Home » Bread » Finnish Rye Sourdough | Recipe

Finnish Rye Sourdough | Recipe

by Saara

In this post, I’ll teach you how to make the rye sponge, work the 100% rye dough, shape the rye boule and how to bake the bread. Baking Finnish rye sourdough is worth your while. And I don’t mean only because it’s absolutely delicious, but also because you learn how to take care of your rye starter in the simplest way. I have 3 starters in my kitchen these days, and maintaining the rye starter is the easiest from the all.

This specific 100% rye sourdough recipe originates to a 1940s Finnish cookbook Maija keittää which would simply translate “Mary cooks”. The book is a relic & the recipes whisper stories from an era when butter was washed.

Baking rye sourdough is a much older tradition, though. I think the oldest current rye starters in Finland date back to the 1800s. Making the “hapanleipä” has not changed much over the years and this bread is a true classic to know.

Disclaimer: the post includes affiliate links, meaning that I get a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the given links. Read full disclosure here.

Back in the day baking rye bread was family or group affair. The wood-fired oven was hot all day & kitchen full of loaves. I’ve scaled down the recipe from 3,5 kg flour to 700g flour. Now you can either make one huge rye loaf or 2 smaller ones instead of overcrowding all your kitchen table tops with bread. 

The rye sourdough recipe is easy but I must give a fair warning that shaping the bread is a skill you learn over time. On the other hand, you can shape the dough in whatever way you fancy or bake it in a tin. And as always with sourdough, patience is the key.

Here’s a FAQ post about baking 100% wholegrain rye sourdough, it’s worth checking if rye is a new grain in your kitchen.

Ingredients and tools to bake 100% rye sourdough

For baking rye sourdough you will need few simple things:

  • coarse wholegrain rye flour, water, salt
  • a medium bowl and a whisk to make the starter/ sponge
  • a bigger bowl and wooden spoon to mix the dough
  • kitchen towels, fork or a grilling stick
  • baking stone (preferred) and a bread peel

When choosing the rye flour, go for dark rye flour. It’s sandy and rather coarse, preferably stoneground. I usually use three types of rye flour to build flavours and texture but you can start with the coarse type of flour. It’s the main thing, fresh coarse wholegrain rye flour. If you have any hesitations about the rye flour, DM me on Instagram or leave a comment below, I’m happy to help.

Choosing rye flour in the US

Many who have baked this bread in the US have used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Rye* as a combination with another type of rye flour from some other brand. Also, Great River Organic Milling has organic stone ground medium-dark rye Flour* and it’s available in 25-Pounds sack. Do share in the comments if you have a good rye brand you would like to recommend to others.

Choosing rye flour in the UK

Look for wholegrain rye from millers. I’ve noticed that Shipton Mill is a trusted flour source among bakers. To point out another organic option, Doves Farm sells 2 X 1Kg bag of wholegrain organic rye flour*, which is just the perfect amount to start your rye baking adventure.

In addition to the dark rye, you can substitute some of the flour with medium rye (for example *Organic medium rye flour 1kg from Naked tree). Finely milled light rye can be used in moderation in 100% rye loaf but it’s a better addition to gluten-based sourdough loaves (and making Karelian pies here in Finland :)).

100 percent real rye sourdough

Taikinatiinu – what is that?

Before the recipe, I must first tell you a bit about that wooden item right up there. Have you seen one before? As a cultural history-driven person I’m always curious to study and experience techniques how things were used to be baked and cooked. Since rye sourdough is such a cornerstone of my everyday life, I decided that there has to be extra space in our kitchen for an old taikinatiinu ie. a traditional wooden bucket or pail designed for rye sourdough baking alone.

Sadly the old pails are a) very hard to find b) too expensive and c) often in too damaged condition or re-used improperly so that they’re not fit for baking anymore. So last I gave up the dream of having an old usable taikinatiinu and bought myself a new model. 

My wooden baking bucket is 9 liters in size. It’s made of pinewood like in the old days. Conveniently, it maintains my updated dry starter now and I soak it every time I start to bake rye bread. This pail has so many great qualities in rye baking that I’m gonna give it a post of its own someday. But now the recipe!

Rye Sourdough Recipe | Hapanleipä

INGREDIENTS

  • 700 g rye flour (+extra for dusting & shaping)
  • 0,6 liters water (lukewarm up to 28-30C / 86F during winter)
  • 10-12 g sea salt

Making the rye starter / raski / sponge / leaven

You prepare your very own rye starter so give your normal wheat-based sourdough starter a free day off. All of the rye starter is used in baking and it’s part of the recipe, no discard. I guess you could refer to this starter porridge (raski in Finnish) as sponge or leaven.

I have a step by a step blog post about making the rye starter, click here. I’ve also linked this link at the end of the post so you can visit it after reading this recipe first.

How the rye starter ingredients are divided to make a sponge and the final dough

Okay, the simple calculations to understand how the 700g flour and 0,6litre water is divided between the starter sponge/leaven and the actual final dough.

