.

Also, it turns out I have a Swedish Cookbook ❗ ❗ (Hmmm… Why do I have a Swedish cookbook?) It is “Good food in Sweden: a Selection of Swedish Dishes” by Oskar Jakobsson. The book is divided into provinces, but the index has nothing about Hällakakor or crackers. Armed with the fact that Kelly called these “Norrländska Hällakakor”, I looked at the handy map at the back of Mr. Jakobsson’s book to learn that the northern provinces are Lappland, Norbotten, and Västerbotten.

Provinces of Sweden

Aha!! On pages 121-122, in the Norrbotten chapter, there is a recipe for Sour Rusks. The recipe calls for sour milk, yeast, sugar, “grease or cooking fat”, salt, rye flour, and seasonings “according to taste (fennel-seed, anise, cardamom)“. The bread isn’t shaped quite the same – ie: not flat. Instead the instructions are to “Shape into long thin rolls“, and after putting the rolls onto a greased cookie sheet, “prick them and let rise“. After baking in a “medium hot oven”, the rolls are sliced and then toasted and dried in the oven. Aha: Swedish biscotti!

Still, notice that there is no mention of hartshorn….

However, considering that as there is hartshorn called for in the BBB recipe, it must be old. Which means that the original recipes would not have called for commercial yeast.

Our Jane Mason starter is just too happy these days. I’m going to use it!

12 November 2021, 17:09 Ha! Look at me being early!

I mixed the dough this morning – making just half the recipe. Just in case this bread doesn’t pass the household’s rigorous tasting test. I did not divulge to the resident critic that I had altered the recipe to use our Jane Mason starter instead of commercial yeast.

I couldn’t believe how dry the dough was. So I added a splash of water. And some of the whey that had collected in the yoghurt container.

It rose nicely and looked beautiful. It is now shaped into four round balls and awaits being rolled out flat.

I still haven’t quite decided about how to deal with the fact that we don’t have one of those fancy rolling pins. Just now, as I was finishing with the pre-shaping, I suddenly thought of using the meat tenderizer! I know we have (or is it “had”??) a wooden meat tenderizer. But I cannot find it anywhere; I’ve looked through 4 different drawers in the kitchen.

I did find the wooden lemon squeezer though. Maybe that will work.

I also found the metal meat tenderizer. Perhaps I’ll use that. Although I do like the idea of using wood.

Oh yes. One more thing: I’ve pretty much nixed using the foot massager. I can’t be certain that it is completely sanitary. :lalala:

17:24 Or is it? I just cleaned the foot massager with a little dish soap and rinsed it off with vinegar. That should do the trick, shouldn’t it?

I’ll make sure to dock it as well, using one (or both) of our handy bread stamps from making last February’s Uighur Nan.

BBB November 2021

19:15 Wow!! They smell fantastic! Three of them were very obedient in going onto our stone (I could fit 3 onto our magic peel.) One of them was not so obedient and hung over the edge.

BBB November 2021

I used various things to roll them out. (When I was choosing them, I did vaguely consider the Korean cookie press, but then decided it would be too hard to figure out how to get it to work. Also, it has been hanging on the wall for so long that it would take eons to get all the dust off.)

The most successful method was using a regular rolling pin, followed by a meat tenderizer and docked with the bread stamp.

BBB November 2021

Only slightly less successful was the meat tenderizer and docked with a tiny diamond shaped cookie cutter (the little diamonds wanted to pop right out).

BBB November 2021

The least successful was the one rolled out with the foot massager. I docked it with the onion comb.

BBB November 2021

Because the foot massager (the center section really gets in the way) was a little too small for the size of the dough ball, the disc is thicker than the others and… oops… I almost burned it.

BBB November 2021
BBB November 2021

It’s just a little overdone. {cough} But maybe it will be excellent with tomorrow morning’s breakfast of butternut squash soup.

The wooden lemon squeezer worked pretty well also, and did create a nice looking pattern before I covered it up with the bread stamps pattern.

