Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

This handsome, toothsome loaf comes from the breathtakingly productive Penny. (Get to know her.) Penny says this rye is “the stuff I'm used to. Finns call it ruislimppu. It was meant to keep for extended periods of time. Finns baked it into flat rings that were hung on rods from the rafters to dry. My husband doesn't like the hard, dense bread, but I love the nutty crust and the deep flavor.”

“This is one of those mother-of-all-eyeballed kinds of recipes,” Penny says. “The amounts, as written in the Michelin-star chef Hans Välimäki's book Mummola, in Finnish, should be treated as guidelines.” We’re happy to have Penny translate since our Finnish isn’t quite up to snuff.

» 2 cups water
» 2 cups plus 3 cups rye flour
» 2 slices of sourdough rye loaf

» motherdough (above)
» ¼ cup water
» 1 tsp yeast
» 1 tsp salt
» 3 cups rye flour

PHASE 1: To make the motherdough from scratch, remove the crust from the rye bread and crumble the slices into a bowl. To that, add 2 cups water and 2 cups rye flour. Cover with a towel and leave out at room temp for at least 24 hours, until it's bubbly and smells a little sour. In a drafty home, a good place to incubate dough is in the cupboard above the fridge or in the microwave (on off) overnight.

PHASE 2: When the motherdough is bubbly, dissolve the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and mix that into the motherdough along with 3 cups rye flour and 1 tsp salt. Knead until the dough is no longer supersticky. Let the dough rise until it has doubled. At this stage, you'll want to save a small ball of dough as the new motherdough. (It will survive nicely in plastic wrap in the freezer. Just thaw it the day before baking, feed it some flour and water, and continue from phase 2.)

Once the dough has doubled, split it in two and form two round loaves. Cover and let rise for an hour. Sprinkle a little flour on top and prick holes in the loaves with a fork or graze the top with a knife for a pattern similar to the one pictured. Bake at 400ºF for up to an hour. The loaves are done if they sound hollow when you knock on the bottom.

“You can cover a ham with this type of dough for Christmas,” Penny says. Or try kalakukko: “a pile of small vendace, a type of fish, wrapped in lard and baked inside rye bread—similar to Cornish pastries in that it's an easy, portable lunch from a time when leak-proof containers were a rarity.” And then there are Karjalan piirakka, or Karelian pastries, made with one-third of the wheat flour and filled with rice porridge. “Karelian housewives took to the pasta mill for this, as the crust is best really thin,” Penny advises. “These are served warm with a mixture of mashed eggs and butter—a common party food.”

Did someone say “party”? We’re there. And if you try Penny’s recipe, let us know how it goes by posting a comment below.

With many farm shares winding down for the season, we’ve put the CSA Cookoff to bed for the year. Look for it again in late spring, sprouting along with the arugula and asparagus. In the meantime, meet HOME Cooked, a winter-friendly recipe file that revels in the earthier corners of the fridge and the pantry. Think root veggies and baked goods. We’ll post a recipe each week, featuring dishes from you. Don’t be shy. Share the goods. Especially the baked goods.

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