I use 3 x 60g dark rye flour and 3 x 100ml warm water to build the rye starter. So in total, I reduce 180g flour out of the given total of 700g in the recipe. This leaves me the rest of the flour (700-180 = 520g) for dough building. The 300 ml water is used for the rye starter, and the last 300ml added into the dough on the day of baking.

To summarize, you basically use a portion of the flour and water to build a runny starter sponge. And to make 100% rye bread, you need to make this rye sponge every time as you would build fresh leaven from your mother starter for your wheat-based loaf.

Depending on your dark rye flour, you may require a little less or a little more water when making the sponge and the dough. Consistency and fermentation of the dough are the keys to success, you will learn your way when you get to know your chosen rye flour better.

The hydration ratios before the shaping stage for Finnish rye sourdough

  • The starter/sponge makes approximately ~37% of the final dough (does not include the flour in the shaping stage)
  • The starter sponge / raski is 166% in hydration
  • The final dough is 86% in hydration (does not include the amount of extra rye flour you use during shaping)

INSTRUCTIONS

Making the sponge / raski

In a bowl, add 100ml warm water into 60 grams of rye flour and whisk vigorously. Cover the starter with a kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm spot. Repeat feedings a two more times adding 60 grams more flour and 100 ml of water each time. A 10-12 hour interval is a good reference for feedings, keep the bowl covered well and in a warm spot.

The consistency of the sponge reminds you of runny porridge. It’s important to remember to whisk air into the NEW rye starter multiple times in between feedings. If you haven’t made a rye starter or sponge before, please check this post: the photos and steps in this blog post give you a good reference for this easy process.

Keeping an eye on the temperature is useful especially during winter. You can use warmer water up to 30°C/ 86°F. Warmer and runnier starter results in rounder sourdough taste thanks to lactic acid bacteria whereas colder starter will have more vinegary notes. If you like the latter profile more, it’s okay to let the starter bubble another day with longer waiting times in between the feeding.

Working the rye dough

When the sponge/raski is ready, measure the rest of the ingredients, and build the dough. Whisk water into the sponge and add more rye flour little by little. When the dough is too heavy to be mixed with a whisk, let the dough rest for a while so that the rye flour will set.

Then, add more rye flour and continue mixing with a wooden spoon. Give the dough a second pause.

Finally, add the rest of the flour with salt but don’t forget to take a piece of unsalted dough aside. Instructions and purpose of this small piece of dough is explained in below.

Take two small spoonfuls of unsalted dough aside. You can use this piece of fresh rye starter if you make rye sourdough again within a week or two. Keep the starter in an airtight container in the fridge. Stays fresh up to 2 weeks.

Now, knead the wet dough carefully and patiently by hand (5-8 minutes will do). Give the dough 2-4 hours rest at room temperature to build volume. The dough should double its size before shaping & baking.

The old fashioned way is to press a cross over the dough to bless the bread. This cross sign will also communicates when the dough has risen enough.

How to shape 100% rye sourdough

Dust your working desk properly with rye flour & start thinking about shapes: a rectangle, a ball, and a pyramid. Shaping the wet dough is a challenge and you should be quick. Flour your hands multiple times.

Decide whether you bake 1 or 2 loaves and dust one or two more spots on the working surface where you place the shaped bread to rise (dusted parchment paper as a good assistant to load a loaf into the oven).

Now to the specifics of shaping!

Firstly, try to build a rectangle by rolling the dough against the surface. The dough becomes denser but the purpose is not to use too much flour when working on the dough. You do not want any floury surprises inside your loaf so keep your dough moving on a lightly floured surface. Add little flour when needed and tap your hands in flour often.

In the second stage, build the ball shape. With your dominant hand fold the dough from the side into the middle whilst moving the ball clock-wise. The bread top (against the surface) should become smooth without any wrinkles so keep folding a couple of more rounds.

Finally, the pyramid. When folding is done, press the dough ball against the table surface with your both hands while making a fast-paced counterclockwise motion. Make a circular motion.

You will notice that the ball becomes a reverse pyramid when the table facing top becomes sharper in shape whereas the dough leaning against your palms stays flat.

You will also see that this pyramid process fails if you keep doing it too slow or too long. But that’s okay, you have time to repeat this. Try to find the right timing to flip the pyramid 180 degrees.

Place the bread onto the floured spot or parchment paper. Dust the bread surface lightly with rye flour, cover with a kitchen towel and let it/the loaves rise for an hour. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225-240°C/437-460°F with a baking stone at least 45min in advance.

If your rye sourdough is flat within a couple of minutes of the shaping, the dough is too wet to hold its shape. Don’t worry, shape again with a little bit more flour.

How to bake beautiful rye sourdough

The surface of the bread now shows crackling and the pyramid like boule shape has flattened. Now we want to emphasize the crackling a bit more: press the top dome down lightly and flatten the loaf more while supporting the bread from the sides.

