Schüttelbrot is a specialty bread common to southern Tyrol and made from rye flour, yeast, fennel, caraway and fenugreek, salt, and water. It is a flat bread and very crispy, cracker-like. It was popular in the Alps where baking was done only a few times a year and the dry bread could be kept for months. It is a great bread to take hiking and compliments dried ham and cheese. It is broken into pieces to eat.
It is called "Schüttelbrot" (shaken bread) because of its baking properties. Rye dough is very sticky and this dough has a high hydration (100%). Pieces of dough are placed on a floured, wooden board and shaken into a flat, round loaf or cracker, which look a lot like pizza crusts.
This recipe can be made in a few hours at home and does not require a sourdough starter. This style is very flat; there are other types of "Schüttelbrot" which are about 2 inches high and softer, not crispy.
- Mix 1/2 cup water with the yeast to dissolve. Add 1 cup rye flour. Mix until a thick batter is formed. Note: Light and medium rye flour make the best result. If you can only find whole grain rye flour, try sifting out the bran with a fine sieve. You can also use whole grain rye, but the crumb may be denser than in the picture.
- Cover the batter to keep it from drying out and leave it for thirty minutes at room temperature.
- Mix the sponge (the batter) with the rest of the ingredients and beat for 2-3 minutes. This dough is too soft to knead.
- Cover dough and let rise until doubled in bulk and bubbly, at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). If you have a bread stone in the oven, it is good to bake directly on the stone; otherwise, you will bake the loaves on a cookie sheet.
- Take 5 ounce portions and place them on a well-floured work bench. This is sticky and messy. Coat them with flour and let them rest while the oven is heating.
- Transfer pieces to a wooden cutting board or baking sheet also sprinkled with flour. You may choose to line it with parchment paper but flour it, too.
- Shake the board in a circular fashion to make the dough relax and go flat. Alternatively, form the dough like you would a pizza crust, pushing and flattening it into a round shape.
- Let it rest 10 minutes.
- To transfer to hot stone in the oven. I used a floured baker's peel but you can place the baking sheet straight in the oven as well.
- Bake the loaves (dough circles) for 13-25 minutes, depending on size.
- Cool and keep in a dry place. Do not wrap in plastic. To crisp it up if it becomes soft, place in a hot oven for several minutes before serving.
This bread is traditionally eaten for "Marende" (snack or light meal) or during "Törggelen," a type of wine festival.