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Back with Bread: Finnish Molasses Rye Bread (siirappipölkky)

It’s been a while and a lot of things have happened since I last posted. I moved to a new space, a lot closer to my friends and have really been enjoying it here. Even during my hiatus I’ve still been on the hunt to discover new recipes. I love sage pesto I made and recently made another similar batch.

A couple months ago I tried my hand at baking this bread recipe I found. I discovered an old finish cookbook called “The Finnish Cookbook,” by Beatrice A Ojakangas. It’s a neat book first published in 1964 that I found in a used bookstore while I was visiting Boston. I had tried my hand at making one of the recipes before (rose hip soup) and stumbled across this recipe for Molasses Rye bread, aka siirappipölkky, which apparently means syrup bar according to google translate. I can’t find anything about this bread recipe online, however recipes and language evolve over time and since this book is from almost 60 years ago, it’s safe to say that people in Finland might not be using this term or even the recipe anymore.

I know, I know, not the prettiest looking bread or picture. It was a bit darker than I was expecting. I also tried to cook the edges a bit by adding a bit of butter, hence the lighter white color on top. It was a cooked crust, but the inside was soft. Very good hot with some butter.

I’m not the best baker, but its always fun to bake a loaf every now and again. The recipe calls for 4 cups white flour and 3 cups rye flour. Rye flour was a little difficult to get, but I was able to find some at my local Whole Foods. Surprisingly the hardest thing to find was light molasses (or dark corn syrup). I ended up accidentally buying dark blackstrap molasses which was a mistake because online sources said not to use it as a substitute. The jar has been sitting in my cabinet since. My friend who lives nearby actually had some molasses I could use, so I borrowed the jar. You only need one cup, so luckily I was fine with the half jar I got.

The recipe calls for 2 packets of yeast, which seems overkill. I ended up dissolving the yeast in 2 cups of warm water. The recipe calls for stirring in the salt with the yeast and water mixture, however I would wait until the yeast is proofed next time. Mix the water, yeast and molasses together and wait for proofing. Once proofed, mix in the salt, then stir together the wet ingredients and the flour. I have a stand mixer, so I ended up throwing everything into the bowl with the dough hook and turning it to the lowest setting for several minutes before letting it rest. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit of water until it has a dough like consistency. Then let it rest for 30 minutes until it’s increased in size. Punch it down and start kneading for a bit. Add it to a bowl with some oil or butter, and cover to let it double.

Put it in a bread pan and bake at 350F for 1-1 1/2 hours. You could also decide to go for smaller loaves but I wanted to have a bigger load for slicing. If you want a crispier and more well done bread, you can cook for 50 minutes at 375F. Once it’s out of the oven, check the doneness in the middle of the bread by poking it with a skewer.

Let it rest until cool and then slice and serve. Brush with butter while it’s still hot. I made the mistake of skimming the recipe and brushing it with butter before putting it on the oven. Rookie mistake and caused the crust to cook much faster, causing the outside to get to a much darker color.

Honestly the flavor was great, it’s on the denser side but had the molasses flavor. It’s a good appetizer; tasty with butter. With a bit more practice, I would make this again.

My forays into baking have gone better, but I will continue to challenge myself. For those interested in the recipe, see above, and see the list of ingredients below.

Mise en place:

2 packages bread yeast

2 cups warm water

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup (not sure where to find dark corn syrup)

4 cups white flour

3 cups rye flour

I really enjoyed this fun bread. Here you can see a cross section slice with some cinnamon honey pan cooked pears with melted Brie. A great way to enjoy a slice of molasses bread!

I have more planned for this blog so stay tuned! Let me know if there are any recipes I should try, or if you do end up making this molasses bread recipe.

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