Chef Simo's gorgeous, rustic loaves and rounds on display.
Last month, O and I were invited by Honest Cooking to attend a Finnish bread baking class as part of the the NORTH Food Festival here in NYC. We were so excited - not only were we already fans of Nordic Breads, introduced to us a couple of years back at New Amsterdam Market; but any chance to get our hands dirty, we welcome!
Being married to a Swede, I thought I had a good grasp of what Finnish bread might be like, both flavor- and texture-wise. Luckily, we both ended up learning a whole lot more about ruis, or rye bread, and how it differentiates itself from its Scandinavian counterparts. Chef Simo Kuusisto taught us that the 100% rye content of his organic bread makes it extremely healthful and friendly to those with dietary restrictions, including diabetics and gluten-sensitive folks. In terms of flavor, it's richer, earthier and denser - with a pretty long shelf life to boot, if sliced and frozen right away.
During our baking exercise, we had the luxury of enjoying fresh ruis Chef Simo had prepared a bit earlier (with proofing time, our little loaves would take a lot longer to prepare than the class time allowed). Chewy and perfect, topped with Scandinavian classics like gravlax and its accompanying sauce, as well as sharp cheese, cucumber and dill. I could have eaten these open-faced snacks all afternoon.
Nordic Breads sells online and delivers across the country (and farther!), but if you're in the NYC-area, swing by Union Square Market - they're there at least once or twice a week (Fridays and Saturdays, I believe).
Chef Simo demos ruis bread baking techniques - low gluten means no need to knead!
Putting our lovelies into a very low warm oven to proof.
Simple and beautiful open-faced snacks.
Impatiently checking on our loaves - are they ready? No. Just starting to crackle...
Finally! The gorgeous crags appear and chef deems them ready for the oven!
Our friend Ellen hard at work. | Hot loaves cooling off.
Don't be alarmed at how dark ruis gets - the deep, rich colors adds massive flavor to the end result.