Inside BREAD Magazine: Meet Jarkko Laine the Micro-Editor (and Try his Finnish Rye Recipe!)

Bread Magazine - Rye

For years I have been reading some deeply inspiring bread heroes’ interviews on BREAD Magazine. And now, finally, I had the chance of interviewing the soul behind the magazine, Jarkko Laine.

The hero of heroes.

I don’t know about you, but when I read a book I like, I become insanely interested in finding out who is this person behind the book. I wish I could have interviewed my gone Stendhal, Svevo, Leopardi or London (to name only the first favorite authors that come to my mind), cause I rejoice being able to “figure out” the person behind a great creative endeavour.

And having founded a high quality specialized magazine, and carried on three whole years of regularly published issues to feed the enthusiasm of a growing international group of bread lovers is, without a doubt, a truly great creative endeavour.

He has been so nice to accept to be interviewed, and his answers were just as thourough, honest, and relevant as all of the articles he has written or selected so far for BREAD Magazine.

Jarkko defines BREAD a micro-magazine, a magazine for a very small crowd and run on simplified premises (mostly a one-man magazine, until recently). How perfectly this fits to the growing concept of the micro-baker and her/his micro-bakery. Both away from the mainstream of industrial production and mass-media. As an independent thinker, I cheer for anything that is micro-thought and micro-implemented. So here a few questions to our successful micro-editor, Jarkko Laine.

jarkko laine

 

We (us passionate BREAD Magazine readers) know you live in Finland, but I also know, from one beautiful account of yours, of your African upbringing. Could you tell us more about it and about what bread memories you carry from it?

I was six years old when my family moved to Senegal. My theologian parents felt a calling for missionary work and were sent to help translate the Old Testament to one of the country’s languages, Serer. Naturally, the family tagged along. The nine years we spent in Senegal were a happy time for my brothers and me and, as I’ve come to realize later, prepared a fertile soil for my love for bread to grow in. Our family always had a fresh baguette for breakfast, and my daily task as the eldest of the four boys was to go and buy the bread from the bread kiosk just around the corner.

As far as I knew, there was only one kind of bread in Senegal at the time: a baguette with a crumb soft like cotton and a thin, crispy crust. It was bread that you had to eat within a couple of hours from baking, but I loved it.

Jarkko in Senegal

 

Last year, I had a chance to take my wife and two sons to Senegal on a two-week vacation. The trip was memorable, and I also got to taste the bread again. This time, I looked at the bread quite differently than I did back in my childhood. Instead of passionately declaring it the best bread ever, I was more critical. The bread is far from healthy: at a bakery I visited with my father, the bakers proudly showed me their bags of bread additives—the secret ingredient. But it’s still the same bread I loved as a boy. And it still brings back all those happy memories from my childhood when my friends and I used to top it with thick layers of chocolate and peanut spread at school breaks.

I realized that there’s much more to bread than just the question of whether it’s “real,” healthy, artisan, or whatever. Bread is a vehicle for memories, and thus bread that might fail in all of the “good bread” tests can actually be one of the dearests.

 

Jarkko has kindly shared these videos with us. In the first one, a 12-year old Jarkko instructed his father to film him in his daily task of bringing bread to his family. And now he brings BREAD to us, how amazing is this?

 

The second video is a stunning document of how bread is made nowadays in a typical Senegal’s bakery. With some technical aid, simplicity and much love.

 

How does being Scandinavian, and Finnish in particular, influence your approach to bread? (Is bread central in Finnish cuisine? What early memories do you have regarding Finland and bread?)

The love for white bread that I learned in my childhood in Senegal makes me a bit of an oddity in Finland. That said, I’m sure the Finnish bread heritage is there too…

Most of Finland’s history has been that of poverty and self-sustainability. Compared to the rest of Europe, Finland was industrialized rather late and for a long time, most of the society were farmers running their own small farms. And so, as cheap food, bread always played an important part in their lives—at some point, rye flatbreads were even used as plates!

