Traditional Finnish archipelago bread. Recipe by Wind from the North

Traditional Finnish Archipelago Bread

Skip to recipe

This traditional bread from the Finnish archipelago has a sweet, malty and syrupy taste. The bread is known all over Finland as saaristolaislimppu. Archipelago bread is eaten throughout the year but for many Finns it is also an essential part of the Christmas dinner table.

Even though this bread can be enjoyed just with salted butter, Finns often top it with fish or seafood. I like to enjoy my archipelago bread with gravlax or a shrimp mayonnaise. This bread is also a fantastic side dish for fish soups. In the summer, salmon and perch soups are popular here. Finns love ice fishing, and burbot soup is the most popular wintertime fish soup.

The great thing about this bread is that it gets better by time and can be prepared a couple of days beforehand. 🙂 It can also be frozen, which is a good thing considering that this recipe makes a good amount of bread.

The dough fills either three 1 liter bread forms or two 1,5 liter ones.

Saaristolaislimppu - A traditional Finnish bread recipe by Wind from the North

51 comments on “Traditional Finnish Archipelago BreadAdd yours →

    1. Hi Bobbye,
      I use Metric units instead of US customary units on my blog as I’m located in Finland. For converting deciliters to cups, you can use a cooking recipe converter, or type the unit in Google search to let Google convert the units for you (e.g. 2 dl to cups). I use the Google method as I find it to be the fastest way to convert units!
      Happy baking! 🙂

    1. Hi Scott,
      Thank you for the question! Rye beer malts are crushed beer malts that are widely used in Scandinavian cooking, baking and brewing. I added a better description and photos here. 🙂

  1. Hi Veera, regarding to dark syrup; could maple syrup can be used if I don’t find the dark molasses syrup or your dark syrup?

    1. Hi Susana,

      The Scandinavian dark syrup used in this recipe has a strong caramel flavor. Unfortunately I think that the taste of maple syrup is too mild. If you cannot find molasses syrup in the stores, you could try making your own dark syrup from brown sugar and water by boiling them. I will try this out tomorrow to see if this method works and get back to you!

      1. That sounds great Veera! I would like to know all the exact ingredients otherwise I don´t think it would be as good as I see it in your blog, I like to be authentic, so I really appreciate your suggestions and directions to the great bread I see. Thank you so much!

        1. Hi Susana,
          I managed to make dark syrup at home! I made a new post for it so that it will be easy for everyone to find.
          You can find the instructions here.
          With this recipe you’ll be able to create authentic Finnish dishes. 🙂 Happy baking!

  2. I saw this bread on one of the American food shows, and thought I would give it a go. After figuring out the proper measurements, I then had the hunt of finding all the ingredients during Covid. I tired of traipsing all over the country side wearing a mask and just ordered what I couldn’t find from Amazon. My husband and I do like bread but I find really dry. I expected it to be a good hardy bread and that’s what caught my attention. However I am wondering if I didn’t overcook (followed directions) it, or perhaps needed to adjust the wheat flour. Should it be moist at all??

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your comment! Great to hear that Finnish food culture is presented outside of Finland as well. Do you remember which cooking show this was?
      Too bad that the bread didn’t work out as expected, especially when you used so much time in searching for the right ingredients. The archipelago bread is supposed to be firm but not dry, so something must have gone wrong in the process. I always use this recipe for baking my own archipelago breads so I don’t think that reducing flour would solve the problem. I’m trying to come up with possible reasons why the bread didn’t turn out the way it should have.
      Could one of the following be the reason?
      – Could your oven be too hot? (My parents have a hot oven and I never manage to get perfect results when I use it)
      – Could your baking form be too large for the breads (If the dough stays to thin it might dry faster in the oven)
      – Did the dough rise in the bread form before baking? (Could your indoor temperature be too cold? If the dough didn’t rise properly, the breads might turn out too hard)
      – Are the malts of the right kind? (I’ve gotten many questions about the malts and the right ones seem to be tricky to find in the US. They should look like this:

      I would start by increasing the amount of dough per bread form and by slightly reducing the baking time. When you take the breads out of the oven and give them the second syrup-water coating, wrap the breads in baking paper to prevent water from evaporating. If you still decide to give my archipelago bread a try, I would love to hear how it turns out!

