Finnish Christmas Bread - Joululeipä Recipe
Finnish Christmas Bread - Joululeipä
Flavors of Finland
Total time: more than 2 hours

Prep. time: 30 minutes
Rising time : 90 minutes
Baking time: 60 minutes
Oven temperature: 200°C / 400° F

Difficulty: Easy
Chef's Note

Serve with butter or gravlax.

Baker's tip
Since the Whole Spelt flour is low in gluten, it is best to combine this flour with a wheat or rye flour.

Can be frozen.

For 2 or 3 loaves

- 2 Tbsp. dry active yeast
- 125 ml warm water

- 125 ml / 1/2 cup treacle (dark syrup or molasses)
- 1 Tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 Tsp. aniseed or 1/2 Tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 Tsp. dried (but not candied) orange peel, finely chopped
- 500 ml / 2 cups buttermilk or milk
- 300 g rye flour
- 300 g white, unbleached spelt flour or plain wheat flour
- a good pinch of salt
- 65 ml / 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter

Finishing syrup
- 1 Tbsp. treacle or molasse
- 100 ml / 2/5 cup water
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let it stand for 5 minutes in a large bowl until the yeast bubbles.
  2. Toast the caraway and fennel seeds lightly for 2 minutes and then set aside.
  3. In a small pan warm the buttermilk and syrup.
  4. Stir the warmed buttermilk mix into the yeast (1). Add the peel, spices, salt and butter.
  5. Stir in the rye flour; stir well; then add the strong white flour, stir well. You may need more flour - or use less - depending on the type of flour you are using.
  6. Knead the dough until smooth and slightly elastic.
  7. Cover with a tea towel and leave to double in size. If the kitchen is drafty, place the covered bowl in a pan of hot water. 
  8. Divide the dough and form into 2 or 3 round loaves; place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper and leave to rise again for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Prick the breads and bake in 200°C / 400°F for about 50-60 minutes. After 45 minutes brush the bread with the syrup and water mixture (mix the syrup into warm water) and continue to bake until the base of the breads seems cooked.
  10. Leave to cool on a wired rack.
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