No scoring! The aesthetics of the Finnish rye sourdough is fine crackling rather than grand craters. When it comes to height of the bread, the baked sourdough loaf has a flattened dome. The bread has a lightly open crumb with lots of tiny air bubbles. The crumb should not be overly dense and this why we are careful with the dough building process not to add too much flour.

Important! Before loading the bread into the oven,  prick the surface all over with a fork.

How long to bake 100% Finnish rye sourdough

Bake on a baking stone for 40-60 minutes (lower rack). After the first 10 minutes, adjust the temperature to 200°C/392°F.  Smaller loaves bake in 40 minutes whereas a bigger loaf can take over an hour depending on the oven. I usually bake my loaves in 45-50 minutes with the current oven we have.

You know the bread is done when the knock on the bottom sounds hollow. Let the loaf rest on a cooling rack for a while (10 minutes) before tucking it in a kitchen towel. Let the rye sourdough rest covered and tucked in the tea towel overnight before cutting slices or freezing the loaf. The rye sourdough gets better and better when you wait.

I recommend baking 100% rye sourdough on a stone. You can use a pizza stone as long as the diameter is bigger than the loaf. Baking the bread on a stone has many advantages in sourdough baking in genereal, and with 100% rye it mimics the old traditional way of baking bread in wood-fired ovens.

If you don’t have a pizza stone, measure your oven first before making your choice. I have a round baking stone similar to this 4 inch Round, Cast Elegance Theramite Durable Pizza and Baking Stone for Oven and Grill*. But if you’re really into bread baking and anticipate that baking two loaves simultaneously is your thing, then of course a bigger rectangular baking stone is a better, such as this ROCKSHEAT Pizza Stone 12in x 15in Rectangular Baking & Grilling Stone, Perfect for Oven, BBQ and Grill*. The stone has 4 built-in handles which is important for moving the stone in and out of the oven.

What does 100% rye sourdough taste like?

The Finnish 100% sourdough (hapanleipä) is sour, but it depends on the baker how sour you want your loaf. The key here is making the sponge. If you use warmer water and use a runnier sponge, it will result in rounder sourdough taste thanks to lactic acid bacteria. On the other hand, if you use colder water to build the sponge, the sponge as well as the final loaf will have more vinegary notes.

The crust of the 100% rye sourdough taste amazing! It is smoky and strong. Something to bite into whereas the middle crumb of the bread is dense-soft and open with tiny air pockets.

Once baked, the baker must wait until the next day before the first bite. I know, too hard! Check the rye sourdough FAQ post to see how thin I slice my rye sourdough.

The flavor of rye sourdough gets better when the bread sits on the table. I like my rye sourdough best the third day after the baking. We keep the loaf wrapped in a kitchen towel and it’s good for a week. I usually bake two small loaves and freeze the other one to keep it fresh for later enjoyment.

The more one bakes with the same starter, the stronger your sourdough culture builds and the more complex the loaves will become taste-wise. I recommend that you update the dehydrated copy of your rye starter every now and then, so that you always have the strongest version available.

The key to succeed is to use fresh wholegrain rye flour

If you haven’t used rye flour before in bread baking, the Fresh Loaf has good info on different types of rye flour available. If you use finely milled rye flour to substitute some of the wholegrain rye flour in the recipe, add more water. 

Many who have baked this bread in the US have used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Rye* as a combination with another type of rye flour from some other brand. Also, Great River Organic Milling has organic stone ground medium-dark rye Flour* and it’s available in a 25-Pounds sack. In the UK,  Doves Farm has 2 X 1Kg bags of wholegrain organic rye flour*. Do share in the comments if you have a good rye brand you would like to recommend to others.

I prefer to bake 100% rye sourdough on a baking stone but don’t be afraid to make this bread even though if you don’t have one. I’ve made this bread hundred of times and baking it on a tray is possible, too. If you don’t have a stone, investing the 30-50 dollars is worth every penny. If your routine is to bake two loaves simultaneously, measure your oven and get a rectangular pizza stone. For example, ROCKSHEAT Pizza Stone 12in x 15in Rectangular Baking & Grilling Stone, Perfect for Oven, BBQ and Grill*.

I love this rye bread recipe

I’ve been baking this 100% rye sourdough for six years mostly on a weekly basis. The best feedback I got already with my first loaf when our neighbour, well into his 70s, told me that the bread tastes like his childhood. So grateful for those words!

Sometimes it’s a fun game to find the perfect flour match. I’ve been testing coarse rye flours from different organic farmers & millers here in Finland. One of my favorite flour combos is to have wholegrain rye with smoked wholegrain rye flour with a 2:1 ratio.

My wooden pail, taikinatiinu, stores the starter culture for me in a very easy way. The pail is never washed with soap or too hot water to maintain the culture & I use the pail only for rye sourdough baking. I’m really happy that I can keep the rye starter dry this way in the countryside whereas in the city the rye starter is more often in the fridge in the doughy form.