  3. Hi Veera,

    wow….I would love to try to make this bread too. It looks so delicious.
    And again I am confused about the Ingredients. Hope you don’t i am asking …
    your ingredients~~
    yeast = Kuivahiiva ?
    wheat bran = Vehnalese? I have Oat Bran at home too = Kauralese.
    but spelt flakes =? and where to get it please?
    sour milk = smetana?

    Haha…I think I must learn all the food and ingredients’ name first before learning how to greet in Finnish…..^^

    Can wait to try this recipe too. i am so into bread, specially Finnish bread, hope I can learn how to bake all the Finnish bread one day. thank you once again.

    1. Hei TY,
      No problem! Good that you ask so that you can get all the right ingredients right away! 🙂
      With yeast I mean active yeast. In Finland it’s sold in small 50gr cubes and simply called “hiiva”. Kuivahiiva is simply dry yeast.
      And yes, wheat brans are vehnälese. Spelt flakes are called “spelttihiutale”, and you might be able to get them from bigger grocery stores (like Prisma or Citymarket for example). I like using organic products from Riihipuoti, and they sell spelttilese as well.
      Also, good that you asked about the sourmilk! It’s called piimä in Finnish and you can find it at the super market milk section. I recommend using the normal sourmilk for this bread, and not the fat-free option.

      I think that once you have all the right ingredients, this is a great recipe to start with when you want to learn to bake Finnish bread. ^^

      1. hihi Veera,

        Honestly….many thx for all your tips and info.
        will definitely let you know how they turn out….

        Can we get Riihipuoti in K or Prisma or other common supermarket? would love to try them too.
        And piimä too? i didn’t notice piimä before in supermarket. may be i looked into the wrong section…or they are not normally selling in Lidl, or Prisma?…I can’t wait to get all the ingredients.

        i live in Helsinki. There has a K & S supermarket in walking distance near home, if not need to drive to a mall that has Prisma , Tokmanni & Lidl to look for the yeast….

        Anyways, i am so grateful that i found your blog^^ thx…..

        1. It seems that you can get Riihipuoti products in several grocery stores in the capital region, here’s a list of Riihipuoti distributors. Yeast and sour milk are sold at every Finnish supermarket. Sour milk is always located next to milk, but you might have to ask the sales people for the fresh yeast because it can be hard to find. Luckily most grocery store workers speak English here. 🙂

          1. i shall try to get everything soon…..
            yes… i am so glad most of the Finnish speaks English…and & helpful too.

            Millions thx for your help again Veera 🙂

  4. Hihi Veera,

    My bread turn out to be very tasty^^ thanks very much.
    Yet the rye beer malt is still a bit hard after baking. i guess may be i should soak it with some of the sour milk first? Anyway my bf think it just taste even better than the one we can buy at store^^ and we just ate half of it after it came out of the oven.such a gooooood bread.thxxxxx


    1. Hi TY!
      Great to hear that you tried the recipe and found it delicious! 🙂 I never soak the beer malts beforehand and haven’t experienced problems with them. I also heard from another person that the bread was somewhat dry after baking, which it shouldn’t be. I’ll make this bread tonight and bake a half of it in my neighbor’s oven in order to see if I get the same result in both ovens. Maybe I need to adjust something in the baking instructions so that everyone can get perfect results right away. I’ll get back to you once I know more! 🙂

      1. Hi Veera,
        Thx for your kind reply again, my bread is so tasty and moist , not hard at all. Just that I used the same rye malt Not the powder form as you shown on your picture on your links. Just that the malt tend to be crunchY … I dunno why …. may be I made an mistake somewhere…. anyways we loooove the taste of the bread^^

        1. Hi TY,
          Awesome, that’s exactly the right kind of malt for this bread. I’ll let you know if I manage to figure out the rye malt thing tonight. 🙂

  5. p.s we did wait a bit until the bread cool down before we cut it. we are trrrrrying to keep it until tomorrow since it should be better 1 or 2 days later. ^^ thx again for your sharing.

