June 08, 2013

Ruisleipäset - Small Rye Bread

To be honest, I get quite fed up with the bread selection at the supermarkets and most bakeries here in Australia. It's mostly sliced bread (toast) or white bread rolls and loafs that is on offer. There are wholemeal varieties available, but I am not too fond of the taste of commercial bread. It often has a distinctive flavour (raising agent, perhaps) and it doesn't have the proper bread texture I am used to. Any rye bread available tends to be the German type, which is often quite dense.

Hence, every now and again, I resort to baking my own rye bread. Fortunately most health food stores in Sydney carry rye flour and you may be able to buy fresh yeast from some smaller bakeries. I do prefer fresh yeast, but dry yeast works ok too.

The bread I made this time is very simple and reminds me of the rye bread I had in Finland. It is mostly rye, but has some wheat flour mixed in for a softer texture. Treacle (dark syrup) and salt are the only flavouring it needs. Served with a slice of cheese or melted butter, it was a much needed hearty breakfast on a slow Saturday morning.

Small Rye Bread
(Makes about 20)
(Recipe adapted from here)

500ml warm water (42C)
220g rye flour
10g dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon treacle (dark syrup)
165g rye flour (+50g)
130g plain wheat flour

1. Mix the yeast with flour, then stir with water. Leave, covered, for half an hour.

2. Add salt and treacle and add the flour, stirring continuously. Turn the dough to a floured surface and lightly knead to form a soft dough. You may need to incorporate an extra 50g flour here. Divide the dough into equal sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Transfer the portions to baking sheets lined with baking paper. Flatten each ball to a disk, about 2 cm thick, and prick with a fork. Cover the sheets with clean tea towels and leave to rise well. 

3. Preheat the oven to 200C. Sprinkle the bread with little water just before baking. Bake the breads for about 10 minutes or until the base has browned and sounds 'hollow' when tapped. Cool on a wire rack, covered with a tea towel, before serving.