Have you had any experience baking 100 percent rye sourdough? I’m curious to know how it was different from this Finnish version and if you will try this one too :)

My Vintage Cooking instagram

Love, Saara

Useful resources to 100% rye sourdough baking

100% Rye Sourdough | FAQ

Making rye sourdough starter step by step

ruisleipä juureen

Finnish Rye Sourdough | My Vintage Cooking

Print recipe
Makes/Serves: 1-2 loaves Prep Time: Cooking time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

INGREDIENTS

  • 700 g wholegrain rye flour
  • 600 ml water (lukewarm up to 30°C/ 86°F)
  • 10-12 g sea salt

METHOD

The Rye Sponge

Use 180g of the flour and 300ml of water from total to build the rye starter. In the late afternoon, mix 60g rye flour with 100ml warm water in a medium-sized bowl. Keep it covered in a warm spot and whisk occasionally. Give it two feedings (60g+100ml) during the next day. Whisk air in between feedings. In the next morning, the starter is ready for baking. The sponge has runny porridge-like consistency. It taste sour and has lots of tiny bubbles on surface to show activity.

 

Building the rye dough

Measure the rest of the ingredients, and build the dough in a bigger bowl. Whisk water into the sponge and add more rye flour little by little. When the dough is too heavy to be mixed with a whisk, let the dough rest for a while so that the rye flour will set. Then, add more rye flour and continue mixing with a wooden spoon. Give the dough a second pause. Finally, add the rest of the flour with salt but don’t forget to take a piece of unsalted dough aside for your next bake. Store this fresh dough in an air-tight box in the fridge, it's fresh up to 2 weeks.

Now, knead the wet dough carefully and patiently by hand (5-8 minutes will do). Give the dough 2-4 hours rest at room temperature to build volume. The dough should double its size before shaping & baking. The old fashioned way is to press a cross over the dough to bless the bread. This cross sign will also communicates when the dough has risen enough.

 

Shaping the rye dough

Dust your working desk properly with rye flour. Shaping the wet dough into a pyramid-sharp boule is a challenge and you should be quick not to let the dough stick. Flour your hands multiple times and lightly add more flour whenever needed. Decide whether you bake 1 or 2 loaves and dust one or two more spots on the working surface where you place the shaped bread to rise (dusted parchment paper as a good assistant to load a loaf into the oven). If baking the loaves in a tin, prepare them with parchment paper. 

Dust the bread surface lightly with rye flour, cover with a kitchen towel and let it/the loaves rise for an hour. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225-240°C/437-460°F with a baking stone at least 45min in advance.

 

Baking the 100% rye sourdough

The surface of the bread now shows crackling and the pyramid like boule shape has flattened. Now we want to emphasize the crackling a bit more:press the top dome down lightly while supporting the bread from the sides.

Do not score the bread. Instead, prick the surface of the loaf multiple times before loading into the oven.

Bake on a baking stone for 40-60 minutes (lower rack). After the first 10 minutes, adjust the temperature to 200°C/392°F.  Smaller loaves bake in 40 minutes whereas a bigger loaf can take over an hour depending on the oven.

You know the bread is done when the knock on the bottom sounds hollow. Let the loaf rest on a cooling rack for a while (10 minutes) before tucking it in a kitchen towel. Let the rye sourdough rest covered and tucked in the tea towel overnight before cutting slices.

 

How to store 100% rye sourdough

The rye sourdough gets better and better the longer it sits on the table. Store it tucked in a tea towel in a cool place. The bread is good up to a week. Alternatively, you can freeze a loaf. Cut the loaf in half or slice it and freeze in plastic bags.

NOTES

For baking rye sourdough you need: a big bowl, a whisk, a wooden spoon, baking stone and a bread peel. When choosing the rye flour, go for dark rye flour. It's sandy and rather coarse. Remember to whisk air into the starter in between feedings. Keeping an eye on the temperature is useful especially during winter - warmer and runnier starter results in rounder sourdough taste thanks to lactic acid bacteria whereas colder starter will have more vinegar. If you like the latter profile more, it's okay to let the starter bubble another day with longer feeding times.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag me on Instagram @myvintagecooking

The traditional rye sourdough recipe adopted from the book: Oksanen Aili, Harmio Liisi (2004) Maija keittää. Jyväskylä: Gummerus Kirjapaino Oy. 18. Edition.

