Taste of the North
Whole wheat polar bread is a delicious and versatile flatbread with tradition
Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor
In honor of the Arctic issue, I am delighted to present a taste of the north with polar bread.
Polarbröd is a family-owned company in Sweden that produces hearty flatbread rounds—mjukt tunnbröd–in the regional tradition of northern Sweden. It’s pillowy soft with a slight chew, but can hold up to any topping. It can be a base for open-faced sandwiches, or a traditional sandwich. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks—and it is touted for its healthy ingredients. It’s easy to see how its popularity crossed the border to Norway.
The first time I saw Polarbröd was at IKEA, but it turns out that polarbrød is quite easy to make at home!
The internet offers a wide range of recipes for homemade polar bread, but my favorite is inspired by Norwegian food blog Trinesmatblogg.no. My version calls for 100% whole grain: rolled oats, whole wheat flour, and rye flour. It’s hearty with a nutty sweetness but still soft and pliable.
The rounds are made on a griddle or non-stick skillet, cooked for 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown. If baked in the oven, the polar bread rounds puff up, similar to a pita. These can be sliced open and stuffed with your toppings of choice.
From my recipe testing, here are some of serving suggestions:
Fresh from the griddle with a bit of butter and flaky salt
A slather of your favorite jam and a layer of brown cheese
Stuffed with tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, etc., for a packable lunch
Personal pizzas with tomato sauce and your favorite toppings, baked at 400°F for 5-8 minutes (my preschool-aged taste testers heartily approve this!)
The recipe makes 20 rounds or so. The recipe can be halved, but I recommend making the whole thing. The extras freeze beautifully!
Share your favorite topping ideas with me! I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Polarbrød (Polar Bread)
By Christy Olsen Field
Adapted from Trinesmatblogg.no
1 ½ cups rolled oats
4 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
2 envelopes active dry yeast (4½ tsp)
1 tbsp. honey or sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 ½ cups milk
¾ cup water
Using a food processor, pulse the rolled oats until they are finely chopped.
In a small saucepan, combine milk, water, and honey, and heat gently over low heat to 115° F. Add to the mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over it and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Add in oats, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and salt, and stir to combine. Use the dough hook attachment to knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth, and will bounce back if you poke it with a finger. (This is a sticky dough, so I recommend the stand mixer instead of kneading by hand.) Lightly oil a large bowl, and place in the dough. Cover and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for an hour.
After one hour, punch down the dough. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Shape half of the dough into a thick log, and slice into 10 pieces. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Roll each piece into a ball, and set aside on a plate or baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 10-15 minutes.
If using the oven, preheat to 400° F.
Lightly dust your work area with flour, and roll out each piece to 4-5 inches wide. Using a fork or chopstick, poke each piece several times.
If using a griddle or skillet, heat it to medium heat with no oil or butter. Cook each piece 3-4 minutes per side until lightly golden brown on both sides. Set aside on a plate as you cook the remaining rounds.
If using an oven, place the rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown and puffed.
Polarbrød tastes best on the day it’s made, but the rounds can easily be frozen.
This article originally appeared in the March 6, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.