BBB November 2021

I still wish I had been able to use our wooden meat tenderizer (that I CANNOT find anywhere). It has (had??) larger diamond shaped nibs than the metal one.

Ha! It turns out that I’m not the first one to think of using the meat tenderizer for something other than meat!

[T]he meat mallet is no one-trick pony. […]
Just think of what else it can do:
• Crush garlic
• Crack or crush nuts
• Crush olives to remove pits
• Crush peppercorns (mmm cacio e pepe)
• Smash potatoes
• Smash ice for cocktails (wrap your ice in kitchen towels first!)
• Break down ginger and lemongrass
• Crack lobster or crab shells
• Pulverize crackers, candies, or cookies into crumbs
• Roughly “chop” chocolate
• Finally hang that photo on the wall?
It’s multipurpose. It’s versatile. It’s not sexy but it’s useful. And it’s not just for meat!
– Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit: Basically | A Meat Mallet Belongs in Your Kitchen, Even if You Never Eat Meat

14 November 2021, 17:33 As I was typing up this report, I realized that I completely forgot about using Mum’s shortbread stamp. Hmmmm. Maybe next time.

About fifteen minutes after the discs came out of the oven, the aroma was so intoxicating that we had to try a little corner of one.

BBB November 2021

Whoa!! Why did I think we weren’t going to like this bread?

It’s wonderful! We love that it is alternately crispy and chewy.

It was so wonderful that we each had another corner of bread – even though it might spoil our dinner that was about to be served in about fifteen minutes. Ha. We pretended that the little corners were appetizers.

As we were savouring those little corners, I felt strong enough to divulge that I had used our Jane Mason starter instead of commercial yeast.

Ha!! Take that Fleischmann family! We don’ need your stinkin’ yeast!

Then, the next morning, for breakfast, we halved one of the discs and warmed it up in the toaster to serve with buttersquash soup.

Oops. Using the toaster might not be the best idea!

BBB November 2021

There wasn’t as much soup as we had thought, so when we had our coffee, we warmed another disc in the toaster oven set to a very low temperature. Perfection!! The bread is lovely with jam – T’s marmalade for me, and black currant jam and butter for T.

BBB November 2021

Thank you, Kelly! This recipe is a keeper.

I might even be tempted to get a randkavel to make it. Even though the meat tenderizer clearly does the trick. Not to mention that, if we do get a randkavel, we won’t be encouraged to use our bread stamps….

Here is the November 2021 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Wild Hällakakor
based on half of the BBB November 2021 recipe

makes four cakes


  • 55 grams 100% whole wheat “no additives” flour
  • 55 grams water
  • spoonful (~16 grams) Jane Mason starter from the fridge