There’s a popular saying in Finland that also shows the important role bread has had in our ancestors’ minds: “Leipä miehen tiellä pitää,” loosely translated “Bread keeps a man on his path,” they used to say.

There are different bread traditions in different parts of Finland. However, what’s common to all of them is the importance of rye. I think if you ask anyone in Finland, they’ll tell you that even though these days we eat all types of bread, it’s the 100% rye sourdough that is the most Finnish of them all.

 

rye

This bread is also the one that I think of when I look back to my bread related memories in Finland. When we still lived in Senegal, we came back to Finland every summer to meet relatives and to keep us children from forgetting our roots. It was on these vacations that I got to eat a ring-shaped flattish rye bread (called reikäleipä) at my grandparents’ place. According to my parents, and my grandparents, the bread they usually had, Eloleipä, was the best reikäleipä there was.

In all honesty, I can’t really say I remember the taste, but I remember eating it and how it seemed a big deal to everyone. So, I suppose it must have been very good…

 

What made you decide to start making bread?

My bread making—actually, like most of the things I do—started out of curiosity. I had always loved bread in all of its forms and I wanted to see if I could make something as good as what was sold in the stores.

See, I didn’t think there was anything especially wrong with the commercial bread. I wasn’t manifesting against the quality of bread or trying to create a healthier product for my family. I just wanted to see if I could make it myself.

My first bread project was to make Finnish sourdough rye bread. That’s how Finnish I am, after all!

I had read about the bread and sourdough online and found the idea of slowing down to focus and really be present in making a slow fermented bread inspiring. So I got to work. The bread that came out of my experiments was far from perfect, but I was happy and excited and wanted to try it again.

 

Who were your early inspirations/masters in bread?

Pretty soon after those first bread making experiments, I realized that even though I enjoyed the process of making rye bread, that wasn’t the bread my family or I wanted to eat every day.

So I went looking for ideas on what else I could bake.

The first book I found was one written by Jan Hedh, which at the time, I think, was pretty much the only book about bread making that had been translated into Finnish. This was in 2007 or 2008.

I tried some of Hedh’s recipes with decent results, but the book and its style didn’t quite match how I liked to work. Hedh was saying you need a KitchenAid or other mixer to do the heavy lifting for you. I was working by hand. Maybe because of this, his recipes were quite a bit on the dry side and I had trouble mixing his doughs.

That’s when I found my second bread-making book: Richard Bertinet’s Dough. Now, while technically the second book, I often think of Dough as the first as it’s the one that really got me hooked. In a way that Hedh never did, Bertinet made great bread feel like something anyone can achieve. His recipes were easy to follow. They didn’t require any extra equipment. And the man is just so friendly. And so, eventually, I ended up baking every recipe from the book!

Because of this, Richard Bertinet is still at the top of my list of inspirations and masters in bread making. I was so honored when he agreed to be interviewed in my very first issue!

As a self-taught home baker, my bread heroes are mostly bakers whose books I have enjoyed and learned from.

After Richard Bertinet, Chad Robertson made a huge impression on me, with his rock star style and the cast iron dutch oven baking method that improved my bread overnight. Robertson also got me excited about sourdough.

Then, there’s every baker I’ve had the honor of interviewing and getting to know through the magazine. They are all such hard working, passionate people that I can’t help but look up to them. Folks like Zack Stern (Zack the Baker) or Raluca Micu, who just went and opened up her own bakery. And the baking community on Instagram and Facebook! Such an inspiration!

sourdough

 

How (and when) did the idea of starting a bread magazine took body in your mind?

In addition to curiosity, the other defining personality trait for me has always been a desire to build my own thing. As a child, I started countless game projects (I don’t think I ever finished any of them), wrote songs, tried to write novels, and so on. I even published a magazine with my brothers and friends.

I studied computer science, became a programmer, got a job (a dream job as a game programmer, I must add). But the desire to do my own thing never left me.

As an avid reader, writing has also always been important to me. So, in many ways, starting the magazine was just a natural step in a process that had started long before I even knew I would become so passionate about bread.

