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Nordic

Tavastian Rye Rusks/Hämäläiset Ruiskorput (Finland)

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 4 hours
Hands-on Time: 20 minutes
Yield: Two dozen 1¼ oz./35 g rusks

Someone recently asked me if I had a good recipe for rye rusks and this one immediately came to mind. Rusks – that is, bread that’s purposely dried for long storage – are not common in the US: biscotti and zwieback perhaps come closest. In northern Europe especially, however, they’re far more common.

This recipe comes from the central Finnish region historically known as Tavastia (Hämä in Finnish), and was a bread traditionally baked and eaten at the talvennapa – a pagan feast that took place in mid-January to mark the end of the joulu (Christmas) observance and to welcome the sun, Pälvätär, back into the sky after the long, dark days of midwinter.
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Applesauce-Buttermilk Rye/Omenalimppuja (Finland)

Rye %: 50%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 3½ hours
Hands-on Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Two 1½ lb/725 g loaves

In terms of rye baking, it can be said that Finland is where East and West meet: The breads of eastern Finland are dense, dark and sour, much like the breads of their immediate neighbors, Russia and the Baltics. To the west, the breads have more in common with the sweet, fragrantly spiced mixed-grain breads of Sweden. Keep Reading

Hazelnut-Fig Loaf/Hasselpähkinä-Viikunalimppu (Finland)

Rye %: 36%
Stages: Scald, Final dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 4½-5 hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: Two 2¾ lb/785 g loaves

Thinking about my third and final holiday bread for 2016, I decided that I wanted something halfway between the savory Christmas Crispbread and sweet Bavarian Ketzapiren I’d already posted. This Hazelnut-Fig Loaf immediately came to mind. Like many Finnish Christmas loaves, this one is based on a mixed wheat-rye dough, sweetened with syrup and enhanced with the sweet-bitter notes of roasted barley malt. What sets this one apart is its use of chopped figs and hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and coarse rye meal. All of these combine to produce a coarse, complex mouth feel that plays beautifully against an equally complex flavor profile of understated sweetness, nuttiness, coffee and subtle sour. Keep Reading

Christmas Crispbread/Juligt Knäckebröd (Sweden)

Rye %: 57%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 3 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: Eight 4 oz./115 g breads

Just about all of the Christmas breads I’ve seen are sweet and typically feature spices, fruits and/or nuts in great profusion. This Christmas crispbread from Sweden, however, goes against the tide: it’s an austere bread whose characteristics lead me to view it as a relic of life in Sweden’s frigid north, where the living was hard and the only luxuries available were modest at best. Keep Reading

Finnish Rye/Ruislimppu

Ruis_slice

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Yeast
Start to Finish: 12-14 hours
Hands-on Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: Two 2¼ lb./1.0 kg loaves

Ruislimppu, which translates to “rye loaf,” is the traditional bread of eastern Finland, with a nutty-sour flavor profile that reflects the strong Russian influence on the region’s food culture. Unlike the sour ring ryes (hapanleipäa) of western Finland, which were baked only once or twice a year and stored over the winter on poles hung from the ceiling, the eastern Finns baked their rye bread regularly throughout the year. Keep Reading

Swedish Beer Limpa/Vortlimpa

VortSliced

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 2½-3 hours
Hands-on Time 30-35 minutes
Yield: Two 1¾lb. (800 g.) loaves

Western Scandinavians like their rye breads sweet and fragrant, and this one is a perfect example of a yeast-leavened Swedish 100% rye. Its hydrating liquid is beer – another feature of northern European breads – and it’s sweetened with raisins and light molasses and perfumed with anise, fennel and orange zest. Keep Reading