Hapanleipä | Finnish Sour Bread

Hapanleipä | Finnish Sour Rye Bread

There is a rich history of breads in the Nordic region- it is what we lived off for centuries and it’s still a big part of our lives. In Norway we tend to need at least one bread meal a day- we’re abit quirky that way.

Finnish Rye Bread varies from other Nordic breads because they use coarse rye flour- whereas others often tend to use a mixture of several flours. Hapanleipa is often made as a flat cake rather than the typical loaf or bread tin.

This Finnish Rye Bread has a typical hole in the middle- this was used to hang it up in the roof in the old days as a way to preserve them and keep rats away from eating it all. This is also a sour kind of rye bread, where they spend several days making a sourdough- ish mixture. This gives for a subtle yeast- taste in the bread which makes it rather recognizable.

The traditional recipe only calls for quality rye flour and salt. More modern recipes includes spices, syrup and perhaps a little wheat flour to obtain some of the properties gluten provides. To sour properly, the flour should be organic and as little processed as possible.

This is a dense rye bread, perfect for salmon, herring or aromatic cheese

Hapanleipä | Finnish Sour Bread

Yield 2 bread


Day 1:

175 ml water

5 g fresh yeast

120 g coarse rye flour

Day 2:

220 g coarse rye flour

330 ml water

Day 3:

330 g coarse rye flour

10 g salt


Day 1:

  1. Mix water and yeast in a bowl.
  2. Add the flour and blend well.
  3. Let sit at room temperature over night, without covering.

Day 2:

  1. Add the rye flour and water to the bowl and mix well.
  2. Cover and leave over night.

Day 3:

  1. Check the dough to make sure you have an active fermentation process going.
  2. If it's frothing and taste fresh and acidic- you've got it!
  3. Add the salt and the rest of the flour and transfer to a food processor or anything that you can knead bread with (you're hands are fine, but it takes a bit of work).
  4. Knead for at least 20 minutes on medium speed.
  5. Cover and let rise until double the size - about 40 minutes.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured work counter and divide into to pieces.
  7. Shape them into round cakes with a hole in the middle - about 4 cm wide.
  8. Cover and let rise once again for around 30 minutes.
  9. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees celcius for 30 - 40 minutes.

Recipe and method : “The Nordic Cook Book” p. 504



  • thesnowwoman
    2 years ago

    This recipe is great! I love the history behind it too.

    • Therese
      2 years ago

      Thanks 🙂 the herb butter is especially good with this bread!

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