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The rustic, hearty, and unpronounceable breads of Finland.

The rustic, hearty, and unpronounceable breads of Finland

Hearty and rustic, with great character and flavor, Finnish breads deserve wider acquaintance.

This sampler by Seija Laurimaa, a Finnish visitor to the West Coast, introduces a variety of simple loaves, both thick and thin. Three of the breads are made with barley flour; one uses rye flour. Rye and barley grow better than wheat in Finland, and bakers there have long enjoyed these two sweeter-tasting grains.

The coarse rye bread develops a tang as pulverized rye crackers and rye flour ferment together overnight. The ring form was once quite functional: in western Finland, bread was baked only twice a year, and families strung hundreds of loaves on poles suspended from their rafters. You have the option of shaping the dough into individual loaves.

Simplest of the barley breads is the first; mild flavored and thin, it's made tender by baking powder. The loaves can be made and baked in half an hour. Eat in wedges, plain or with butter; or use for open-faced sandwiches or serve with soup.

The potato-barley loaf, another flatbread, is also quick to make; it's very like Norwegian potato lefse. Use it as you would the first barley bread.

The third barley bread is yeast-leavened; split it horizontally or cut into wedges. Serve with butter and jam, or with soups.

Look for rye and barley flours in health food stores, or in markets that carry an extensive line of grain products.

Sour Rye Bread (Hapanleipa)

To approximate the coarser texture of Finnish rye flour, use rye crackers, cracked rye, and rye flakes in addition to rye flour. Buy flat crackers imported from Scandinavia or the domestic kind suggested for dieters. Make small, round individual breads or larger rings.

7 thin, crisp rye crackers (imported from Finland or domestic), each about 1 1/2 by 4 3/4 inches

Water

About 11 cups rye flour

1 package active dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups each cracked rye and rye flakes

Break crackers into chunks and whirl in a blender or food processor until powdered. Pour into a large bowl; mix with 4 cups lukewarm water and 4 cups of the flour until moistened. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature until very bubbly, about 24 hours.

Let yeast soften in 1/4 cup warm water (110|) for 5 minutes. Stir into cracker mixture along with salt, cracked rye, rye flakes, and 6 more cups of rye flour. Turn dough out onto a board coated with rye flour and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes, adding flour as required to prevent sticking. Dough will be soft.

Shape dough into small or large rounds.

Small rounds. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. Pat each into a round about 1/3 inch thick and 4 inches wide. Lay rounds at least 1 inch apart on 2 greased 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Large rings. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Pat each into a round about 1/2 inch thick and 8 inches across. Using a floured 2-inch cutter, make a hole in the center of each round. Place rings and centers at least 1 inch apart on 2 greased 14- by 16-inch baking sheets.

Prick tops of loaves with a fork at 1- to 1 1/2-inch intervals, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 1 hour.

Bake in a 425| over until loaves are lightly browned on bottom (lift to check), about 25 minutes. If using a single oven, switch positions of pans halfway through baking.

Transfer loaves to a rack. Cover them with a towel for 10 minutes to soften as they cool. Serve warm or cool. Store cooled loaves airtight up to 3 days. Makes 16 small or 4 large round loaves.

Flat Barley Bread (Ohraleipa)

About 4 cups barley flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

In a bowl, stir 3 3/4 cups barley flour, baking powder, salt, and milk until well combined (step 1, page 202); dough will be sticky. Divide dough in half; place each half on a greased 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Dust hands with barley flour, then pat each dough portion into a round 1/4 inch thick and 11 inches wide (step 2). Lightly press the floured edge of a clean ruler into each round in two sets of parallel lines to form diamond-shaped impressions (step 3). Prick tops of rounds at 1- to 1 1/2-inch intervals with a fork.

Bake loaves one at a time on lowest rack of a 500| oven until lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve warm in wedges. Makes 2 flat loaves.

Potato Barley Bread (Perunarieska)

Mashed potatoes (directions follow)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

About 1 1/2 cups barley flour

In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, salt, and egg. Stir in 1 1/4 cups of the flour until well blended.

Divide dough in fourths and place portions on opposite corners of 2 greased 14- by 16-inch baking sheets. Dust hands with barley flour, then pat dough into rounds that are about 1/4 inch thick and 7 inches across.

Bake in a 500| oven until well browned, about 15 minutes. If in a single oven, switch pan positions halfway through baking. Cut loaves into quarters or halves and serve warm. Makes 4 flat loaves.

Mashed potatoes. Prepare instant mashed potatoes for 4 servings (or enough to make 2 1/4 cups) according to package directions, but do not add salt or butter. Stir in an additional 1/3 cup milk.

Leavened Barley Bread (Ohrahiivaleipa)

1 package active dry yeast

2 cups warm milk (110|)

1 teaspoon salt

About 3 1/4 cups barley flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix yeast with milk and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Stir in salt and 2 3/4 cups of the barley flour until smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until small bubbles form, about 1 hour.

Stir in all-purpose flour until well combined. Turn dough out onto a board coated with barley flour. Knead, adding more barley flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and only slightly tacky to touch, about 10 minutes.

Cut dough in half. Pat each half into a round 1/2 inch thick and 7 inches across. Place each on a greased 12- by 15-inch baking sheet; prick tops of loaves with a fork at 1- to 1 1/2-inch intervals. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.

Bake in a 450| oven until golden, 15 to 18 minutes; if using a single oven, switch pan positions halfway through baking. Serve warm or cool; let cool on racks. Store cooled loaves airtight up to 3 days. Cut into wedges to serve. Makes 2 loaves.

Photo: Sandwich-size rye loaf is handy for lunches. He likes it with pastrami, cheese, and lettuce

Photo: 1. Finnish baker uses hands to mix flat barley bread; spoon works well too

Photo: 2. With floured fingertips, pat dough into thin round on baking sheet

Photo: 3. Use ruler edge to form diamond-shaped design, then prick with fork

Photo: Assortment of Finnish breads includes, counterclockwise from rear, diamond-patterned barley flatbread, potato-barley bread, rye bread (small loaves and larger ring), wedges of flat barley bread, and leavened barley bread

Photo: Shape dough for small rye loaves into rounds about 1/3 inch thick
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1986
Words:1265
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