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Baking Bread

Baking Bread: Black Bread from Estonia

Europe's digital natives live in Estonia, says EU correspondent Georg Matthes – and explains why with Estonian black bread.

Watch video 02:58

Georg Matthes bakes Estonian black bread

In the multimedia series "Baking Bread," EU correspondent Georg Matthes bakes 28 loaves from 28 EU countries and spices his baking instructions with typical anecdotes about each country. This time he bakes Estonian black bread.



  • 240g wholemeal rye flour
  • 240ml water
  • 30g rye sourdough starter

Dough 1:

  • 360g wholemeal rye flour
  • 390ml hot water
  • 12g salt

Dough 2:

  • 60g pumpkin seeds
  • 80g sunflower seeds
  • 10g salt
  • 150ml hot water

Main dough:

  • 260g wholemeal flour
  • 15g yeast
  • 3 tsp roasted malt
  • 4 tbs sugar beet syrup
  • 3 tsp caraway seeds

You will also need:

  • 8g potato starch
  • 15g butter


And here is how you prepare Must Leib - Estonian rye bread:

1. Mix the rye flour, water and the rye starter and let it ferment for 17 hours until it forms a sourdough.

2. Mix wholemeal rye flour with hot water and salt and leave to stand for 17 hours.

3. Pour hot water over the pumpkin and sunflower seeds or, better still, briefly bring to a boil. Add salt and leave to stand for 17 hours.

4. After the 17 hours are up, pour all three pots together and add all the other main ingredients. Mix thoroughly with an electric hand mixer for about eight minutes using the dough hook.

5. Leave the dough to rise in the bowl for 30 minutes.

6. Grease two baking tins (22 x 11 x 6cm) or one large baking form with butter.

7. Ease the dough into the tins with a spatula. Sprinkle with a little water and smooth down the top. If desired, score a pattern into the top of the bread. Leave to rise for 70-80 minutes.

8. Preheat the oven to 250°C. Place a pan at the bottom of the oven.

9. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and, using a sieve, dust with potato starch. Place in the oven. As soon as the starch begins to brown, remove the baking paper from the oven.

10. Brush the top of the bread with water and place the tin(s) straight into the hot oven. Pour a glass of water into the pan.

11. Bake the bread for 10 minutes at 230°C. Open the oven door to let out some steam. Bake for a further 10 minutes at 230°C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C and bake for another 40 minutes.

12. To ensure the bread is finished, check it with a cooking thermometer. The inside of the bread should be 98°C or hotter. When the bread is cool enough to handle, remove it from the tin.

13. To make the glaze, pour the cold water into a saucepan and mix in the roasted potato starch. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for two minutes.

14. Brush the glaze over the bread and leave the loaf to cool on a wire rack.

15. Ideally leave the bread for a day before slicing it.

Watch video 04:11

Baking step-by-step: Estonian black bread