At the same time as I was getting more and more excited about bread, I was also exploring different ways to make writing and publishing a part of how I make my living. I tried different things from blogging to freelance writing. Then, after having baked bread passionately at home for maybe three or four years, I came up with the idea of combining it with my desire to write and see if I could create something cool in the world of publishing.

At the time, I was also a stay-at-home dad, taking some time off from work to stay at home with my two boys. It felt like a big victory and I wasn’t ready to let go of it just yet. So, I decided to keep going: I asked for more time off from work and started the magazine.

I’m still on that road.

 

cover BREAD 2014

 

Did you think there was something missing in the world of bread, and what did you think BREAD Magazine would have added?

To be honest, I didn’t do very much market research before going all in with the magazine. Actually, that’s more or less how I’ve gone with all of my projects so far, for better or for worse. Sometimes, it leads to doing things the hard way, but if anything, it’s never boring.

The discussion in my head when planning to start the magazine went more or less like this:

Hey, I could start a bread making blog!

But there are already lots of good bread making blogs out there. Is there really any reason to put out a new one?

Well… A book would be cool, but I don’t have the credentials or experience for one just yet.

How about a magazine?

Well, that would be cool! But there are already some trade magazines…

Sure, but they’re not global. And they’re not passionate—they’re boring.

Yep, they’re not written for people like me.

Exactly! This one will be different.

But the idea wasn’t born in isolation. There was a writer/publisher named Thom Chambers, who was active online at the time. He published a digital magazine on entrepreneurship and marketing called In Treehouses. Then, he started a new one that spoke directly to me. This publication was called The Micropublisher and it was all about running your own small-scale publishing house.

I knew that was exactly what I was going to build with Bread Magazine. I was going to be a “micropublisher”.

Based on Thom’s writing, I had some ideas on how to go about publishing a magazine. I read some more, but most of all, this was an experiment: I would learn as I go and turn the project into something great. Or I would try it for a while and then be done with it and move to something different.

The experiment continues…

 

Did you have any previous experience in writing/editing?

As I mentioned earlier, reading and writing have been important parts of my life since a young age. But I’ve never studied writing or editing apart from what is taught at school. In the past few years, I’ve been trying to fix this gap on my own by reading books and articles on the topic.

The current focus on writing began in 2007 when I created my personal development blog—only a week before the birth of my firstborn, Oiva.

Since then, in addition to blogging (and the magazine, naturally) I’ve been doing some freelance writing both online and in traditional magazines. Currently, in addition to writing for Bread Magazine, I’m a regular contributor at Tuts+ where I write programming tutorials.

Someday, I hope to find the time to write children’s fiction. But that’s still going to have to wait. For now, I’m just telling silly bedtime stories to my children.

 

Jarkko notebook

 

You are such a proficient writer, who were your masters in style? Or better, what do you think contributed most to your writing skills development?

Thank you, Barbara!

There are many great writers I look up to. One of the most important has been Malcolm Gladwell, whose style of combining a journalistic approach to his topics with storytelling is something I strive to imitate in my own writing. Sam Fromartz is a good example of something similar in the realm of bread-making. I find his book, In Search of the Perfect Loaf, a masterpiece.

In general, though, I think the most important thing I do to keep my writing improving is to read a lot (Since 2009, I’ve set myself the goal of reading at least 52 books per year). And to try and keep the reading material as diverse as possible. For someone whose native language isn’t English, I also think it’s important to read a lot in English (assuming that’s the language you mostly write in).

In addition to books, recently, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the writing on Medium. The site has managed to inspire great writers, both big names and regular folks like you and I.

 

Tell me 3 things that make a good article in general.

Wow, this is a big question! And a very interesting one.

Starting from the most important, I think an article needs to be relevant.

It needs to speak to the reader and answer some need of his or her. Now, the need can be something very specific, like learning how to attach a string to your guitar. But it can also be something subtler. Maybe it’s just basic human curiosity. A need to know what’s going on in the world. But unless there’s a connection between what the reader needs and what you write, the article will be ignored.

