July 10, 2011

Finnish Sour Rye Bread


As with the Finnish apple tart I posted recently, I have no excuse for not posting a recipe for the classic Finnish sour rye bread prior to this. I always thought it was too difficult to make sour rye bread here in Australia, I wouldn't have the right type of rye flour to work with, the temperature wouldn't be right for the starter... wait, those are the excuses for not posting this recipe earlier.

When my partner and I visited Finland in December last year, my mum, granny and I baked two types of Finnish bread at granny's house. She is a 95 year old lady who is still so strong and independent, such an inspiration! During the bread baking day she was in charge of heating up her giant brick oven and baking the loaves. In the photos below you can see her cleaning the ashes with a traditional 'uuniluuta' (oven brush), and you can also see her giant timber dough bowl which is a good 100 years old, and has been used countless times.

Granny's bread has always been the most delicious bread I know and she has kept the whole family in supply of her bread for as long as I can remember. Bread baking is a family tradition, and I will definitely do my best to keep it alive.

There really is something immensely satisfying about baking bread with yeast and even more so when you make the bread with a starter. It's a long process, but there is just so much satisfaction when you finally get to take those loaves out of the oven and bite into a warm bread.  And although this recipe is not granny's, I think she'd be pretty happy with the outcome. It's a gorgeously dense bread, a real rye bread and I couldn't be happier to have a taste of Finland in my own kitchen!


Sour Rye Bread*
(makes 2-3 loaves)
(Recipe from 'Kotiruoka' book)

Starter

3-4 slices of wholegrain rye bread or 6-7 slices of Finn crisps**
1 litre warm (25C) water
1 litre (about 400g) wholegrain (dark) rye flour

* you need to start this recipe 2 days before baking. 

** 'hapankorppu' (sour rye crisp bread) is available all across Sydney (and my guess is, in Australia and worldwide) and is sold as "Finn Crisp". Look for bread that contains over 90% wholegrain rye.

Dough

25 g fresh yeast***
100ml warm water
2 teaspoons salt
approximately 1 1/2 litres (about 600g) wholegrain (dark) rye flour + extra for kneading

*** in Sydney, I buy fresh yeast from the Fourth Village providore in Mosman

1. To make the starter, pour the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Break in the Finn crisps (or bread slices) and mix in the rye flour. Stir well to combine. Cover the bowl and leave for 2 days or until the starter is clearly bubbling and smells fresh but 'sour'. For this to happen, stir the starter every now and then (a couple of times each day), and keep the bowl covered with tea towels in steady room temperature.

2. After two days, 'revitalise' the starter by adding a cupful of flour (from the whole amount of flour needed for the dough) and stirring it through. After that, leave the starter, covered, for a couple of more hours.

3. Dissolve the fresh yeast in 100 ml of warm water and add the mixture into the starter. Add in the salt, then knead the flour into the dough bit by bit until the dough starts to unstick your hand. 

4. At this point, take a piece of the dough to use as a starter for next time. Wrap the piece in plastic wrap and freeze it or store it in the fridge if you are using it again in the near future. Leave the rest of the dough to rise, covered, until doubled in size. This can take a good couple of hours or more, depending on the conditions.

5. Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 2-3 portions and knead into loaves. You can use loaf tins or make free-form loaves, both will work just as fine. Try not to use too much rye flour, however, as this can toughen the bread. Place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, rub a bit of rye flour on each loaf, and cover the tray with a tea towel. Leave the loaves to rise for a further 30-40 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 200C. 

7. Prick the loaves before baking. Bake the bread in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes or until the base of the bread sound 'hollow' when tapped with fingers. Leave the loaves to cool (covered with a tea towel) on a wire rack. This bread keeps well in room temperature, but if you want to freeze it, you should only do so the following day. Serve with good butter and enjoy! 

39 comments:

  1. Oh! What a treat. I loved seeing your Granny making bread. I adore bread like this. Thanks for the lovely post, recipe and pics :)
    Heidi xo

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  2. This bread looks so flavorful and wonderfully moist as well as smooth!

    Wow, 95 is a great age. I'd love to watch your granny cooking or baking! A beautiful oven.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I love the pictures of your grandmother and her wonderful oven.

    Glad your starter worked out for you. Lovely bread! :)

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  4. Using a starter is something I'd love to learn -thanks for the inspiration!

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  5. Oh, this bread looks so good! Thanks for sharing dear!

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  6. The bread looks fabulous and it's great to see your granny working with the oven. It's really encouraging to see someone like her living such a long and active life.

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  7. Now this I have to try! Go granny Go! ;)

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  8. One more bread recipe!!!
    Beautiful Post and great photos :)I only wish I am at least alive when I am 95! lol...

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  9. Your Granny with the cute socks is so adorable but that bread looks really delicious. Good for you for grabbing this traditional bread and keeping it going or "starting"...tee hee.