  6. Hi again Veera,

    My bf loves this bread so much and he just asked me to make it again.

    But I suddenly think that might be the flour that I used was different from yours?
    So I think I better ask for your advice again for the flour that i should use for this bread. I used ekikoisvehnajauho last time. Shall i use puolikarkea instead for this bread? thanks again.


    1. Hi Ty,
      I’ve used both flours for this recipe and they both work (because the recipe doesn’t require much kneading). 🙂 I also made the bread again to check the malts and mine stay crunchy as well. I think that it works well texture-wise. If you would like them to be less crunchy, you could try first soaking them in the sour milk for a couple of hours.. I’m just not sure how that would affect the texture of the bread. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear if it works out!

  7. Hi Veera,

    i have just made this bread again this morning with puolikarkea. And it turned out to be great too. Thx again \(^^)/

    I did try to soak it in the sourmilk for 15 min before hand, but it turn out as crunchy as before ….yet I started to like the crunchiness . Yet I shall try to soak them a bit longer next time

    I shall soak them longer next time.
    Will definitely let u next time when iImake it. (^^)Y thxxxx

  8. Hello, I can’t find fresh yeast, only dried yeast so what amount should be used, also rye beer malts don’t seem to be available here in South Africa, what could I substitute for that? Thank you.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Yes, you can substitute the fresh yeast with 22 grams of dry yeast! When using dry yeast, mix it with the flour instead of adding it to the warm liquid, and heat the liquid to +42 degrees instead of +37c. When it comes to the Finnish beer malts, I unfortunately think that they cannot be easily substituted with another ingredient. They are dark ground rye malts but I think that they have been roasted to some extent to give them extra flavor (this is just my guess though). The exact brand that I use can be ordered online (it’s called Tuoppi Kaljamallas) but I’m not sure if Suomikauppa is shipping to South Africa. I hope that you manage to find the malts and get to try out this Finnish classic recipe! 🙂

  9. Hi where can I buy finnish archepeligo bread in sydney nsw Australia. Does anyone know.?

    1. Hi Margo! Unfortunately I’m not able to help you out, but maybe someone in the comment section has an answer? 🙂

  10. I’m planning trip to Rovaniemi Finland next month and can’t wait to eat this bread, and buy the ingredients to bring home to California for home baking! I’m reading the reviews and wondering if the dry loaf might have been a conversion issue… I’m reading on the web that DL conversion is different for liquids vs flours. It says 1 DL water = 100 ml (or grams) water, but 1 DL flour = 52.1grams flour! Anyone able to confirm that I should use these two different rules when I convert the recipe?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Thank you for the tip! It’s possible that the unit conversion might have been an issue, as deciliters are used to indicate volume and not weight (unlike grams). 1 dl of water weighs 100 grams, but 1 dl of the all purpose wheat flour that I use for this recipe weighs only 60 grams.
      I live in Rovaniemi, so let me know if you need travel tips for your holiday! 🙂 If you are staying in the city center, you’ll be able to find ingredients for this recipe at K-Supermarket Rinteenkulma. They also have this bread in their selection – if you’re unable to find it, just ask for “Saaristolaislimppu”. Try topping the bread with salted butter, or mayonnaise mixed with with shrimp, salmon roe and fresh dill.

  11. Hi Veera, sorry for the slow reply. I found all the ingredients at the market in Rovaniemi and am finally getting to the baking tonight! I used the conversion link provided by one of the reviewers to convert from deciliters. Will let you know how it goes. Our trip to a Lapland was amazing, and we really loved the beautiful town of Rovaniemi always Christmas, such a joy! All the food & drink was wonderful everywhere we went.

    1. The archipelago bread is fantastic! Mine looks just like your photo and is so unique and delicious! I will definitely make again. Tonight I will serve with smoked salmon on top. I also have made your Karelian Pies twice already. Thank you for posting these recipes so I can continue to enjoy the flavors of your region even after returning back the the USA.

