Halme Bakery’s Ring Rye/Ruisreikäleipä (Finland)

Rye %: 91%
Stages: Sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 17-21 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: Two 1¼ lb/575 gram loaves + two 2¾ oz/50g rolls

During the 2019 Rye Tour to Finland and Latvia, our guide in Helsinki, sourdough baker and author Eliisa Kuusela, arranged a visit – actually two (of which more in a bit) – to Leipomo Halme, a 120 year-old bakery in Espoo, about 30 minutes northwest of central Helsinki. Our first visit took place in the afternoon, so that we could watch them mix their sourdough sponge in a giant wooden tub, using a concrete mixer to blend the 171% hydration sponge. The final dough would be mixed in the same tub at 2:00am the following morning.

Our second visit began at 6:00am the following day. Bleary-eyed, we went down into the bowels of the bakery where dough dropped through the ceiling from the floor above directly into a divider that spat it out in uniform rectangles. There, shifts of young bakers shaped rye limppu (boules) and reikäleipä (hole breads), which went onto floured boards and into the proofer for an hour before continuing on into the oven. Following our tour, we repaired to the bakery’s ground-floor cafe for a proper breakfast of Halme rye breads, sweet rolls (pulla) and Finland’s ubiquitous — and delicious — cinnamon rolls (korvapuusti).

Third-generation owner Kai Halme was kind enough to share the formulas for his grandfather’s reikäleipä, which I baked at home using some of Maine Grains’ terrific whole rye flour.

The result was exceptional. The  hole bread’s chewy crust surrounded an open, tender crumb. The flavor was mild, showcasing the sweet nuttiness of the Maine rye, followed by a subdued, yet bright, sour finish. This is a bread that Finns eat with anything and everything, from smoked reindeer sausage to ham and cheese, from cured salmon and herring to butter and berry preserves. For me, this Finnish classic is sure to become one of my go-to breads.

Sponge (Day 1, Evening):

Ingredient Grams Ounces Baker’s
Whole rye flour 275 9.70 100.00%
Water 471 16.60 171.40%
Rye starter culture 11 0.35 3.86%

In the mixer bowl, mix the sponge ingredients by hand, cover and ferment at room temperature (70°F/21°C) 14-18 hours. The sponge will be very loose and will have more than doubled in volume.

Final Dough (Day 2, Morning):

Ingredient Grams Ounces
Sponge 757 26.70
Whole rye flour 402 14.20
Bread flour 68 2.40
Water 252 8.90
Salt, 1 Tbs. 14 0.50
Instant yeast, ½ tsp. 1 0.05

Add the final dough ingredients to the sponge and use the dough hook at low (KA2) speed, scraping down the bowl as needed, to mix until the dough is fully blended and evenly hydrated, 7-8 minutes.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at 85°F/30°C until doubled in volume, 1-1½ hours.

Using a wet scraper, transfer the dough, which will be soft and very sticky, onto a well-floured work surface. Divide it into two pieces, each weighing approximately 26 oz./740 g.

With well-floured hands, shape each piece into a boule and roll each piece into a circle approximately 14 inches/36cm in diameter and ¾ inch/2 cm thick. Place on a well-floured proofing board or parchment-lined sheet pan and proof at 85°F/30°C until cracks show on the surface, 45-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 440°F/225°C with the baking surface in the middle and a steam pan on a lower shelf. Use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass to make a 3–inch/8 cm. hole in the center of each piece, then use a fork, chopstick or docking wheel to dock the surface of each loaf thoroughly and evenly to a depth of at least ¼”/0.6 cm.

Bake the breads with steam for 10 minutes, then remove the steam pan and continue baking until the loaves reach an internal temperature of at least 203°F/95°C, 30-35 minutes. Remove the breads from the oven and immediately brush with boiling water, if desired. Transfer to a rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

Baker’s Percentages:

Ingredient g %
TOTAL FLOUR 745 100.00%
Whole rye flour 677 90.87%
Bread flour 68 9.13%
Water 723 97.06%
Salt 14 1.88%
Rye sour 11 1.42%
Instant yeast 1 0.13%
TOTAL FORMULA 1,493 300.50%
Flour prefermented 275 36.88%


  • Steve Long

    November 7, 2019

    Super!! Thank you Stanley!!

  • LS

    November 8, 2019

    Delicious! I brought this to a pot luck dinner hosted by a Finnish-American woman. This bread worked well with smoked fish spreads, sliced meats, cheese and/or butter. Everyone enjoyed the bread. It had a delicious sour taste.

    On the last proof, I spread out the dough on the bottom pan of two cloches and the bell tops in the preheating oven. After the final proof, I docked the dough, put on the cloche tops and returned to oven, removing tops after the first 10 minutes.

  • Marian

    March 26, 2020

    Why does my bread get torched in the oven????? It gets burnt on the outside, but is cooked well on the inside and tastes great. Can you give me some advice???? About to put another batch in the oven now!

    • Stanley Ginsberg

      May 6, 2020

      create a heat map of your oven by taking oven thermometer readings at various spots in your oven. you may have hot spots and/or an inaccurate thermostat.

  • J. Kauppila

    October 24, 2020

    Hi Stanely,

    Where did you get the sour rye starter? If you made it, can you provide directions? Thanks for the recipe above.

  • Jared

    December 4, 2020

    I’ve made this three times now and love the end result. I have wondered though, that the dough is very much like a very thick paste before the final proof. Is this the expected consistency?

  • Benjy

    December 5, 2020

    I see you’ve used Maine Grains rye flour here. I’m curious as I’ve been using MG’s rye flour in a lot of your recipes, am I correct that it fits most closely to a “medium” rye as you describe the variations?

    • Stanley Ginsberg

      January 17, 2021

      Nope. It’s wholegrain, which, btw, is interchangeable with medium rye in most of the book’s dark rye recipes.

  • Benjy

    January 17, 2021

    Awesome thanks! Lately I’ve tried sifting the MG whole rye until the weight of 1cup corresponds with the weight you’ve listed for medium rye in the front of the book.

  • Barbara J Gough

    April 16, 2021

    Mr. Ginsberg,
    Do you have a Canadian distributor for your book?


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