Sour Rye Loaf in a Tavastian Manner ‒ Hapan ruisleipä hämäläiseen tapaan

My very first rye bread is here! Oh my, is it delicious.

Here in Western Finland bread was baked only once or twice a year and then dried in the rafter of the house. That's the origin of those famous round breads with a hole in the middle. This kind of soft loaf or limppu was only eaten as a festive meal.

I've seen this same recipe in several forums (here, here and here for example) but none of the posters seem to mention any earlier source. Well, here it comes anyways.

The sponge (or raski):

- 300 - 500 g levain (about a fist sized glop)
- 1 l lukewarm water
- 0.6 kg rye flour

Mix the ingredients loosely. Let it leaven at least half a day. You know the bouillie is sour enough if it bubbles.

The dough:

- The sponge
- 2 tbsp salt dissolved in 0.5 l lukewarm water
- 1.2 - 1.4 kg rye flour

Mix the ingredients and knead the dough well. Cover with a towel and let it rise for at least half a day.

Save a piece of the dough for the next time you bake. If that's not going to be anytime soon, put it in the freezer so your small friends won't die. Form four loaves and put them on an oven shelf. (I only made two big ones. That wasn't too wise. They nearly climbed out from the shelf.) Let them rise a couple of hours under a towel and then stick holes in them with a fork. Bake first in 225°C for half an hour and then an hour in 175°C. Cover the warm loaves with a towel.

Unless you have a big crowd eating these you better freeze three of the four loaves to prevent them from hardening. A bred kept in a fridge quickly turns stale.

I find these already have a nice malty flavour, but next time I might try what happens if I add malts as well as some berries. Or a hint of dark syrup and caraway which by a rule of thumb always fit together with rye.

Nutritional values / one bread / 875 g:
energy 1525 kcal
fat 10 g
protein 48.5 g
carbohydrates 305 g
fiber 75 g


  1. I am an American married to a Finn. We live in the US and he so very much misses his ruisleipa. I have been searching for a "true" recipe but have so far only found those that include white flour and yeast (which I am trying now). If this current batch does not come out correctly, I will have to try yours. Your picture looks like the dark bread he likes. I will have to get a kitchen scale that measure grams (Americans recipes usually use volume not weight). Thank you for posting an alternative recipe. This bread is extremely hard to find in the US!

  2. Hope you two get lucky with your bread! I wouldn't put wheat in it but yeast might be useful if your levain doesn't work properly yet. I use grams cause the original recipe did and eventually, they're much easier with amounts this large since all the flour bags sold here tell how much they weight. But here's another recipe with amounts in both: http://tofufortwo.net/2009/06/08/finnish-rye-bread-2

  3. Anybody need sourdough finnish ryebread in london ?
    Check the London's own finnish bakery kotileipa.co.uk, they deliver it around london..


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