A good article needs to be honest.

I’ve found that this is often one of the hardest things for a writer, myself included. In a culture surrounding a hobby or passion like bread-making, there are always unspoken rules about what to say and think. Many times, you don’t even know you’re repeating the shared beliefs in your writing. But to be interesting, an article needs to go beyond the obvious and sometimes (if necessary), shake some of those core beliefs.

Finally, and this comes down to editing, I must point to the flow of the article. How naturally the text flows is what separates decent or good writing from great writing, in my opinion.

When reading a great article, you never need to stop and re-read a sentence because you didn’t quite get what it said. This can only be achieved by going through the text again and again and changing word choices, sentence lengths, the order of how you present your thoughts until the text flows naturally.

I’m still not perfect at any of these and often rush past the final rounds of editing, but it’s good to have high standards to strive for.

 

Now tell me three things that make a good bread article.

In most ways, a bread article is an article just like the rest and so the three key principles from above all apply.

But as bread-making is a craft, I think most readers expect to learn something practical from the articles. This is something I’ve learned over the years of working on Bread Magazine: people tend to enjoy articles that give them something new to try out—be it in their baking or the business of bread. So, in every article, I try to find a way to include something that makes the reader walk to his or her kitchen and pull the bags of flour out of the cupboard.

Related to this, in bread making, there’s a lot of folklore that just isn’t always founded on anything but hearsay. This is natural, as the craft developed over thousands of years, well before the rise of modern science. But take for example the process of creating a sourdough starter and all the different ideas surrounding it: some say the yeast cells come from the air, some say you need to add some old bread to get the fermentation going, and so on. In situations like this, it’s good to try to find the facts instead of spreading untested or even false ideas.

I’m sure I haven’t always been successful with this one, but I still think it’s an important goal.

Finally, I’m not sure if this is related to only bread-making articles, but when planning for articles for the magazine, I always try to find a human point of view.

Bread is about community and culture as much as it’s about nutrition and so I want to convey that along with the technical and practical knowledge. Just like bread can bring people together, I hope a good article on bread will do the same.

cover BREAD 2015

 

Why in your opinion is important to share our passions with others?

As humans, we (yes, even us grumpy and solitude-loving Finns) are a social species and we thrive in communities. Sharing the things we are passionate about comes naturally to us. It brings us joy.

Sharing our passions is also a great opportunity for learning. When we share ideas with each other, we will likely come up with new and better ones. In sharing what we’ve learned, we all improve at what we do.

If you are passionate about something, I’m pretty sure you’re not the only one. There’s always someone else out there who shares your passion, even if it’s for something as obscure as fermentation. If you know of each other, that brings both of you joy, a sense of relief that you’re not alone with your wacky ideas.

 

What is the advantage of digital communication?

I think the biggest advantage is that digital communication has given us means to build viable, lively communities around the most obscure things that in the old world would have been outside of most people’s reach.

Take Bread Magazine and the bread making community for example.

I know four, maybe five bread heads from the Helsinki area (all of whom I’ve met online). Hardly a group of people big enough to keep the magazine or for that matter the idea of baking your own bread alive. But the community that gathers over the internet is much bigger.

When we can all come together without the restrictions set by physical boundaries, we’re big enough to do big things—and maybe even to support a bread-making magazine.

So, Bread Magazine is definitely a product of the digital age. It couldn’t exist without the internet.

jarkko instagram

 

How much your previous training in IT and graphic design helped in BREAD Magazine success?

Actually, I don’t have training in graphic design, other than the design books, blogs, and movies I consume for fun (as said earlier, I’m interested in a lot of different things).

IT is another story: I started young and considered myself a programmer already back in grade school. Then, I almost completed a Master’s degree in Computer Science (I still might finish it one day, who knows…) before leaving to work as a game programmer.

