This is my bread of choice for the most god-awful stinky cheeses I can get my hands on. It’s probably not a traditional use for it but it works for me. This rough and crispy flatbread is perfect for slathering with the funkiest of room temperature washed rind cheeses. I haven’t tried the stinkiest cheese as determined by a computerized electronic nose, but I’m sure it will also pair well with this 100% rye bread.
So what’s the deal with the shape? Supposedly breads are baked in the western regions of Finland only a couple of times a year. Hundreds of these breads would be baked at the same time and hung on poles right under the ceilings. The acidity from the use of a wild yeast starter and its inherent dryness help preserve the breads until the next oven firing.
I painstakingly recreated such poles as I imagined it in the ceiling of a Finnish kitchen. Not included in the photo are four tomato cans used as rests for the wooden dowel.
Finnish Sour Rye Bread
makes two 12-inch wheels
- There’s enough sourness with the formula as specified below. For a more sour hapanleipä, omit the instant yeast and increase the bulk fermentation time to 2-3 hours.
For the Soaker:
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams medium or dark rye flour 1 3/4 cups 8 227 salt 1/2 tsp water 3/4 cup 6 170
Mix the soaker ingredients until evenly hydrated. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
For the Rye Starter:
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams rye starter (75% hydration) 2.5 71 medium or dark rye flour 1 2/3 cups 7.5 213 water, at room temperature 3/4 cup 6 170
Mix the rye starter ingredients until evenly hydrated. Knead the starter with wet hands for about 2 minutes. It will be very sticky.
Place the rye starter in a bowl and cover. Let rise at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours or until doubled in size.
Remove the rye starter from the bowl and knead lightly to degas. Return to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. Let the rye starter sit at room temperature for 2 hours before using in the final dough.
Final Dough Formula:
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams all of the soaker, chopped into small pieces all of the rye starter, chopped into small pieces medium or dark rye flour 7/8 cup 4 113 salt 5/8 tsp instant yeast 2 1/4 tsp
Final Dough Instructions:
Mix Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated Knead 3 to 4 minutes Rest 5 minutes Knead 1 minute Bulk Ferment 45 minutes in a lightly oiled bowl, or until 1 1/2 times its original size Divide 2 pieces Shape rolled 1/4 thick with a cut out center and docked, as pictured (approximately 12 inches wide)
shaped hapanleipä with 2 bonus crackers
Final Proof approximately 45 minutes at room temperature on 2 sheet pans, covered Preheat Oven 425ºF/218ºC Bake Immediately lower the heat to 350ºF/177ºC and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the loaves if necessary and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until reddish brown. Cool At least 1 hour