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Sweet Finnish rye malt bread

Island-baked bread This dark and moist, sweet-and-sour bread is a speciality of Finland's southwestern archipelago region.

It is usually served on the side of some rustic fish dishes, soups, etc.

500 ml buttermilk
25 g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
150 ml dark molasses
100 ml fresh sugared lingonberries
100 ml lingonberry jam
150 ml powdered rye malt
150 ml wheat bran
200 ml rye flour
450 - 500 ml coarse wheat flour
for brushing:
½ tbsp dark molasses
½ tbsp water

Dissolve the yeast in the warm buttermilk, add salt, molasses and lingonberries (or jam) and mix until smooth. (Lingonberries can be omitted.) Add the powdered malt, bran and all of the flour and stir with a wooden fork until just mixed. Do not knead. The batter should be slightly runny.

Pour the batter in two buttered, deep rectangular 1 litre loaf pans (about 22 cm × 12 cm × 7 cm in size), cover with a damp towel and leave to rise for about 1½ hours or until about doubled in size (see the pictures below).

Bread dough Arrow Risen bread dough
Bread dough poured
in loaf pan
  Sufficiently risen dough

Bake the breads first at 175 °C for 30 minutes, brush the surface with molasses and water mixture, cover lightly with parchment paper, lower the temperature to 160 °C and bake for about 45 - 90 minutes, or until the breads feel firm when tapped on top.

Turn the loaves out on a wire rack to cool, loosely covered with a towel, for about 1 hour or until they are firm enough to slice. Serve plain with butter, cream cheese, garlic-flavoured cream cheese spread, etc.
Makes two loaves.

Serving suggestion:
Unlike other breads, the island-baked bread is even better eaten on the next day  —  when cooled, wrap the bread tightly in parchment paper and store in plastic bag.
Serve the bread with butter, on the side of good fish soup or cold-smoked or grilled salmon, gravlax, freshly salted powan, fried, marinated or pickled Baltic herring, chopped spring onion, a dollop of crème fraîche and cooked new potatoes with fresh dill.

Recipe source: adapted from "Saaristolaisleipä Nauvosta",, and "Saaristolaisleipä",, accessed 2001.


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