I think this background has been crucial to the magazine’s success so far: being computer savy has enabled me to work with all kinds of tools and to choose the right ones to go with. Also, maybe even more importantly, my software development background made it natural for me to build my own tools for selling the magazine.

This is a benefit that not many writers have, and so, this year while publishing Bread Magazine, I’ve also been working on a project to make my tools available for a larger group of publishers. For this, together with two other people, I’m in the process of getting a startup off the ground.

 

What is the aspect that you like most of your multiple roles in BREAD Magazine?

This is a tricky question for me to answer as I like most of the roles, all in different ways.

The only trouble at the moment is that I’m doing too much and so I never get to spend enough time on any single one of the roles. This is slowly changing, thanks to you and the other great bakers and writers who have been giving their time and efforts to Bread Magazine this year. I feel that making the magazine into more of a team effort is the right way to go.

But if I have to choose, my two favorite parts are research and editing. I enjoy listening to bakers telling their stories. It’s amazing how much you can learn from their experiences. And I also love shuffling words back and forth whether it’s my own text or someone else’s. Looking for the perfect flow.

The moment in between where I’m trying to get started and write the first words is the hardest and most demanding for me.

 

How do you combine this ambitious project with the rest of your life (how do you do it, man, we know you are a super-hero, any tip to us mortals)?

Haha! Most days, I don’t see myself as a superhero. Quite the contrary…

If anyone, then my wife is the superhero in our family. She works a 9 to 5 job as a school psychologist, so that’s a good backup for my crazy experiments!

My superpower, on the other hand, is my stubborn faith in my ability to do anything. When put like this, it sounds presumptuous, but that’s not how I mean it. Most people could do more than they believe they can. My brothers are the same: we’re always jumping into things without questioning whether we are qualified or not. If we aren’t, we’ll just take a bit longer and learn as we go.

Like I often say in the magazine, practice is what makes you perfect. If you don’t know how to do something, take your time and learn to do it.

Also, don’t give up. Chris Guillebeau said it well in his manifesto, 279 Days to Overnight Success: “Overnight success usually requires more than one night. In my case, I worked on it every night (and day) for at least 279 days.”

Bread Magazine has been growing slowly, and business-wise, it’s still far from perfect. But I’m not planning to give up just yet.

jarkko laine

 

How do you see the future of BREAD magazine (any wish)?

This is a great question that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As the year nears its end, I need to think about 2016: will there be another year of Bread Magazine, how many issues, what will it be about, and so on?

I don’t have all the answers in the short term yet, but in the long term, I think the magazine still has a strong future in front of it. I want to make this the magazine for bread lovers around the world. I want bakers both at homes and in small bakeries to feel a sense of ownership, a feeling that this is not just a magazine but our magazine.

I think the key towards this goal is in teamwork and getting more people involved.

Adding more content and community features on the website is another part of the puzzle that I’m hoping to improve soon:  there could be subscribers-only content, courses, and other material that will help people get better at their bread making no matter at what level they are.

I’m also always open to new ideas…

 

And how do you see the future of bread with these contrasting tendencies towards bread renaissance on one side and bread ostracism (gluten-free/low-carb diets) on the other side?

I’m an optimist, and I think bread still has a bright future. The rise of ancient grains that you have so beautifully reported both on your site and in Bread Magazine is a great sign for the future. Also, sourdough and slow fermentation techniques are becoming more and more mainstream.

At least here in Finland, the low-carb movement has turned out to be more or less a fad, and I have the feeling that the same will happen with the rise of gluten-free products soon as well.

That said, I’ve been thinking about this… Am I saying these things just because I have some of my own livelihood tied to bread (just like a priest cannot preach against his or her religion)? What if the low-carb or anti-gluten people are right?

At the moment, I think I’m not wrong to say they aren’t.

And even if there was some truth to these claims, I think there’s much more to bread than carbs. Bread is culture and tradition. Things that we’re not ready to give up anytime soon.

senegal bakery

 

What does it take to make good bread? How would you define, right now, good bread?

