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Mar 24, 2007 04:48 PM

ISO: Scandinavian Bread Recipe

It's probably Norwegian and it was called Gristle bread. It was produced by Larsen's Bakery in Brooklyn as late as the 1960's and was purchased in a Staten Island deli called Tryon's. I was just a kid and knew nothing about bread, but it was sure good with the traditional Norwegian cheese Nokkelost. Now I do make my own bread and would like to surprise my 88 year old mother with a loaf or two, but it seems to be a lost recipe. I've spent a lot of time searching and have come up with nothing. The last time I found it in a store was in the early 80's in a deli at the Altamont Mall in Florida. My guess is it's made with a blend of bread, wheat, and possibly light rye flours. The name "gristle" has nothing to do with meat cartilage. If anyone knows what I'm talking about or knows some bread-expert who knows, I (and my mother) would greatly appreciate the info. Thanks, grampart

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  1. Hi Grampart, I am trying to find Norwegian Bread here in the Boston area. I am just starting my search. Many years ago about 1945 I was in a foster home in Natick Ma. and the one good thing I remember was the Norwegian Bread they made there. It was to die for. Have you found anyone yet that has the recipe yet? Better yet have you found anyone Baking it? Lets hope in our quest for this most desirable bread we find some one that has this secret. You can contact me by email : Thanks David

    1. Hi, Grampart,
      I do know what you're talking about, but I also can't find anything on gristle bread. I grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the 40's and 50's. We got gristle bread from Larsen's Bakery (I think it was a bread truck) and other places. It was so delicious - plain, but different; wonderful with a boiled egg. If I ever hear anything about it, I'll let you know. (I love Nikkolost, too.)
      In the Norwegian dictionary, gristle seems to mean "washed with an egg wash on top."


      1. It isn't in The Great Scandinavian Cookbook. Sorry.

        1. If you are searching for this bread, you might want to search for "grisle brod" or even "grissel braett" - there are some entries on google (in norwegian) for these.

          also, you might want to contact Leske's bakery in Brooklyn. As far as I know they are the last Norwegian baker in Bay Ridge - they may be able to help you.

          1. I am in search of this recipe also. The closest I got was a woman at a Norwegian parade said she would mail it to me and a few weeks later a post card came telling me it was too complicated. I wish I had taken her information also.

            4 Replies
            1. re: karenlittlewood

              I also grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and remember Gristle Bread. My extended family and I are always looking for it. Maybe the Sons of Norway can help us somehow.

              1. re: jcravi

                Found an article from the March 30, 1911 issue of the Ellensburgh Capital (Washington state) entitled “Gristle Bread” and subtitled “A favorite in Norway and in parts of Germany.” The article begins by asking what gristle bread is, then answers the question by explaining that it was popular in Norway and parts of Germany, and is made here [in the US] for Norwegian patrons who “still prefer it.”

                Here’s the remaining key info:

                “In making gristle bread, the loaves when first formed up from the dough are laid on boards, and put through an extra heated oven in which there is baked on them an outer crust or skin, the gristle. Then the loaves are turned over and put through the oven again, so that the gristle may be baked all over them. This quick oven makes only that outer crust on the loaves, which are then placed in another oven for their final complete baking.”

                “Originally in Norway gristle bread was made of rye flour only. In this country there was a demand for a handsomer and larger loaf, and wheat flour was mixed with the rye, as has now to some extent come to be the custom in Norway also. Here the proportions now used are about half and half…”


                1. re: jcravi

                  Continuing to search...have found a lovely short discussion of gristle bread and memories of Larsen's Bakery here:

                  Someone from Norway responded with this (in part):
                  Grisla ( grislet) bread is a more or less forgotten way of today's factory baking. But hopefully, the recepie will certainly still be found in many Norwegian homes, as the old housewives' secrets. The strange thing is that our local bakery in Nedre Eiker, Klaussen and son, has kept to this "old.fashioned" way of baking and is making a great succsess, being alone on the market with his "grisla kneip-brød" ( A bread made of wholemeal flour) According to my dictionary the grisling process consists of giving the bread a "top heating" and brushed with sugar water before the real baking process. At any rate, the result is a crisper and more tasty crust. Myself I am a daily "grisla kneip" user from Klaussen and son's bakery. ( As the process is time consuming the mentioned bakery has developed a modern way of grisling their breads and litterally selling like hot cakes.) I really hope there are better experts than myself on the web to give you a more detailed recepie. And I hope you will succeed in your efforts, as a warn, newly baked grisla bread is a gift from heaven.

                  A person who remembered Larsens' trucks making their way to the Poconos each summer said this: "Gristelbread was like a very big Rye bagel! The
                  secret, I'm told, was that after the loaf was made, it was boiled very briefly before putting it into the oven at a very high temperature - like 450f. The result was the incredible combination of crusty outer and wonderfully soft and chewey interior."

                  Am off to see if I can get closer to a recipe by looking for grisla bread and gristelbread Will come back and post if I find anything.

                  1. re: jcravi

                    OK. Here’s what I’ve found.

                    It is Grislet brød or Grisla-brød in Norwegian. Here’s a source for it in Norway: , along with a description of the bread. Google's less-than-fabulous English translation of the page here:

                    A discussion on it in Norskland forums:
           turns up this post: "Å grisle" is a special way to bake the bread and not a special bread, our local bakery here in Tønsberg makes "grislet kneip", "grislet loff" etc etc. "Å grisle" means to bake the bread twice, first you put the bread into a very hot owen to make a crust, then you take it out again and "paint" {pensle, I don't bother to look it up, Ruth will understand ] it with some concoction according to local custom, for instance syrup, egg or just plain water. This will make the crust even "crustier" when the bread goes into the owen again and the bread will taste better and keep longer. Off course, this is a more timecomsuming way of baking whic is why not everyne does it."

                    So sounds like there’s no single recipe that is the definitive “gristle bread,” unless you can find someone who was once associated with Larsen’s to provide it.
                    I'd try playing around with some basic Norwegian rye breads (maybe a limpa, or more likely something like this one: or this German loaf, and fiddle with the technique to try to approximate what you remember. Perhaps brushing with sugar water, spritzing the oven with water, flipping the loaf, etc.