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)
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!