Actual Dough

  • 124 grams 100% whole wheat “no additives” flour
  • 31 grams dark rye (whole grain) flour
  • 5 grams wheat germ
  • 7 grams milk powder
  • 0 grams deer horn salt (baker’s ammonia)
  • pinch (~0.1 grams or 1/8 tsp.) baking soda
  • 66 grams milk (2% milk fat) + good splash whey from 3.5% milk fat yoghurt
  • 12 grams honey
  • all of the leavener, when it floats
  • 10 grams butter
  • 5 grams sea salt + little splash water
  • tiny person’s handful (0.25grams or 1/8 teaspoon) fennel seed, crushed
  1. Leavener Late in the evening on the day before you will be making Hällakakor, put a spoonful (about 16 grams) of culture from the fridge into a small bowl. Stir in 55 grams each of water and whole wheat flour. Cover with a plate and put into the cold oven (if the night temperatures are cool, turn the oven light on) to leave overnight.
  2. Actual Dough On the day you will be making Hällakakor, check to see if the leavener floats in a small bowl of cool water. If the leavener is domed but it doesn’t float, wait for 30 minutes or so and try again. If the leavener is bubbly but flat or concave on the surface, stir in about 5 grams each of whole wheat flour and water. Cover with a plate and leave it on the counter out of draughts. Check again again for floating about 20-30 minutes later. It will probably float. Proceed with making the actual dough.
  3. Using a bowl that is large enough for the dough to triple, whisk flours, wheat germ, milk powder, and baking soda. Pour in milk, honey, and all of the leavener (make sure it floats). Using a dough whisk or your hands, stir the contents together. Notice that it seems pretty dry, and that there still seems to be a lot of flour at the bottom of the bowl. Add a good splash whey (or water if there is no whey to be had). Stir just enough to mix it together. Cover with a plate and leave on counter (or the oven with only the light turned on) for about 30 minutes.
  4. Kneading and adding the salt, butter, and fennel seed: Whisk salt and 5 grams water into a small bowl and pour on top of the dough. Add the butter and crushed fennel seed. Wash your hands and leave one hand wet. With the back of your hand against the side of the bowl, reach down into the bowl to the bottom of the dough and pull it up to the fold it over the top. If the dough seems way too stiff, splash in a little more water. Turn the bowl with your other hand and repeat pulling and folding 4 or 5 times. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside on the counter for about 20 minutes.
  5. Repeat the previous step 2 or 3 times more. You’ll notice that the dough has nicely puffed up and is quite smooth to the touch.
  6. Proofing: Cover with a plate and leave on the counter. (Check the dough from time to time as the afternoon progresses into evening. Wet your hands and gently fold it whenever it has doubled.
  7. Pre-shaping: When the dough has almost doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Cut it evenly into 4 pieces and shape them into rounds. Cover with an overturned bowl.
  8. Shaping: Take one of the rounds out from under the overturned bowl. Roll it out into a round about a centimeter thick. As you roll the dough, keep lifting it up to make sure it hasn’t stuck to the board.

    • Stamp all over with a meat tenderizer. Then use a fork or bread stamp (as I did) to punch small holes all over.
      Roll out round dough circles to about 25cm or 9in with a notched or regular rolling pin. Dock well if using a flat rolling pin. If using a grooved pin, follow with the notched pin.
  9. Repeat with the other 3 rounds of dough.
  10. Cover shaped discs with a tea towel.
  11. Preheating the oven: As soon as the bread is shaped, put a bread stone on the middle shelf of the oven and turn it to 450F. Please note that the BBB recipe suggests putting the oven even higher:
    Preheat the oven to the highest possible temperature (~500ºF/260ºC)
    BBB November 2021 recipe

    We are reluctant to put our oven that high – we don’t want it to break….
  12. Baking: About 15 minutes (or so) after turning the oven on, it should have reached 450F. Make sure to wait until the oven is completely hot before proceeding. Place the discs directly on the baking stone and bake for about 5 minutes until they are “golden and soft”.
    Air bubbles and the brown border are the signal to pull it out. Thinner breads are more likely to have air pockets, and you don’t want to over bake, lest they lose their softness.
    – Kelly, in message to BBBabes

Serve immediately. If you are not planning to have the bread right away, allow it to cool completely on a footed rack. Store it in a plastic bag, then reheat it gently on a lowish setting in the toaster oven. (Toasting in the toaster will make the bread lose its softness.)


:: Measuring units: Measuring ingredients by weight is way easier than by volume (or by guessing) – less clean up and less frantic rummaging through drawers and cupboards in search of cups and spoons. If you do not have a scale, please look at this excellent online resource from Gourmet Sleuth: Cooking Conversions Calculator
There are so many variables present every time you begin a recipe: the heat of the kitchen, the ingredients, the calibration of your oven, to name just a few. Weighing rather than measuring by volume is a simple way of eliminating one big variable. […] When you measure by volume, the weight of an ingredient can differ each time. Once you get a scale, you can see for yourself how wide a range of weights a cup of flour can be, depending on how it is spooned or scooped or packed; it can vary in volume by as much as 50 percent depending on who’s doing the measuring, how the flour was stored and measured, and the humidity. […] Another example is salt — different salts are not equal in weight when measured by volume. A tablespoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (used in these recipes), for example, weighs only 60 percent of what a tablespoon of Morton kosher salt weighs.
– Susie Heller and Amy Vogler, ‘Throw Out Your Measuring Cups’, Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

:: Salt: As seen from above, there’s a very good reason to weigh the salt, rather than use volume measures. For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?

