The Great Estonian Rye Bread Challenge

During our recent visit to Estonian capital Tallinn, one of the first local foods we encountered was the dense, dark, flavorful rye bread that so enthralled us that a bag of it ended up in the suitcase and we purchased a cookbook in order to enjoy it at home. Today, the day has come to start out on the journey to recreate that awesome bread. Recipe #1 comes from the wonderful, informative book “Estonian National Cuisine”, which not only features a wealth of cultural and historical information, as well as lovely pictures, but also some oddly translated ingredients about which I’m not 100% sure. The recipe I chose is for “Three-Day Bread” because it takes that long to make the sourdough starter that gives this bread its distinct taste.

The original recipe calls for 6 to 7 kilos of rye flour. If you’ve ever SEEN that much flour at once, you realize you may need to take your shapen loaves and head for the village bakery to have it finished, so we ended up using one-sixth of the given amount of everything. It barely fit into our largest mixing bowl. At this moment, the starter mixture is resting comfortably in the cold oven, waiting to be fed with additional flour; something that needs to be done every 3 to 4 hours for the next three days. After all the remaining flour has been added, all that goes into it is a bit of sugar and some caraway seeds, and off we are to the bakery, uh, baking pan. I’m very much hoping this will come out edible; my experience with sourdough is fairly limited.

While we wait, if any of you have recipes for bread to share, send ’em on over! They may make it into our test kitchen soon.

For my reader in Japan, there is some news on the Renner front: firstly, the trailer for Mission Impossible is available now, and our man looks both delish and deadly. Also, rumor has it he’s thisclose to signing on for a film co-starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, which no doubt will lead to rumors about his romantic involvement with the beautiful French woman. Of course, there hasn’t been anything further on this supposed project since June 1st, so who knows.

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