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  10. Your granny is amazing, you are lucky to have her. I would love to try this bread, it looks worth the effort

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  11. That oven is SUPER COOL! Is it common to have an oven like that? Your grandma is amazing! Maybe eating this kind of healthy finnish bread keeps her healthy. :-) Beautiful bread, Maria!

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  12. The colour of the bread is just beautiful!

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  13. Finnnish rye bread is one of the things I miss the most from Finland!

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  14. Ihana postaus hapanruisleivästä,jota rakastan,mutta joka ei ihan kauhean hyvin sovi vatsalleni. Mutta joskus siitä pitää voida kuitenkin nauttia;D

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  15. So lucky to have such wonderful memories of your grandmother :) One of my grandmothers lives in NZ and I haven't seen her in 15 years, and the other we don't talk to (family feud that's been going for more than 10 years), so I'm really jealous! This bread just seems so nourishing, it's lovely!

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  16. Your granny has a beautiful oven! No home oven can beat that... I am sure it makes wonderful bread.

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  17. Props to your granny, When I'm 95 I want to be independent and spunky like she is, truly an inspiration, RYE is one my favorite breads, something I Can't get easily in Japan, they mix it with white flour too much.. sort of ruins it, right? This looks amazing.

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  18. What an incredible oven! Thanks so much for sharing these treasured photos with us!

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  19. wow, what a beautiful bread! Grandma looks great! :)

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  20. Your granny looks unbelievably strong for 95! Wow so inspiring she is. What a gorgeous bread.

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  21. There's nothing like cooking with grandma; it's one of my favorite things to do! Lovely bread recipes, keep them coming- you are inspiring me to get into the kitchen and bake!

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  22. The bread looks nice. Very good photos!

    What would you traditionally put on it? Plain and simple - i.e. just butter, or jam?

    I'm rather partial to peanut butter and sliced banana on my bread :-)

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  23. Ooohhhh yum. This brings back so many wonderful memories from my exchange student days in Finland. It took me a little while to get used to the sourness of ruis leipä and hapankorpuja, but now I'd walk on glass for some. My isoäiti (I became an honorary family member now) lived in Ostrobothnia and had an oven exactly like your granny's - it doubled as a kind central heater in winter. She baked unbelievable bread, and on special occasions (like the Kaustinen music festival) she would make bread with smoked rye - truly the best bread I have ever eaten. There was also the squeeky cheese, pulla, sima, hot and cold smoked salmon and a crėme fraîche desert wih lakka/cloudberries. Isoiså (Grandpa) would take us out into the woods collecting wild raspberries, wild strawberries, blueberries, mushrooms and in winter we even fishes through a hole on the ice in the lake. Such wonderful memories you have triggered, thank you so much Maria! I am 'homesick'.

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  24. beautiful, beautiful post!

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  25. The photos of your granny baking are so sweet! :D And I must point Mr NQN's mum in the direction of this recipe. She truly swoons over Finnish rye bread!

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  26. How totally cool is that oven! I am so jealous. I am not sure if anything would taste bad coming out of a giant brick oven. It is like the ultimate way to cook! The bread looks and sounds amazing. I must give this recipe a try

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  27. women like your granny are such an inspiration! May she bake bread for many years to come! Love this tradition and this bread. Bet it is delicious with some butter and smoked salmon!

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  28. Love the smell of freshly baked sourdough. And of course, smothering it with loads of butter! Nothing beats cooking with family. :)

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  29. What an amazing grandmother - you've clearly been dipped in the deep end of the gene pool! and thanks for such lovely photo's.

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  30. Oh yes! You must keep the family tradition alive. This bread looks wonderful!

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  31. Your granny is adorable n still in great health! She sounds like a great cook ~ no wonder your are so talented :) Love that oven n the bread looks amazing!
    US Masala

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  32. Wow, what an oven -- wish I had one! :) The bread looks really delicious!

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  33. Oh to have an oven like that!
    I've been trying to tweak my rye breads lately to get a great loaf, (not quite there yet.) I love the dark colour of this one.

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  34. What lovely memories. Your grandmother is quite an inspiration - and her bread looks perfect.
    And what a gorgeous oven!

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  35. Loved reading your grandmother..what a truck load of memories! The bread looks perfectly baked.Thanks for sharing.

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  36. Granny definitely holds a stronghold for homemade bread using brick oven! WOW!

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  37. This is absolutely beautiful, Maria! Delicious rye bread and your grandmother looks simply adorable-Cheers for her :)

    Hugs,

    Aldy.

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  38. Gorgeous Maria! How good is homemade sourdough? And so exciting to watch (and taste) the starter get better and better over time. Your grandma is my new hero!
    C x

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  39. Your granny is 95???? Omg she looks awesome!

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