Monday, October 16, 2006

Rieska - A Finnish Bread

In Finland you can find an amazing array of different types of bread for your eating pleasure. From the dessert-like leipäjuusto (breadcheese) best served with warmed cloudberry sauce through to a large variety of ruisleipä (ryebread). Today is World Bread Day and in honour of this all-important staple, I choose to serve up one of Finland's oldest breads, rieska. Rieska is thought to be the very oldest of all Finnish breads, as it was produced in the days before the fermentation technique was discovered. Every village and area of Finland has its own recipe.

One of my fondest memories of Finland is visiting Mummu (Grandma) at her smallholder's farm and eating her rieska straight out of the oven, hot with butter. When I went back in 2005, I was on the lookout for Mummun rieska, and as always, I wasn't disappointed. Her's, I believe, is made simply with barley flour, water, salt and maybe a touch of milk. They are made well in advance and are hung from the rafters to keep over the extreme winter that Finland experiences. Even though the ingredients are simple, what made Mummu's rieska different was her old, wood stove that after years and years of experience was used to its fullest ability to produce simply wonderful tasting rieska.

When Zorra invited us to participate in World Bread Day by baking any type of bread, I knew that I would have to bake rieska. Unfortunately, I didn't have any barley flour on hand but rye flour worked just as well. This recipe is taken from The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice A. Ojakangas and uses buttermilk and cream. It was very, very tasty. Recipe after the jump.


125 millilitres of buttermilk
125 millilitres of double cream
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup of barley flour
1 tablespoon of melted butter

Mix together in a bowl the buttermilk, cream, salt and sugar. Stir in the flour and beat until smooth. Add the butter.

Pour the batter into a well greased and floured 9-inch cake pan. Bake in a very hot oven, 210 degrees Celsius, for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot with butter.

- I substitute the buttermilk for the same amount of milk with 1/2 a teaspoon of vinegar added to it. The standard rule is 1 cup of milk to 1 teaspoon of vinegar.
- I substituted the barley flour for rye flour and it was equally tasty.


Anonymous said...

I love breads that use buttermilk. This is great Bonnie, another terrific creation!

Alanna said...

These are the round, flat loaves with the holes in the center to hang from the rafters, kylla? Kiva!

We must 'cook together' from B's book some time!

Pille said...

We've got them, too, only that they're called 'odrakarask':)
I've heard a lot about that book by Ojakangas, but haven't read it. Would you recommend buying it?

Ivonne said...

I love it! Happy Bread Day!

Bonnie said...

Jen - I love buttermilk as well, but I love the substitution I found for buttermilk almost as much - buttermilk is not particularly common here :(

Alanna - Yes! Some of them have the round holes in the centre! So rustic looking aren't they? I'm totally up for a Beatrice day, and perhaps Pille can join in if she gets the book.

Pille - The book has been an excellent resource for me, although the recipes and tastes slightly vary from the foods I remember. Whenever I feel 'homesick' for Finland I usually pull it out and flip through it reading the recipes. The variations are regional I believe, and although there are no pictures in the book it is quite comprehensive. Oh, one other thing, from my recollection the measurements are in US, so you might have to do conversions...

Ivonne - Happy Bread Day to you too!

Brilynn said...

Thanks for putting out a different and traditional Finnish bread recipe, I love seeing new things!

simonetta said...

Bread! Is there anything better when you need confort food? Great recipe Bonnie. Thanks for sharing

Julie said...

This bread looks so good and I would love to try making it. I'm a little confused due to my non-metric American ways. Do you mean "millilitres" as opposed to millimetres for the liquids? Any advice on how best to measure them would be very appreciated! Thank you.

Bonnie said...

Hi Julie,

I'm so silly, thank you for picking up my error. It was simply a mistake on my part - it should be millilitres. Or if you're using cup measures 125 millilitres = half a cup. I'll amend the recipe. Thanks and let me know how you get on!

chanit said...

Hi bonnie
Your Bread looks good !
I've never baked a Bread with barley flour, I'm sure I use it ,after reading your post - thank you ;)

wvdesigndiva said...

Hi. I'm going to try this. But have you heard of a bread that has a yeast starter that is similar to this? It is very sour and I love it when I am in Finland.

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