You may also like

42

Michele 2022-01-20 - 11:08 PM

Thank you for this recipe. It’s really hard to find English instructions! My husband’s late wife was Finnish so he came to love many Finnish foods and customs. We live in a small town in Canada and though some bigger centres have Finnish foods, we are about 2 hrs away from them! I had purchased an unmarked 5 lb. bag of dark rye flour from a local mill that sells in bulk so I could try to make Karelian pies. They worked out well, so I thought I’d try ruisleipa for him. Your instructions were “clear as mud” but this was only because the recipe and procedure were so foreign to me;) As I read through the recipe multiple times, read the comments, watched the videos that were linked, and jumped into the first step, it became more clear as I went along following your well outlined steps! I have seldom worked with weights and percentages to cook, but even those started to make sense the more I read. One small room in my house has a heated floor, which my starter liked very much. It was nicely bubbled by day 3, but it was brand new and I may have added too much flour when I was kneading because mine wasn’t as sticky or as hard to shape as many commenters mentioned. It shaped nicely, but I didn’t have any cracking and I let it rise for probably 5 hrs before baking because it wasn’t really doing anything! My husband thought it smelled great baking, and I just slice one of the small breads which tasted good (I think:) It was hard outside and difficult to slice through, but the inside was nice and soft. So, I think it worked ok for batch #1. Hopefully with my next batch the strength of my sponge will improve and maybe my skills will improve a little bit more, too:) Again, thank you, Sara for helping to make this possible with your excellent tutorial. I love your big, authentic pine bowl.

Reply
Saara 2022-01-24 - 10:13 AM

Thank you for sharing Michele! I can hear from your experiences that your rye baking has started so well! Often times baking with rye is new territory for avid bakers as well and I’m happy to have helped you on this journey :)

The final proof takes longer when more flour is involved in the shaping and/or when the temperature is not warm enough, this is totally okay as long as you patiently wait to see the crackling before loading into the oven. The 100% rye loaf is more about reading the dough than exact measurements because the flour varies so much.

Please do give a shout-out to your local mill here if you wish. This will help fellow Canadians to find and experiment with their flour selection. :)

Happy new year 2022 and delicious rye baking Michele!

Saara

Reply
George 2021-12-07 - 2:32 AM

About to do my first 100% rye bread tomorrow using Anita’s organic Rye flour. I live in BC, Canada and a polish lady wants a rye bread with caraway seeds in it. I’ve been doing regular sourdough bread for a while now and it is a hit, but this rye is going to be a challenge.

Reply
Saara 2021-12-07 - 10:46 AM

Good luck and have fun rye baking George! Do you have the starter bubbling already? You definitely can spice the 100% rye loaf with caraway seeds, I bet it will be delicious. :)
Saara

Reply
Klaus Grof 2021-07-27 - 3:48 AM

Very nice and interesting this page. Plenty of useful information. Congratulations!!

Reply
Saara 2021-08-13 - 10:50 AM

Thank you so much Klaus! Do you also love the 100% rye bread? :)

Saara

Reply
Mika 2021-02-25 - 10:32 PM

Hello! Question on the starter – I made mine a few weeks ago and saved a bit of unsalted dough as you suggested. I just whisked this unsalted dough with warm water to “wake it up”, and added 60g flour and 100ml water. Since this is a previously made starter, do I need to do the 3 day process again of adding in the flour and water, or do I just subtract that 60g flour and 100 ml water from the final amount and go on to the next step?

Kiitos!
Mika

Reply
Saara 2021-02-28 - 5:48 PM

Hi Mika! I would follow the baking process as is a couple of times at least before adjusting. When the starter gets stronger, you’ll notice it will get hungry faster. With 100% rye recipes the amount of sponge is quite high and it needs to achive the sour profile in order to work ☺️👍🏼

Reply
Donna 2021-02-16 - 12:58 PM

Can this dough be shaped to a flattish round with the center hole cut out like I see some Finnish breads? Thanks for your reply and recipe 😀

Reply
Saara 2021-02-16 - 2:25 PM

Hi Donna! Yes absolutely you can but I would make a couple of adjustments to the dough and the process to achieve the right texture. Substitute some of the rye flour with wheat flour and use steam during the oven bake. These tweaks will make the bread easier to slice yet maintain the chewy consistency and delicious flavor. After the dough has risen, divide it into two and shape the pieces into round balls on a well-floured surface. Let them rest for a while and then flatten the shape and cut a hole into the middle of the loaves (floured drinking glass for example). Give the this final stage when on a lightly floured baking tray. Let the loaves rise well-covered under a kitchen towel. Keep an eye on the process so you’ll know when to preheat the oven. When the loaves are good to go, press cuts on the surface of the bread (for example 2,4,8 and 10 o’clock). These traditional cuts will help you to slice the bread and so you don’t need to press them all the way. Remember to prick the surface also with a stick and then transfer the loaves into the oven. Bake with steam for 15 minutes in a hot oven and let the steam out. Keep the rest of the bake at 200C until to loaves are ready (knock knock test on the bottom). After the bake, keep the loaves tucked within a kitchen towel so this will soften the crust. Oh and don’t discard the hole buttons! They are delicious but one must just remember to take them out of the oven sooner :)

