Browse Category

Recipes

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.
Keep Reading

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

The “Juicy One”/Das Saftige (Germany)

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Sour sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 13-15 hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 3-lb/1.35 kb loaf

Odd name for a bread, The “Juicy One,” especially since this close-crumbed, rustic north German bread is anything but “saftig,” German, for “juicy. But if you consider its broader meaning (which survives in the Yiddish word zoftig) of “ripe,” “luscious” and “mouth watering,” then the description is spot-on, for this bread has a rich, mouth-filling texture and subdued sweet spiciness that showcases rye in all its glory. Keep Reading

Auvergne Rye Loaf/Tourte de Seigle (France)

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Sour sponge, Yeasted sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 15-17 hours
Hands-on Time: 20-25 minutes
Yield: Two 1½ lb/700 g loaves.

Considering that Tourte de Seigle is one of France’s classic rye loaves, I felt that at some point it was a must-bake, and our plans for a New Year’s Eve gathering offered the perfect excuse. Most of the recipes I’ve seen for this traditional 100% rye bread from France’s Auvergne region are built exclusively on a sour rye sponge. This version, which comes from Christian Maurice, bread instructor at Paris’ Ferrandi Culinary Academy, uses both a sour sponge and a yeasted rye sponge, which moderates the acidity of the finished loaf and lets the sweet spiciness of the rye shine through. 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

Tegernsee Christmas Loaf/Tegernseer Ketzapiren

Rye %: 100%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Baking powder
Start to Finish: 1½-2 hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 2 lb./900 g loaf

Marking religious holidays and life events by enhancing everyday bread with rare delicacies goes back a long way in Europe. The tradition survives most clearly in the stollen of Germany, the panettones of Italy, Lithuania’s Kaledu Pyragas (Christmas Bread), the zelten of South Tyrol and in this richly fruited Ketzapiren, which comes from Tegernsee in the Bavarian Alps, not far from the Austrian border. 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

Rhode Island Brown Bread (USA)

ribrown_slice

Rye %: 41%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Baking soda
Start to Finish: 5½ hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: Two 2 lb./900 g loaves

For me, Thanksgiving is always a time for celebrating New England’s food traditions. There’s turkey, of course, which roamed the deciduous forests of the Northeast; pumpkin and corn, mainstays of the Native Americans’ diet; and West Indies molasses, which came to the colonies via Britain’s system of triangular trade.

The first Europeans brought rye, which they mixed with cornmeal to make Rye and Indian Bread; later, the addition of molasses and wheat flour transformed the coarse loaf into Boston Brown Bread, which has become the benchmark New England loaf, to the exclusion of all others.

So I was both surprised and pleased to find another New England heirloom rye-and-corn bread, Rhode Island Brown Bread, in the 1887 edition of The White House Cookbook by F. L. Gillette and Hugo Ziemann. Keep Reading

“Little Breads” of Pustertal/Pusterer Breatl (Italy)

pust_slice

Rye %: 70%
Stages: Sponge, final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, yeast
Start to Finish: 17-20 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: One dozen 3½ ox/100 g rolls

Not too long ago, one of my friends, a transplanted Berliner, announced that he and his wife were going on vacation in the mountains of eastern Austria. The news came as music to my ears, because for a long time I’d been trying to get my hands on blue fenugreek leaves, a spice that’s virtually impossible to find in the US. Known as Trigonella caerulea (blue trefoil) to botanists, it’s a key ingredient in the breads of South Tyrol, where it’s variously called Blauklee (“blue clover”), Schabzigerklee (“shoddy clover”), Zigeunerkraut (“gypsy herb”) and Brotklee (“bread clover”). I asked if he’d be kind enough to pick some up for me. Keep Reading

Spiced Pumpkin Bread/Kürbisgewürzbrot (Germany)

kurbis_loaf

Rye %: 30%
Stages: Straight dough
Leaven: Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 4 – 4½hours
Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: One 2¼ lb./1.1 kg

Spiced Pumpkin Bread is a great example of how European bakers included a wide range of ingredients, such as oil seeds, nuts, cabbage, carrots, potatoes – even moss and the ground inner bark of pine trees – to augment and extend their flour in times of scarcity. Although the custom first developed during pre-Industrial times, when famine was a real and recurring challenge, it has persisted into these times of plenty, much to our good fortune. Keep Reading