finnish rye hardtack (ruisleipa)
2 t dry yeast
2 c warm water
4- 4 1/2 c rye flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
1 1/2 t salt
in a med size bread bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. add 2 c rye flour and stir 50 times in the same direction. sprinkle on the salt and stir well. stir in 2 more cups flour, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. knead 3-4 minutes, dusting with flour as needed. clean out and lightly oil the bread bowl. return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. you can let it sit for longer, but the dough will become stickier and more difficult to work with.
preheat the oven to 425. oil and lightly flour 2 large baking sheets, at least 12 x 18 in.
punch down the dough. divide into 4 pieces. flatten each piece between floured palms, and let rest 2-3 minutes.
gently roll each piece of dough into a round approx. 8 in in diameter, or as large as your baking sheet will accomodate. add flour as nec. to prevent sticking. using a sharp knife, cut out a 2 in circular hole in the center of the bread. transfer the breads to the baking sheets, cover with damp towels or plastic, and let rise for 15- 20 mins.
using a fork, prick the tops of the breads at 1-2 in intervals. bake for 15 min. remove and cool on a rack.
while they are good fresh, these are traditionally made once or twice a year and strung on a cord or poles to dry out completely.