Around Finland, Bakery, Recipes
Comments 43

Kustavilainen Saaristolaisleipä – Dellllicious Finnish Archipelago Bread

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the birthday of one of my close friends here, Zeynep, together with many other friends and family. I made the sweets for this gathering, while Zeynep’s parents-in-law prepared the salty snacks. It was this event where I got to taste this incredibly delicious bread!! I fell in love with it immediately, and I asked David and Tiina for its name and recipe. And so here comes one of the most delicious bread recipes from Finnish cuisine!



It was that Saturday evening when I first met David and Tiina. They had prepared delicious and very Finnish looking salty dishes and they were already assembling them, heavily working in the kitchen. What they were preparing immediately got my attention of course, as my antennas open wide whenever I see authentic Finnish food. They were kind enough to explain what each dish was and they made me taste them before other guests did!




What they prepared all looked and tasted delicious, however, this bread stood out among all. As soon as I tasted it, there was a festival going on in my mouth! I already love various types of dark Finnish bread, but this one I think has been the best so far. As far as I understand, this bread is from Kustavi archipelago, in Southwest Finland. The most special thing about this bread is the richness of its taste. There are many ingredients in the bread which give this richness. And yet, those ingredients are also very harmonius and none of them crushes the others.



Apart from being rich with many ingredients, this bread is also rich with syrup, so it is quite sweet. Actually, I baked it in loaf pans that I normally use for cakes so it felt like baking cakes at some point! But make no mistake, it is definitely bread. One last thing I want to write about the bread is the texture. Because it also has many grainy ingredients, particularly the malt, it has a dense and grainy texture.




Today, I prepared 3 loaves of this bread for a catering gig in Aalto University tomorrow. And that’s one other beauty of this particular recipe: you will have 3 loaves of bread in one go. The catering is for Aalto University Creative Sustainability master program’s pikkujoulu (pre-Christmas) party. As I am one of the graduates of this program, I know it from first hand that it is full of international students. That’s why I specifically wanted to bake this bread for this occasion: I want as many people as possible other than Finns to get to know this bread!! Besides, I wonder how it would go with my spreads – I made baba ganoush (smoked eggplant spread), roasted garlic hummus and sun-dried tomato hummus. It will be interesting to see how this bread (which is most traditionally eaten with butter, mushrooms, or salmon) is going to taste like. Anyway, enjoy your new recipe!




Difficulty: ★★☆ (Medium) (only because it takes a bit long)
(makes 3 loaves in loaf pans sizes: 2 of 25x11x7cm (1.5 lt) and 1 of 26x10x7cm)


Printable  PDF-recipe (no photos)


a little canola oil (or another similar oil that does not have a strong taste) to grease the pans
1 lt buttermilk (In Finnish: piimä)
75 gr fresh yeast, crumbled
3 dl / 1 1/4 cups dark syrup
1 tbsp salt
3 dl / 1 1/4 cups wheat bran (in Finnish: vehnälese)
3 dl / 1 1/4 cups rye flour (in Finnish: ruisjauho)
3 dl / 1 1/4 cups malt (not powder, what I used is crushed rye malt – in Finnish: kaljamallas, see it here)
1 lt / 4 cups + 2 tbsp + 2 tsp wheat flour (or all-purpose flour) — next time I want to try with white spelt flour!


to brush the top with, optional*
1 tbsp dark syrup
1/2 dl / 3 tbsp + 1 tsp water in room temperature


*There wasn’t this brushing in the recipe I adapted from. But I saw it done in some other recipes on Youtube and I liked the idea. It gives a bit darker finish to the surface and also it makes the bread shine. So feel free to do it or not.




1. First, prepare the pans. You can use 3 loaf pans like mine or, if you have bigger loaf pans, you can just prepare 2 of them. Grease the pans and put a baking paper inside. Put the ready pans aside.





2. Pour buttermilk in a pan and make it lukewarm, which means warm to touch but not too warm, burning your hands.



3. Pour warmed buttermilk in a big mixing bowl. Add crumbled fresh yeast and dissolve the yeast by whisking.





4. Add syrup and mix well using a spatula, a wooden spoon or a whisk.




5. Add salt and wheat bran and mix well.





6. Add rye flour and crushed malt and mix well.





7. Add wheat flour and mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.





8. Divide the batter into 3 pans. In my case, each pan had about 800 gr. batter. Cover the pans, loosely, with a stretch film or with a kitchen towel. Leave them in a warm corner of your kitchen to double in size. It should take about 1 hour to rise that much (but no worries if it takes longer for you because it depends very much on the environment).




9. While the batter is rising, preheat the oven to 180C.


10. When the batter in each pan doubles in size and your oven is warm enough, it’s time to bake. My oven is medium size so I baked two of them first and the third one after. While waiting for the first two to bake, I put the third pan in the fridge, covered with stretch film. In the oven, I put the pans in medium rack. I baked for 1 hour at first, then I brushed with syrup, check next step (if you are not going to brush the top with syrup and water, then just bake the bread for 1 hour 20/30 minutes in total, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean).



11. While the bread is baking, mix syrup and water. After 1 hour passes in the oven, take your bread out of the oven, quickly brush the top generously with syrup/water mixture. Put the bread back in the oven, again in medium rack, and bake for 20/30 minutes more (until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean).





12. When the bread is ready, take out of the oven and leave in the pans for 10 minutes to cool. After that, take them out of the pans and let them cool a little more before slicing and trying your first bite with butter (if you can wait that long of course!!!). Enjoy!