Good bread is bread that is made without sparing time. I don’t think this is a sourdough versus yeast question: some types of bread are better made with yeast (as long as the baking process has been slow). That said, more often than not, the best bread is naturally fermented.

Also, great bread—this is more of an emotional point of view than hard science—is bread that is made by hand. It’s bread where you can see the baker’s touch. Because, as I said above, bread is more than nutrition. It’s also a beautiful object that is pleasing to the eye.

Oh, that also means it’s got to have great crust! Dark. Almost burnt, but not quite.

 

Could you describe your current favorite loaf? (What is the bread that you enjoy eating most, nowadays?)

My favorite is still the most basic of white sourdoughs. I keep trying different recipes and there are many great ones, like say, a nice Finnish rye bread. But I always come back to the basics.

I play with the hydration, changing it a bit at every bake. Sometimes, I throw in some other flours in addition to my favorite organic white flour. But it’s more or less the same bread that I’ve been making for many years now with subtle variations every time.

jarkko bread

 

And which are your wife’s and kids’ favorites instead?

This is actually funny, and a little sad at the same time.

My wife and kids are so used to my sourdoughs that when they pick a loaf of bread as an extra treat, they buy the basic sandwich loaf from the store! Then they spread jam or honey or chocolate spread on it and eat it for the weekend breakfast.

The rest of the week, they eat my bread. So, I guess it’s alright.

 

The last BREAD Magazine issue of 2015 will be out in a couple of weeks.  Thanks a lot for reading and I hope you will join the discussion.

And here a 100% sourdough rye recipe inspired to the Finnish tradition to help you keep bread-ing!

Finnish Rye Ring Bread – Reikäleipä (by Jarkko)

rye ring bread

 

Day 1 – FIRST DOUGH

– 50g ripe sourdough starter

– 200g whole-grain rye flour

– 500g water

 

Day 2 – SECOND DOUGH

– all the first dough

– 300g warm water

– 680-730g whole-grain rye flour

– 15g salt

 

INSTRUCTIONS

The traditional way of making the 100% rye sourdough starts with some dried sourdough starter—or more precisely, old dough from the previous bake that has been left to dry on the walls of a wooden dough bowl. When working this way, you’d start by hydrating the dried starter by pouring all of the water in the recipe in the container. Then, you’d add flour gradually as the fermentation goes on.

I doubt that you have dried rye sourdough in your kitchen. I don’t.

That’s why, when I started developing my version of this rye bread recipe, I decided to make it such that I can make it using the basic sourdough starter I use for my everyday bread making. I think the result tastes and looks about just as good as any rye bread you’ll find in Finland.

 

DAY 1, MORNING – Building the starter

  1. Refresh your sourdough starter, preferably using rye flour. I usually keep my starter at 100% hydration (it’s normally all wheat), so I do the refresh also at that ratio. However, I don’t think this makes a huge difference for the bread’s success.
  2. Cover the refreshed starter and leave it at room temperature to ferment.

 

DAY 1, EVENING (about 10 P.M. or so) – FIRST DOUGH

  1. Create a batter-like (like a pancake batter, quite liquid) pre-dough using your sourdough starter, most of the water, and some whole-grain rye flour (see ingredients for first dough)

At least here in Finland, the coarseness of the rye flour varies quite a bit. The differences in the flour have an impact on the final dough, so I suggest you experiment with your recipe a bit, varying the amount of flour according to how the final dough feels and find the perfect formula for your flour of choice.

  1. Whisk the batter to make sure every lump of flour is incorporated. Then, cover the dough with a cloth and leave at room temperature. The longer the fermentation, the stronger the taste, but in my experience, roughly 8 hours has been a good time.

rye batter

 

DAY 2, morning – SECOND DOUGH

  1. The second morning, continue by adding more ingredients into the mixture from day 1 (see SECOND DOUGH ingredients).

Rye flour is low in gluten, which means kneading won’t make much difference. Instead, just mix the ingredients well to incorporate all flour. Then leave the dough to rest for a few hours (2-4 hours or until it has almost doubled).