Saara

Reply
Donna 2021-02-20 - 3:11 AM

Thank you so much for your detailed reply! This will be my weekend project 😁❤️

Reply
Edmond Fonseca 2021-02-04 - 5:50 PM

Hi! Thank you very much for this detailed recipe.
I have an question though: you said “the starter/sponge makes approximately 26% of the final dough”
So: This 26% of starter account for flour and water toguether? Or only the flour used? Because total recipe is 700g flour + 600g water = 1300g (final dough). The starter is made with 180g flour + 300g water = 480g (starter). 480g (starter) / 1300g (final dough) = 0.369 (37%). But using only the flour weight we have 180g (flour starter) / 700g (total flour) = 0.0257 (26%). Which one is correct? Sorry for this dumb question. Oh, and the Youtube channel link you provided https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfCLvsnKXTA was cancelled. Do you have another link for this instructional video? Thank you!

Reply
Saara 2021-02-14 - 10:28 PM

Hello Edmond! You’re absolutely right, thank you for pointing that out. With the baker’s percentage, the starter sponge is ~37% of the final dough. I modified this to text and added also the hydration details: rye sponge is 166% and the final dough is 86% in hydration in the rising stage (in the shaping stage you’ll need extra rye flour). These are the targets but depending on the dark rye flour the specs will vary a little. :)

And oh man, it was an excellent shaping video from the 70s! Too bad it’s not available anymore. Before I make my own, please check these two bakers who have adaptions of the pyramid technique explained in this post:

Start at 4:30min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHcpCFy36o4
Start at 1:20min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bai8ie5UmAU

If the old school pyramid technique is not working for you, this baker shows a different way by shaping two loaves at the same time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T57Jj5x4Lbc

Happy baking!

Saara

Reply
Edmond Fonseca 2021-03-13 - 12:27 AM

Hi Saara! Thank you so much for your reply and the new videos! They were really really helpful!

Reply
Saara 2021-03-14 - 2:36 PM

You’re welcome, happy to help! :)

Saara

Reply
Susie Pennala 2020-11-16 - 6:35 PM

I’m so happy to have found this post. I received a Finnish rye sourdough starter that has been passed down for over 50 years here in the US. But I was disappointed to find they use yeast as a regular part of their recipe. I have been making regular wheat sourdough, so was hoping to find a recipe with the sourdough basics of flour, water & salt. I’m also very interested in the wooden bowl you use! My ancestors were all Finnish immigrants, and I recently heard a memory from my mothers 86 year old cousin of my great grandmother making rye sourdough and mixing it in a wooden bowl. I would love to learn more about how it’s used!

Reply
Saara 2020-12-02 - 6:14 PM

How wonderful to hear Susie, thanks for sharing! The wooden bowl is a fantastic tool and I’m happy to share more of this tradition in the future. :) Happy baking with the rye starter, I can only imagine how strong it will be

Reply
K 2020-11-16 - 3:09 AM

Hi Sara,
I was wondering how to make this same bread if I already have the rye sour starter? What amount of starter do I use and do I start a day ahead of baking to make a sponge? If so what amount of starter, water and flour is used?
Thanks in advance!!

Reply
Kelly 2020-11-15 - 3:55 AM

Hi, I was wondering how to make this same bread if I already have the rye sour starter? What amount of starter do I use and do I start a day ahead of baking to make a sponge? If so what amount of starter, water and flour is used?
Thanks in advance!!

Reply
Saara 2020-12-02 - 6:19 PM

Hi Kelly! You can go ahead and build the sponge with your current rye starter. Just add a tiny amount of your starter, from a teaspoon to a tablespoon, and follow the measurements and the recipe as usual. The old starter will give you a boost and since being a relatively small amount, it does not require any adjustments to the recipe. The bubbly sponge will give the rye bread its character :)

Reply
PJW Holland 2020-10-25 - 5:10 PM

I can make neither head nor tail of the pyramid bit. Perhaps some illustrations would help!

Reply
Saara 2020-10-25 - 10:16 PM

It’s the old, traditional way of shaping the rye loaf. Here’s one example, pyramid starts 6:45
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bb_EcXWVN0&t=3s

You can also use your own method, here’s one example. Shaping starts at 2:55
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVdhx1EBl7M

The most important thing aesthetics-wise is to get the top surface smooth. Hope these links help :)

Reply
Jean Gong 2020-07-10 - 7:23 PM

I love your blog in generally the pictures you use. I especially am interested in trying out the Finnish Rye Sourdough recipe. Having read through your instructions, I would like to to make it in a loaf pan versus the authentic free-form shape. Would you have any guidance on bake time? Thanks!

Reply
Saara 2020-07-13 - 11:19 AM

Hi Jean! Thank you for your kindness. The Finnish 100% rye makes a great pan loaf. Line the bread pan with parchment paper. After the dough has risen, add more flour to shape it into a uniform piece (not too much flour). Place that piece into the bread pan and dust some rye flour on top. The dough is now left to rest before the bake. The bread is ready for the oven when the surface shows crackling. Pre-heat the oven slightly hotter but adjust it back to the recipe after 10 minutes. Depending on the pan size and your oven, the oven time is around 50 min.

