Finnis Eeaster Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    1

    loaf

Appears in

Making Bread at Home

Making Bread at Home

By Tom Jaine

Published 2005

  • About

Country life in Finland can never have been easy: the climate sees to that. Small wonder, therefore, that their breads - which used to be predominantly of rye, barley and oats rather than wheat (and even of root crops and potatoes when the corn ran out) - were often designed for long keeping. There is a wonderful variety to them, kept alive by many self-sufficient and conservative home bakers (towns and villages were too sparse for there to be much professional baking trade), ranging from the unleavened barley and oat breads of the north, the softer rye breads of the eastern regions, to the dried discs.

True to type, festivities occasioned their own special loaves, and this Easter loaf made with yoghurt is baked as a hemisphere, a common festive shape, enriched with sultanas and nuts, and sweetened with a malt glaze. Perhaps to mark the fact it was a high-day, the bread was often a wheat and barley loaf, not everyday rye. As this shape is difficult to provide from implements commonly found on one’s pot shelf, I suggest you make it in a well greased 2.4 litre/4 pint saucepan or even a large cake tin, and cut it like a cake.

Ingredients

The Sponge

  • 15 g/½ oz fresh yeast
  • 120 ml/4 fl oz yoghurt
  • 120 ml/4 fl oz hot water at 54°C/130°F
  • 120 g/4 oz unbleached white bread flour

The Dough

  • 60 g/2 oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 120 g/4 oz barley flour
  • 225 g/8 oz unbleached white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sultanas
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons malt extract for glaze

Method

  1. To make the sponge, cream the yeast in the yoghurt and water, then mix in the flour, stirring until smooth. Leave to stand, covered, for 2 hours at 24°C/75°F.
  2. To make the dough, melt the butter with the brown sugar, cool slightly and, off the heat, add the yolks. Stir this into the sponge together with the zests and spice. Mix the flours and the salt and add gradually to make a dough. Knead well on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
  3. Flatten the dough on the table with the palms of your hands and spread the fruit and nuts over the surface. Roll up and knead briefly to spread them throughout the dough. Leave the dough to rise in a bowl covered with oiled clingfilm in a warm place (26°C/80°) for approximately 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  4. Turn out on to the lightly floured work surface and knock back. Mould into a ball, then flatten to the approximate diameter of a greased and slightly warmed saucepan or round tin. It should occupy no more than half the container. Cover the top with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove at 26°C/80°F, out of any draught. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  5. Bake the loaf for about 1 hour, until a fine skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave it to rest in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool. Melt the malt extract and brush it all over the crust.