  1. my family is coming to visit me in helsinki, and i was looking for a good finnish bread recipe to welcome them – this looks perfect! thanks so much!

  2. mintwood36 says

    my family is coming to visit helsinki, and i was looking for a good finnish bread recipe to welcome them – this looks perfect! thanks so much. : )

  3. Anne-Marie says

    I’ve been trying your breads, Fjellbord is now a favorite. What is “dark syrup”? Is this molasses? Or corn syrup?

    • The dark syrup (tumma siirappi in Finnish) is an aromatic, caramelized cane sugar. You can use molasses (for example grape molasses, or any other molasses) if you can’t find that kind of syrup. Hope this info helps! And i’m very happy to hear that you’ve been trying my bread recipes!!

      • Yes i think the same. I saw that some people outside Finland even used molasses when they wanted to bake this bread but couldn’t easily find syrup.

      • That’s what we use as a substitute in some Finnish recipes here in Australia :) But I have never tried to bake this bread… Unfortunately I don’t think it would be so easy to find all those rye products here!

  4. Kaisa Suominen says

    Actually, tumma siirappi in Finland is made of sugar beet (like Finnish sugar), not cane. Both certainly work :-) I bake this with apple juice instead of buttermilk, to make it lactose-free.

    • Oh thank you! That’s a very good information — about tumma siirappi!! Did you ever try with molasses? I saw some people did, i’m wondering how it tastes with molasses.

      • Kaisa Suominen says

        Actually no, should perhaps try once. I’ve never paid attention in the shop, is it sold here? Perhaps I’m just stuck to using what my mother and grand-mothers always used for baking… :-D

      • It’s sold in some specialized or ethnic shops here. The examples i saw were people living outside Finland where I guess it was easier to find molasses. 😯

      • Chris says

        Moi Asli,

        I have made saaristolaisleipä (usually a Recipe from Nauvo I found online) a number of times here in California. I always use molasses since sirappi is not sold here. I would have to pay a lot of euros to get it from Suomi so the molasses works just fine. It makes a slightly sweet bread. I use rye flakes instead of vehnälese and rye malt that comes from a beer brewing supplier. There is an excellent source of dark rye flour from an American company called Bob’s Red Mill. All of this is close enough to the saaristolaisleivät I’ve had in Finland that if I squint I can sort of consider it authentic. Or to borrow the Swedish expression, it is lagom.

  5. Kaisa Suominen says

    Probably. When we lived in France, there were a few things my mother always brought with us in the autumn: siirappi, lanttu (for lanttulaatikko, the French rutabaga is way too mild in taste) and one kg of sugar (Finnish sugar has a stronger taste than French, which can be tasted in some cookies). BTW, I also use partly rye flour in this bread. This is also one of my favourite breads :-)

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  7. Laurie G says

    By wheat flour, you don’t mean whole wheat flour, do you?
    (I was in Finland recently, and fell in love with this bread. I brought 2 loaves home, stuck them in the freezer, and have been slowly rationing them out ever since. Would love to duplicate-your recipe sounds wonderful!)

  8. I am thrilled to find your blog! My Finnish neighbor made this for me once, and I have been obsessed to recreate it ever since. I have tried in vain to find someone that ships the kaljamallas to the USA. I HAVE found a company that ships it in Canada. Feeling a bit Sherlock Holmes. . .
    Thanks SO MUCH for the recipe and post!

    • Oh that’s so nice to hear! And i’m happy to hear that you could find kaljamallas afterall, it’s really the hardest ingredient to find outside Finland! Enjoy your bread!

  9. Gilmar says

    Oi, sou Brasileiro conheci este pão em um programa da Netflix “Restaurants on the Edge” episódio Finlândia. Parece ser muito gostoso

  10. Anonymous says

    Some recipes add orange juice. Any suggestions on adding in here

    • Hmm I never tasted it with orange juice. You could certainly try and say how it was – i’d be happy to hear your comment!

  11. Bob says

    for the dark syrup do you think I use brewer’s malted rye syrup

  12. Hyunseok Choi says

    Thank you for the awesome recipe!

    I wonder if I can use Rye sourdough starter as a substitute of the fresh yeast.

      • Hyunseok Choi says

        It was successful!
        I used two different starters I have.
        And here are some differences I found.
        1. Hiivaleipäjauhe starter (150g used while other ingredients were used half from your recipe)
        2. Rye flour starter (150g used while other ingredients were used half from your recipe)

        1 was thicker than 2. I guess they were according to the characteristics of the starters that 1 is more dense and 2 is more airy.
        No taste or aroma difference (Please note that I do not have strong senses of smell and taste).

      • Perfect! I must have my own starter again! (I killed mine a long time ago and never got around to do it again..)

  13. Rita says

    My sister and I learned of this bread from the Netflix series Restaurants on the Edge. We knew we had to make it and luckily came upon your accessible recipe.
    We live on the East Coast in the United States and don’t have access to dark syrup but made a substitute of half honey and half unsulfured molasses.
    In our markets, malted rye is not stocked but found it at Fermented Supply in Hammonton, NJ. What a great resource for Hobbyists of fermentation and baking with yeast. Eric the owner was so helpful and I would recommend this shop.

    Asli, the end result is your recipe is complex in flavor and easy to make, This Finnish bread is off the charts delicious and we will make it again. I agree the brushing of the top is a must.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m happy to hear that! And i’m happy to learn that you could find those hard to find ingredients! Your substitutes sound delicious as well. Bon appetit and greetings from Helsinki!

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