Have fun!

Saara

Reply
Dakota 2020-05-20 - 4:20 PM

I tried to make this bread, but the crumb is very moist and sticky after 28+ hours of letting the final bread loaves rest. My wife says the taste is right, but she won’t eat it because the inside is kind of sticky. I fed the rye sour once a day for three days and on the third night put the starter in the fridge and baked on the fourth night after leaving the sour on the counter all day. Was this a mistake? The crumb appearance, smell, and taste are all correct but it sticks to the knife and is very ‘wet’ for lack of a better word. Any advice? I’ll try this again next week as well.

Reply
Saara 2020-10-25 - 10:38 PM

Hello and sorry for the delay in my response! Yeah, the fridge part probably messed things up a bit. How did the second time go?

When schedules change, what you can do next time is that you keep feeding the raski starter in room temperature so that it doesn’t get too hungry and vinegary. You can then amp up the size of the dough in same manner, keeping the amount of starter at 26% of the final dough. Or you can use the extra amount of starter to bake another kind of sourdough bread.

Kudos to you for waiting 28+ hours before the first slice!

Reply
Norman Pieniazek 2020-05-14 - 5:37 PM

Hi Sara – what is your source of the smoked rye flour?

Reply
Saara 2020-05-28 - 2:02 PM

Hi Norman! I will link it here when I find some available online. It’s called “riihiruis” in Finnish & many producers/millers have it in their selection in Finland.

Saara

Reply
Rob 2020-05-06 - 8:22 PM

Hi Saara —

I loved the simplicity of this recipe and impulsively decided to go for it.

The finished loaves look great and the top crust and the flavor are amazing. But the interior of my loaves is like a brick. In fact, the crust puffed up perhaps 3 cm above the overly dense interior.

So I’d like some advice as to where my attempt went wrong?

I used finely ground dark rye flour — and found I had to add perhaps 30% more water than you call for to get the starter close to a porridge-like consistency. Even so, my starter was denser than yours and didn’t bubble as much. But it was active: it grew about 4 cm in the bowl the night before I baked. I also added about 30% more water when I was making the dough. Even so, manipulating it was extremely difficult because of how sticky it was. I allowed it to rise for 4 hours. It never quite doubled in size, but perhaps grew 66%. I baked the small loaves until they thumped nicely, about 60 minutes. Also, I don’t have a scale, so I converted your gram measurements to American volume measures, which I know is highly imprecise.

So: I’m asking for your thoughts. Was the problem my starter, which perhaps needed more time to develop? Was it the flour — which was perhaps too processed to work well in this recipe? Did I need to do more shaping and molding to give the starch in the dough a chance to develop? Any thoughts? I’d like to try again.

Thx!

Rob

Reply
Jyri 2020-04-30 - 3:22 AM

Kiitos Saara! A big thank you for the recipe. I’ve been meaning to bake rye bread here in Australia for a long time and your blog post gave me the confidence to give it a try. Admittedly my attempt to follow your recipe didn’t quite work as expected. My starter or leivän juuri didn’t rise my dough after 3 hours so got disheartened and impatient so I added yeast. Kneading the dough was a sticky mess but after adding some yeast it rose and was much easier to handle. I’ve never made bread before so a few hiccups was to be expected. Very happy with the result in the end. So thanks again. A couple pics of the bread I made if links are allowed https://imgur.com/l6SuoOY https://imgur.com/6WB3u7Y

Reply
Saara 2020-05-01 - 8:53 PM

Hello! Well done & thanks for sharing the photos! The crumb looks really nice and fresh. :) Adding yeast is absolutely okay, traditionally it’s not added but of course one needs to save the bread. Getting the raski/juuri bubbly active requires extra patience sometimes, that’s the sourdough life. But when the starter is fed and baked with, it will get stronger & faster :)

Reply
Don F Savolainen 2020-04-27 - 3:03 PM

Hello. I ate sour dark rye bread in Eastern Finland at my relatives. Loved it. This recipe has no yeast and the sour is made through a natural fermentation. Your instructions are a bit vague, but I assume that making the sour is a three day process?

Reply
Saara 2020-04-27 - 3:28 PM

Hi Don! Happy to hear you love rye bread! This is a traditional method using only natural fermentation. You can check the step by step instructions for the starter part on this post.

Making a new dark rye starter is a 2-4 day process depending on your flour and temperatures. Whisking helps a lot with the activity. It’s important to bake the 100% rye with coarse wholemeal rye, I recommend blending two rye flour brands/types because the grinding varies so much globally. Making rye bread is a slow process but it makes it super healthy and tasty. :)

Don’t hesitate to ask if more questions arise.

