Sign up here for one of our free newsletters to get the latest deals, recipes, how-to articles and much more

Recipe: Finnish Christmas Buttermilk & Rye Bread

Recipe: Finnish Christmas Buttermilk & Rye Bread


9g  osmotolerant yeast
125g water at 28 degrees
20g sugar
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp caraway seeds
500g buttermilk
35g glycerine
100g black treacle
60g candied rainbow peel
10g sea salt
60g softened butter
250g rye flour
500g strong white flour

Joululimppu is a typical Finnish Christmas bread. Irresistibly moist from the buttermilk, this bread is dark and nutty from the rye flour, sweet from the treacle and fragrant from the toasted fennel and caraway seeds. It's not difficult to make and will fill your kitchen with the most delicious Nordic flavours as it bakes. This is one of those recipes when a Cloche is worth its weight in gold, not just because you get a beautiful even bake, but with the treacle in this bread it is easy to burn, so the even heat distribution protects the bread as it bakes which gives you a perfectly baked loaf. The loaf has both sugar, glycerine and treacle in it so osmotolerant yeast has been used which is better suited to enriched doughs than other yeasts. The glycerine is a wonderful ingredient when added to enriched dough as it makes the dough softer and reduces the drying effect as the buns age.

Makes a 1.6kg loaf (use the Panibois 27cm basket, or 2 1kg round cane baskets)


Step 1 Mix the yeast

Dissolve the yeast in the water, stir in the sugar. Leave for 10 minutes.

Step 2 Toast the seeds

Toast the caraway and fennel seeds lightly for 2 minutes and then set to one side

 Step 3 Warm the buttermilk

Warm the buttermilk, glycerine, and treacle to 33C.

Step 4  Mix the liquids

Stir in the warmed buttermilk mix, peel, spices, salt and butter

Step 5 Add the flour

Stir in the rye flour stir well then add the strong white flour, stir well. Leave for 10 minutes.

Step 6 Knead

Turn out onto a lightly floured table, knead for 5 minutes then shape into a ball.

Step 7 Rise

Place the dough seam side up into a banneton then leave to rise until almost doubled. (This can vary, but as a guide it will take about 1 – ½ hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen).

Step 8 Bake

Just before the dough has doubled in volume, preheat your oven to 220C and place your La cloche inside. Once it is at temperature remove your cloche from the oven carefully, set the lid to one side and dust the base with polenta or rye flour. Turn the dough into the cloche; score with a grignette,  then replace the lid.  Put the cloche into the oven and turn the temperature down to 200C. Bake for 1 hour.  Test by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean then the bread is done.

Step 9 Cool 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the cloche base. Transfer to a wire rack to further cool.  Once cool store in a cotton bread bag.