  1. When the dough looks ready, flip the bowl and pour the dough onto a floured work surface. An all-rye dough is very sticky, so make sure to flour the table a bit more generously than you feel would be right.
  2. Cut the dough into four equal sized pieces.
  3. Shape the pieces of dough into balls. As I just mentioned, rye dough is sticky, so you’ll need to be careful when shaping it. You also don’t want to use too much flour or the dough will become heavy.

In 2012, when I first visited Viipurilainen kotileipomo, a family run bakery in Lahti, Finland, the baker brothers let me try to shape a rye bread of my own. I was nervous, and so I used a lot of flour while also working on the dough for too long. When the loaves shaped by the bakers were ready for baking, mine still had hours to rise.

The trick is to touch the dough as little as possible. At my visit to the Avikainen bakery in Helsinki this September, the baker, Jenni Avikainen, told me what her father had taught her, “make the bread jump.” That tip works very well: Instead of the typical way of folding dough to its middle, just lightly throw the dough in the air while rotating it a bit using your floured hands. After a few turns, the bread already has a ball-like shape. (Don’t try to make it perfect. It’s better to have a loaf that isn’t quite the perfect shape than one that has been worked too hard.

  1. Place the ball of dough on the work surface, flour your hand again, and placing your hand on the top of the ball, rotate your hand clockwise for a little while. You’ll notice a cone start to form. When that happen, take the loaf, flip it over so that the tip of the cone points up, and place it on a baking sheet. You can also use a well-floured couche, but I find the piece of paper is much easier to slide into the oven—as you remember, the dough is sticky.
  2. Repeat for the remaining three pieces of dough.
  3. Gently flatten the loaves with floured hands. Try to flatten the center more, leaving the edges a bit higher.
  4. Punch a hole in the middle of each flat loaf. For a traditional round shape, a glass is good—or maybe a round cookie cutter if you have one. If you like, you can also get creative and use some other shape; I like the star shape in the pictures. A heart shape is also nice.
  5. Cover and leave the shaped loaves to rise for some time. I tend to wait for maybe two hours, preheating the oven to 275°C (with a baking stone in) while waiting, but it really depends on how active your starter is. At Avikainen, I saw the bread loaded into the oven already after maybe 10 minutes of rest.
  6. When the bread is ready to bake, slide the flatbreads onto the baking stone (two at the time). Decrease the temperature to 250°C and bake for 30 minutes or until the bread has a nice, dark color.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and eat with butter and some nice cheese. If you want to be totally Finnish, pour yourself a glass of milk to go with the bread.

finnish rye

Note: All pictures by Jarkko Laine and family.

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Barbara Elisi

Hi there! I am the "soul" behind Bread & Companatico. My main interest is the preservation of bread tradition and craft, with an eye to health. I hope you are having a good time reading this blog, and please don't be shy to connect with me through comments or emails and do keep on bread-ing! 🙂

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13 replies
  1. Midnite Baker
    Midnite Baker says:

    Very interesting interview about Jarkko and his background. I’ve read bits and pieces of this in Bread magazine, but having a full background history, as helped me understand him and his determination even more. Thank you for writing this article. M

    Reply
    • Barbara Elisi
      Barbara Elisi says:

      Hi Midnight Baker!
      yes, I also wanted to know more about Jarkko, since BREAD Mag is such an amazing work of art! thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Karin Anderson
    Karin Anderson says:

    Nice idea to present Jarkko as the man behind the Bread Magazine. The way how he toasted the bread in Senegal made me smile – I remember doing the same with white breads when there was no toaster around.

    Reply
    • Jarkko Laine
      Jarkko Laine says:

      Actually, the reason my parents originally taught me to do this was as a way to make sure there were no germs or anything left on the bread (as it was bought without any packaging and the bread seller also handled money). I don’t know if that actually made any difference, but the cool thing is that it did actually add a nice smoky touch to the bread’s flavor.

      Nice to hear you did this on purpose just for the flavor 🙂

      Reply

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