Saara

Reply
Pat Yonemura 2020-02-10 - 6:47 PM

My 100% rye sourdough bread is in the oven and I am blown away by how wonderful it smells! I’m just sitting here and breathing it in, and hoping it will taste as good as it smells in the oven. Thank you!!!

Reply
Saara 2020-02-10 - 8:18 PM

How wonderful to hear this! Remember to cover the loaf in a kitchen towel after bake & please be patient until the next day before slicing. Hope you enjoy it!

Love,
Saara

Reply
Delia Siivola 2019-12-26 - 6:57 PM

Hello Saara, and Merry Christmas! I found your recipe following a search in October and have now made it half a dozen times. My husband loves having the flavors of his motherland in our home. Thank-you for making the process so easy to follow. I especially appreciate how simple and traditional the ingredient list is. This is now a family recipe. :-)

Reply
Saara 2019-12-30 - 10:20 PM

Thank you Delia for sharing, this warms my heart! I’m so happy you all are enjoying rye bread now :)

Reply
Mathew Szymczyk 2019-12-16 - 2:32 PM

Hi,
I’m looking for some advice on rye flour.
I’m trying to make Ruisleipä for my Aiti at Christmas, proper rye flour is apparently hard to come by in Perth Western Australia. Just wondering if you think the rye flour from Eden Valley will do the trick and be similar to what she remembers from Finland?
Thanks a lot

Reply
Saara 2019-12-16 - 3:12 PM

What a wonderful surprise to bake ruisleipä for your mother! Typically I combine 2-3 different kinds of rye flour in the bread-making (grind type and producer) when making 100% rye loaf. I suggest you buy at least 2 different bags of rye flour, too.

The Eden Valley rye flour seems to be stone ground which is good, it means it should be at least close to coarse. Try to get that one. I would also check organic shops & health food stores for the other one. From Finnish friends I have heard it’s quite a challenge to find rye flour in Australia, but not impossible.

In this step by step starter post, I’m using coarse rye flour. Also, here’s a detail pic form a UK producer which looks very good. I hope these help you navigate the rye flour selection in Perth. :)

Saara

Reply
Kathleen Rodegeb 2019-09-10 - 5:53 AM

I made this bread after first making a 100% rye starter, which took about 3 weeks to become mature. I’ll say, this was quite and experience in bread baking, nothing like any other loaves I’ve made. I wish I could post photos here to get some feedback, but my loaves (2) look pretty much like the finished loaf in your photo. But I have to admit the recipe was difficult to follow; I did my best. I really could not tell how much starter to use as it’s not in the recipe, and in building the starter, I did not see any discard when adding more flour and water … so I played it by ear. And after my dough had rested/bulk fermented until double, it was beautiful and airy but when I tried to shape it, it just became a mushy blob again, there was no kind of shaping happening no matter what. So, I basically just pushed it all together into a more or less round shape, let it proof for the final hour, and then baked. The final loaves have crispy crusts and soft crumb, but not as airy and open as in your photos. Still, while the bread was baking the house was filled with its wonderful aroma and, the very bottom line, the bread itself is delicious. I’ll try this again, but I’ll play around with the final proofing somewhat.

Reply
Saara 2019-09-29 - 2:33 PM

Thank you so much Kathleen! It warms my heart that you baked with this vintage recipe, I would love to see bread photos of yours :) I’m so happy that you enjoyed the bread taste but sorry to hear that you had challenges with the recipe. But I guess it’s always a test when trying something new for the first time. Your feedback was so helpful – I’ve now added calculations to the starter section in this post and I also posted a step by step blog post with photos about making the starter, please find it here: https://myvintagecooking.com/rye-sourdough-starter-step-by-step/ I hope this encourages and supports in the baking process, let me know what you think.

Making rye sourdough the old fashioned way is really a different concept from what we now understand as general sourdough making. The starter is a runny bubbly porridge and commonly kept as a dry copy in comparison to having a pet in the fridge. Bannetons are not used, in stead this dough can be shaped in so many ways.

I will post a shaping video next year before spring but in the meanwhile I can direct you and fellow rye lovers to check these sources. Here we can see the variety of different shapes played with rye bread: https://finland.fi/life-society/the-root-of-finnish-rye-bread/ and here is a very informative video clip in Youtube about the shaping the dough to dome like in this recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfCLvsnKXTA. Start the video at 14.45 to check an ideal consistency when shaping and at 18.00-18.29 to see the final shaping to build the dome before proofing.

Full rye loaves are more dense due to less gluten. For this reason, rye holds less gas and the crumb has smaller bubbles. If the loaf comes up too dense, try using less flour especially in the shaping stage.

Reply

Leave a comment

Thanks for leaving a comment. We respect your privacy and your email will NOT be published. All comments are moderated for the safety & quality of the site. By using this comment form, you agree with the handling of your data as per the privacy policy.

Hello! This website uses cookies to improve site performance, statistics and manage personalized content including ads. Learn how to manage cookies, please click read more. Okay, thanks! Read More