Reikäleipä – chewy Finnish sourdough bread.
I’m trying to get a couple of my favorite recipes out of the way while I have a break from coursework, and this stuff is literally impossible to find in the UK unless you happen to live near the Finnish Church in London and its amazing little food shop. This is a recipe I have made myself quite a few times now, well actually its a combination of several recipes from various Internet sources combined with my mums memory. I also have recipes for some other Finnish breads. Its very dense, very chewy bread that tastes very good with a little cheese or toasted with melted butter, but expect a lot of mastication when you bite into it. My recipe is especially dense as I avoid using any packet yeast, you could use it if you like, no ones judging, and it will make a lighter loaf with lots of bubbles, but I want this bread to be a little hard and chewy. In its original form it would be made only using rye flour, in huge batches, and then hung from the rafters in your little farmstead, going rock solid and keeping for very long periods of time!
Ingredients: Makes two small loaves (like the one above that I made a few months ago) Sourdough starter:
- 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup rye flour
- Mix the two.
- Let stand uncovered in a glass or bowl until it begins to bubble and has a sour smell (2 – 6 days).
The Bread itself:
- 1/2 cup sour bread starter
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 1/2 cups rye flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 1/2 cups sifted white flour
- In a bowl, mix the sourdough starter with 2 cups warm water then slowly add in 1 cup rye flour. Cover with a damp cloth and let stand 20-40 hours, the longer you leave it the sourer the taste.
- When it has been left standing long enough, add the salt and mix in the rest of the flour. Then add the white flour beating thoroughly. When a dough has been formed let stand 20 minutes then kneed on a floured surface till smooth.
- Place in a greased bowl and let rise several hours.
- Divide into two, roll into balls, then flatten into 1 ” thick circles. Make a circular hole in the center roughly 2 ” in diameter.
- Dust the top with flour, then prick all over the surface in a pattern of your choice (Decorative and helps it to bake evenly), I use a wooden skewer normally. Cover and let rise.
- Bake at Gas Mark 5 (190 C, 375 F) for 45 minutes until browned and hollow sounding when tapped against the table.
- If you think you will make this again at some point either keep a small jar of the starter in the fridge, replacing half of it every week or so with a 50 / 50 rye flour and water mix, or make a small ball at stage 4 and freeze this to give a boost to any starters you make in the future.