:: Wheat germ: Even though the recipe calls for wholegrain flours, I added a tiny amount of wheat germ, simply because I’m never positive that, after milling (that separates the different parts of the grain before grinding it into flour), the manufacturers are putting enough of it back into the flour they sell to us.

:: Honey and Baking Soda: The full BBB recipe calls “1 g (¼ tsp) deer horn salt (baker’s ammonia), dissolved in water (you can use baking powder instead)“. I chose to omit this ingredient entirely. However, apparently honey can affect the action of yeast:
Add ½ teaspoon baking soda for every 1 cup of honey used. (For the chemistry-inclined, this reduces the acidity of the honey, which averages 3.9 on the pH scale.)
– Zeke Freeman, Bee Raw | Baking with Honey: Substitute Honey for Sugar with 7 Simple Rules

Going to Gourmet Sleuth told me that 25 grams of honey is about 1.7 teaspoons, and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda is 1.2grams. There are 48 teaspoons in a cup. So that means that with 12 grams of honey, I needed to add [click click click click] 0.1 grams baking soda to reduce the acidity.

:: starter (aka culture): The BBB recipe calls for “6 g yeast“. I just didn’t want to insult the perfectly good wild starter by ignoring it. Our starter is a 100% hydration, liquid levain. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.) Of course, if you don’t have a wild starter going, you can always refer to the actual BBB recipe, or alter the above recipe to use commercial yeast. Please see the following for how: converting recipe for wild yeast to one with domestic yeast (and vice versa)

:: leavener and the float test: I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. In the summer, our leavener can be quite active. We find that with the extra warmth in the kitchen, dough made with it tends to rise very quickly. Therefore, we feed it late at night and again in the morning.

Many people state categorically that the float test is unreliable, useless, and/or “bogus”. I have been tricked when merely looking at our starter – it appears to have doubled and be quite aerated. But it does NOT float. I feed it with a small amount of flour and check it about an hour or so later. The starter then has a slightly domed shape and DOES pass the float test, indicating that it is now at its peak.

Here are three reasons that I am a diehard float tester:
[It] might be the case that your starter is rising, but you’re not there to see it. If you feed at night, it might be rising up while you’re asleep, and by morning it has fallen again, so it looks the same.
– Donna Currie, Serious Eats
| Sourdough Starter Frequently Asked Questions

The best time to mix your starter into your dough is when it’s achieved its maximum rise and is just starting to fall, because that’s when the yeast activity is going to be at its maximum.
– the Regular Chef, YouTube: 5 Ways To Get A Better Oven Spring | Sourdough Bread Tips
The most reliable indication that your leaven is ready is if it floats in water, a result of the carbon dioxide gas produced by wild yeast activity. To test the readiness of your leaven, drop a spoonful of it into a bowl of moderate room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready to use and needs more time to ferment and ripen. You can expedite the fermentation by putting the leaven in a warm place and checking again after half an hour. Or you can [feed] the leaven […] [to give] it fresh resources to ferment and ripen. Let the new mixture ferment until it passes the float test.
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p45-47

I remain in complete awe of all the intuitive sourdough bakers out there who are producing brilliant bread after brilliant bread without doing the float test. But for me, it is an important step to ensure that our bread rises rather than becoming a doorstop destined for immediately becoming bread crumbs. Or worse, compost.

:: Spices: The BBB recipe says “crushed caraway, aniseed or fennel may be added“. Kelly added about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed caraway seeds when she made the full recipe. I didn’t want to overwhelm the bread with the fennel seed I chose, and added just 1/8 teaspoon of crushed fennel seed. We did not really detect the fennel at all. Next time, I’ll double the amount. A generous doubling….

