‘Saaristolaisleipä’ aka Scandinavian Rye and Malt Bread
I’m not much of a baker, but I’d like to be! I love baking sweet goods (especially out of chocolate), like cakes and tarts, but savory stuff is not really so familiar to me. The most difficult thing (imho) is to bake bread. I have baked bread rolls, with rather pathetic results. They were more like homicide weapons than something you’d want to eat and enjoy. The same happened with my cinnamon rolls, so now I have decided to take up the challenge and learn how to bake the best buns in the world (I gladly welcome any recipes too!). Baking bread, however, is still a mystery to me. That fluffy, soft, rich in texture consistency…
Some time ago a friend of mine was celebrating her last days as an unmarried woman, and I got a task to bake a bread for the brunch of her bachelorette party. As the bride was about to get married to a Finnish-Swedish man I decided to bake something in the Scandinavian spirit. We Finns love black bread, made of rye flour, and consider it to be the only bread you should kind of eat if you wanna eat healthy. The regular rye bread is relatively difficult to bake and requires at least some baking skills (and more time), which I didn’t have.
This following rye and malt bread doesn’t require much and I don’t think you can ruin it by doing something wrong either. The bread has its roots in the Finnish archipelago, and that’s where it has also gotten its name ‘Saaristolaisleipä’ meaning Islander Bread. The ready bread is dense, almost hard by its texture, and sweet and rich in flavor. If you’re unsure of the ingredients, click their names, they are all linked to some sources of more information.
Serve the bread with real, salted butter. Not margarine, not fat-free products. Butter.
Malt and Rye Bread from the Finnish Archipelago (makes 3 breads)
1 liter buttermilk
75g fresh yeast
300ml dark molasses
300ml grainy rye (beer) malts
300ml rye bran
300ml rye flour
1 liter all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
+ 50ml dark molasses and 150ml water, mixed
Warm up the buttermilk in a microwave-safe bowl to hand temperature. Melt the yeast in the water, helping with your hands. Once the yeast has dissolved, add the molasses and mix well.
Mix together rest of the ingredients and gradually add them into the yeast-water. Stir well all the time, until the dough is smooth. If you can use a mixer, even better. I didn’t have one at hand, so I just used a wooden spatula and some woman power. Let the dough rest under a kitchen towel in a room temperature for 1,5 hours.
Preheat the oven to 175 C.
Carefully grease your bread pans with butter. You don’t want the breads to stick in them so hard you have to eat them straight from the pans. I used beautiful paper “pans” that I found from a local department store. You can see the wonderful selection of all kinds of bread and cupcake moulds here, on the manufacturer’s website.
Distribute the dough evenly in the pans and bake the breads on the lowest rack of your oven for 1,5 hours. The breads do get a nice tan (read: become black), don’t worry about that! Take the breads out of the oven after 1,5 hours, generously brush them with the molasses & water mixture and place them back to bake for 15 minutes more.
Flip the ready breads on a surface and remove the pans (unless you’re using something that is suitable for serving). Let cool under a kitchen cloth.
This bread is at its best when you let it rest in a plastic bag for a couple of days before eating. It’s also suitable for freezer.