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Finnish Nettle Rye Bread - Nokkosleipä

The Hirshon Finnish Nettle Rye Bread – Nokkosleipä

  • Author: The Generalissimo


  • Finnish Sourdough starter, per step 1 of instructions
  • 1 DL (Deciliter) fresh nettle leaves (or ½ DL dried, crushed nettle leaves)
  • 5 DL nettle rinse water (if using fresh nettles) or bottled water if using dried
  • 25 g fresh yeast (or 1 package of dry yeast) – TFD prefers fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. wildflower honey mixed with 1 tsp. freshly-ground caraway seed
  • ½ DL neutral-flavored vegetable oil
  • about 4 DL white rye flour
  • about 9 DL malted bread flour


  1. Put 2 Tbsp. sourdough starter (from the fridge or already active is fine), ½ cup bottled water, and enough rye flour to make a thin batter. Cover with a cotton or linen towel and leave on the counter overnight. This is called the sponge.
  2. If using fresh nettles: bring a fairly large pot of water to the boil and dunk the nettles in the boiling water for about 3 minutes. Take the nettles out and put them in a bowl, add about a cup of cold water to the nettles. When the nettles are cool enough to touch comfortably, take them out of the cold water and strain them – keep the cold water, we’re about to use it. Let’s call it nettle rinse water.
  3. Combine 5 DL nettle rinse water (or bottled water), sponge, 1 tsp. salt, a handful of bread flour, and a handful of rye flour. Add spiced honey. Mix well and put it to one side.
  4. Take the fresh nettles that have drained, chop them up as finely or as coarsely as you like. The cooking should have neutralized the sting. Add fresh or dried nettles to the flour/sponge/honey/water mix. Stir vigorously, almost whisking it in as this will help to activate the gluten in the flour and ensure the nettles are well-incorporated into the dough.
  5. Add another three or four handfuls of rye flour, or about ½ cup, and mix well.
  6. Add regular flour by the handfuls, mixing between each addition, until you have a shaggy mess. Put the shaggy mess onto a well-floured board or counter, knead it until no longer shaggy, but instead smooth.
  7. Shape into one or two loaves, then put on a baking sheet. Cover with a towel and leave it alone until doubled in size. This may take an hour or it might take 8, depends on your yeast and many other factors… Some people like to leave it somewhere warm, which is okay, but it also doesn’t enable as nice a texture or as long-keeping a loaf. Just put it somewhere where it isn’t in a draft.
  8. When it’s doubled in size, preheat the oven to 400 F.
  9. While the oven is heating up, use a very sharp knife to carefully cut some lines in the top of the bread.
  10. Bake at 400 for 35 min for the small loaves, or 40 min for one large loaf. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
  11. Take out of the oven, wrap the loaves in a cotton or linen towel and leave at least 12 hours to cool before storing in plastic. Or if you are hungry now, wait at least 10 min before cutting into it.
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