:: Rolling pin(s): While having a randkavel would be great, a regular rolling pin followed by gentle pounding with a meat tenderizer works really well

BBB November 2021

:: Baking Temperature and Time: The BBB recipe suggests that it takes 3 to 4 minutes to bake the hällakakor at 500F. Because we set the oven to 450F, it took a little longer. However, depending on the oven, the time will vary.
Most domestic ovens, whether gas, electric, fan assisted or solid fuel, will bake bread quite adequately. But, not surprisingly, some are better than others. […] [T]he temperature in the oven may have to fall by as much as 30°C before the thermostat calls for renewed heat, so the item being baked is subjected to a constantly oscillating temperature. […] The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precipe temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven. […] [I]f you understand roughly what heat a loaf requires (e.g. pretty hot for a big, wet, rye sourdough, moderate for an enriched sweet bread), you won’t go far wrong
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control


It turns out that there is a similar “slabcake” made in the Southern part of Sweden, west of Stockholm. Instead of whole wheat flour, they use white flour:

Hönökaka [from Hönö, Sweden in the province of Västergötland] is a classic Swedish flatbread with a light, almost cake-like texture. It’s made with a combination of milk, butter, white flour, rye flour, sea salt, yeast, ljus sirap (light syrup), and hjorthornssalt. The final ingredient gives the flatbread its fluffy and light texture – hjorthornssalt was originally made from deer antlers, but nowadays ammonium carbonate is used instead.
Taste Atlas | Hönökaka (cake from Hönö, Sweden)

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep BakingHällakakor

Kelly is hosting November 2021’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

Norrländska Hällakakor is a traditional flatbread from Sweden. And while the typical Knäckebröd is a crispbread, Hällakakor is more like a soft, flat, thin cake. It is often consumed generously spread with nice, salty butter and most definitely while still warm. Cheese is another common topping.
– Kelly, in message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Hällakakor too! To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the Hällakakor in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 November 2021. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ November 2021 Hällakakor:


BBB November 2021

It’s interesting that the Google translation for “Hällakaka” doesn’t become “pavé” or “cobblestone shaped bread”. But, of course, why am I really all that surprised?

The practical utility of Google Translate and similar technologies is undeniable, and probably a good thing overall, but there is still something deeply lacking in the approach, which is conveyed by a single word: understanding. Machine translation has never focused on understanding language. Instead, the field has always tried to “decode”—to get away with not worrying about what understanding and meaning are. […]
    It’s hard for a human, with a lifetime of experience and understanding and of using words in a meaningful way, to realize how devoid of content all the words thrown onto the screen by Google Translate are. It’s almost irresistible for people to presume that a piece of software that deals so fluently with words must surely know what they mean. […] But that isn’t the case. Google Translate is all about bypassing or circumventing the act of understanding language.
– Douglas Hofstadter, The Atlantic | The Shallowness of Google Translate, 30 January 2018

edit 18 November 2021: Now, Google is saying that hällakakor are “heel cakes”!! But it still wants hälla to be “pour” instead of “slab” and the other translations for hälla that Google offers are “run” and “strap”. For häll, Google’s suggestions are now “plate”, “flat”, “disc”, “slab”.
It’s my understanding that the bread is supposed to be more like the French pain pavé (cobblestone bread). Hmmm. Maybe I should tell Google to try “cobblestone cakes” for Hällakakor….

This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes, wild yeast (sourdough) on by .

* Thank you for visiting. Even though I may not get a chance to reply to you directly, I love seeing your responses and/or questions and read each and every one of them. Please note that your e-mail address will never be displayed on this site, nor will it ever be shared.

"Moderation" is in use. It may take a little time before your response appears. Responses containing unsolicited advertising will be deleted as spam (which means any subsequent attempts will be automatically relegated to the spam section and unlikely to be retrieved). For further information, please read the Discussion Policy.

