Reikäleipää - learning to bake traditional Finnish rye bread

There was one thing I missed like crazy when I was living abroad - ruisleipä, rye bread. You get in in different shapes and sizes in Finnish shops, and often it's not exactly 100% rye bread. One of the most popular Finnish "rye bread" brands has wheat and potato flakes in it, and only 72% of the grains is rye. Don't get me wrong, I love fresh bread whatever the percentage, but I've now discovered how easy it is to make 100% rye bread that only has a few ingredients in it.

A few weeks ago, I attended a rye bread course, ruisleipäkurssi on a farm called Varpulan luomutila in Sipoo, about 30 min drive from the centre of Helsinki. The story of the farm is charming - apparently, the couple running it bought the house "by accident". It's the most idyllic and photogenic corner of the area, with some lovely, funny people living in it. It was dark when we got there so I didn't get a good photo of the beautiful, old, red house which was brought to Sipoo from the other side of Finland in smaller bits when the owners bought it in 2002. You can see some pictures and read about the renovation project on their website: http://www.varpula.fi/

Riitta, our instructor, made baking rye bread seem simple but like art at the same time. For some reason, I had always thought that rye bread required a secret recipe, special equipment or magic powers because whenever people talk about homemade rye bread, it's made out to be this unattainable luxury and a tradition that's dying out. Now that I know there's no magic trick, I'm wondering why I haven't tried it before!

Here are some photos of our evening with Riitta and 12 other enthusiastic bakers...

 Taikina oli vielä löysää tässä kohdassa. The dough was still runny at this point.

Taikina oli vielä löysää tässä kohdassa.
The dough was still runny at this point.

 

Opin uuden sanan, I learned a new word:
--> härkin
- the wooden tool that is used to knead the dough

 

vaivata (verb type 4) - to knead - preesens, the present tense
minä vaivaan
sinä vaivaat
hän vaivaa
me vaivaamme
te vaivaatte
he vaivaavat

imperfekti - the past simple
minä vaivasin
sinä vaivasit
hän vaivasi
me vaivaamme
te vaivaatte

 

 

taikina - dough

leipoa - to bake - preesens, the present tense
minä leivon - I bake
sinä leivot - you bake
hän leipoo - he/she bakes
me leivomme - we bake
te leivotte - you bake
he leipovat - they bake

leipoa - imperfekti - the past simple
minä leivoin
sinä leivoit
hän leipoi
me leivoimme
te leivoitte
he leipoivat

 
 Taikinaa täytyy vaivata puisella härkkimellä.

Taikinaa täytyy vaivata puisella härkkimellä.

 
 Riitta näyttää meille, kuinka taikinaa muotoillaan. Riitta shows us how the dough is shaped.

Riitta näyttää meille, kuinka taikinaa muotoillaan.
Riitta shows us how the dough is shaped.

 

Reiät tehtiin shottilaseilla.

reikä - a hole
reiät - the holes
tehtiin - were made
shottilasi - a shot glass
shottilaseilla - with shot glasses

 

This part was challenging because the dough was super sticky. Each of us spent about 5 minutes scrubbing the dough off our hands by the sink afterwards!

 

And this is what the bread looked like just before the oven...

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Reikäleipiä rivissä!

reikäleipä - rye bread with a hole in the middle
leipä - bread
rivi - row

 

The bread was in the oven for about 45 minutes. While we waited, Riitta served us coffee, organic strawberry juice and, of course, rye bread.

 Tämä tyyppi halusi vähän omaa rauhaa. This fella wanted some peace and quiet.

Tämä tyyppi halusi vähän omaa rauhaa.
This fella wanted some peace and quiet.

 

45 minuttia myöhemmin...
Reikäleivät olivat valmiita!

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