8 responses to “Wildness from the North of Sweden (BBB November 2021)

  1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    OH ROFL!! TMI on the hartshorn history! No wonder you skipped it. LOL. But WOW, you did amazing with the shaping and not getting a new rolling pin!

    edit 16 November 2021, 17:19: Ha!! I’m so glad you are laughing about the hartshorn, Kelly. I confess that my main reasons for omitting it were a.) the awful smell of ammonia, and b.) that most of the ancient recipes I found for it were for how to clean the silver. And, thank you. I must say that I’m rather proud of myself for having managed without a proper Swedish rolling pin for making hällakakor! – Elizabeth

  2. Tanna (MyKitchenInHalfCups)

    parsimoniousness – oh indeed, aunt or sister!
    LOVE the meat tenderizer! I’d say that does an absolutely perfect job here.
    Now I do believe I told you: you are going to really love these!

    edit 16 November 2021, 17:24: You did, Tanna. You did say we would love these. I really don’t know why I doubted you! – Elizabeth

  3. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Your flatbreads look lovely. What a great idea to use a meat tenderizer and the bread stamps. Now why didn’t I think of that!

    edit 17 November 2021, 10:11am: Thank you, Cathy! But you didn’t need to think of it. You have that very cool tagliatelle cutting roller! (I thought I had one of those, but it turns out that it is a very very very cheaply made multi ravioli cutter that came with our hand crank pasta maker. The ravioli cutter would have made mincemeat out of the discs – if the roller hadn’t completely fallen apart first.) – Elizabeth

  4. Karen (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    What a great way to use the stamp! I’ll definitely have to keep that in mind. Mine is languishing!

    edit 17 November 2021, 10:16am: You must, Karen. You must. Our beautiful bread stamps must stop languishing. (What a great word choice there!) – Elizabeth

  5. barbara

    Another exciting saga! Cool to try all those faux-randkavel experiments.

    edit 17 November 2021, 10:19am: Thank you, Barbara! It really was exciting. But the most exciting thing was learning how very delicious the bread is. – Elizabeth

  6. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    Finally, a reasonable use for that metal hammer with the points! All your pretty toys and it’s the metal meat tenderizer that does the trick.
    I’m jealous of all the pretties….

    edit 18 November 2021, 14:06: I know!! I think we may have used the metal hammer once in all the time we’ve had it, Katie. (When I say “we”, of course I mean “he”.) And my guess is that the wooden mallet may have ended up on the front lawn as a donation to the neighbourhood. As I recall, a wooden meat tenderizer is completely useless. – Elizabeth

  7. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    Love your experimentation to find the right way to dock the dough. Strange that my wooden meat mallet and yours both disappeared! Love the use of the bread design along with the other methods. Lovely flatbread!

    edit 18 November 2021, 14:08: Thank you, Elle! And that IS strange that both of our wooden meat mallets disappeared. Perhaps they heard about the dish that ran away with the spoon, and got ideas! – Elizabeth

  8. Aparna (My Diverse Kitchen)

    Your Hallakakor looks lovely. I always enjoy reading your in depth accounts/ research. Why didn’t I think of Ilva?
    I tried everything I had too, but nothing really worked. I don’t have a meat tenderizer, of course, but I can see how that worked well. My Chekich stamping was a last ditch effort thanks to Tanna’s suggestion.

    edit 18 November 2021, 14:14: Thank you, Aparna! That’s so kind of you.
    After contacting Ilva, I realized that I should have asked Görel as well! Duh….
    But clearly you didn’t need any special rollers. With your hallakakor, the Chekich stamping was perfect. The patterns on your bread were so beautiful.
    – Elizabeth


Post a Response

You must fill in the "response", "name", and "email" fields. Please rest assured that your email address will never be posted or shared. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your discussion data is processed. Please note that the optional fields that point to your website URL and website name may be removed without notice. For more information about what can (or cannot) be included, please read the Discussion Policy.