      1. Hi Linda,

        I’m so happy to hear that you liked the recipe, and that the trip to Rovaniemi was a success! You may have tasted blazed salmon during your trip to Rovaniemi. I’ll be publishing a recipe about that soon. 🙂

  12. I live in Finland now so I probably got all the right ingredients. We have two different sizes of bread pans though. What size ones are you using? My loaves are a lot taller than yours. They don’t taste quite like the stuff from the store so I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. On a side note is there any way to do this in grams instead of deciliters since we don’t have deciliter measuring cups and I’ve always weighed my ingredients for baking when using Finnish recipes. I have a liquid dl one but they it isn’t precise to 2 dl

    1. Hi Laura,
      sorry for the late reply! I get delicious, very authentic archipelago breads with this recipe, so let’s try to troubleshoot together what could have gone wrong with your bread.
      I’m using 1,5 liter / 25cm long bread forms like these:
      As you’re weighing your ingredients instead of using deciliters, maybe you might have had a conversion problem? Many Finnish dry ingredients have a conversion chart on the side of the bag, and the Finnish dark syrup bottles have that as well. According to my bag, the wheat flour that I use weighs 65 grams/deciliter. I also measured the malts and they weigh 75 grams/deciliter. I hope that this is of any help! 🙂

      1. I will try it again soon. I just hopped on a plane to the US. I didn’t try converting to grams but tried using a liquid measuring cup for the dry ingredients.

        1. Hi Laura,
          I’m so sorry, I had missed your comment somehow and only noticed it now that I was going through my email. 🙁 I also use a liquid measuring cup (in deciliters) for the dry ingredients, so it’s exactly what you should do. Did you try the recipe again, and if, were you able to get the desired result? I’ll be here to troubleshoot with you if need be. 🙂

  13. I have to try this bread! I use to bake those small breads ater the receipt on the package «Kaljamallas». I also use to bake bread, no kneading bread, i my iron pot. The bread containing sour milk, water, bread sirup, yeast, salt, rye malt (Kaljamallas), rye flour and wheat flour😊 Those are very taste bread😊 I’m living in Northern-Norway😊

    1. Hi Anita,
      So nice to hear from you! ☺️ Your recipe sounds similar to mine, but I’ve never tried baking my bread in an iron pot. For how long and in what temperature do you bake the bread (with/without lid)? I’d be really interested in trying my recipe with this method! I live in Rovaniemi but visit Northern Norway for work (Hurtigruten) and Finnmarksløpet. It’s such a beautiful region! 💗

  14. I live close to Tromsø and have less than two hours to drive to Kilpisjärvi😊 I’ve been in Finland several times but not in Rovaniemi. My husband and daughter visited Rovaniemi and the Santa several years ago😃

    Here is my recipe😊

    No-knead pot bread with rye malt

    1 dl rye malt
    2,5 dl boiling water – pour over the rye malt. leave to cool
    2 dl sour milk
    1 ts dry yeast
    1 tbs of dark or breadsyrup
    1,5 ts salt
    100 grams of coarse rye flour
    About 300 grams of wheat flour

    Let the dough rise for 9-12 hours on the kitchen bench. The dough is a little sticky, so use well floured hands.
    Stretch and fold and shape the bread which is placed on baking paper.
    Pot with a lid is placed in a cold oven and heated to 250 degrees. Place the baking paper with the dough in the pot. Roast with a lid at 250 degrees for 30 minutes
    Lower to 220, remove the lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. Cool the bread on a wire rack. Let it cool completely before cutting into it😊

  15. Hello Veera,
    thank you very much for sharing this recipe!
    I was in Finland last year and since then I really want to try to bake some finnish rye bread.
    It’s not so easy because I live in Austria and the ingredients are hard to find…
    I bought this rye malt:
    but now I saw that your recipe calls for rye BEER malt… I can’t find that here.
    Do you think it’s similar to the grounded rye malt I bought?
    They say you should only use a little amount of rye malt in breads so I’m unsure if it’s the right substitute.

    Could you help me out, please? 🙂

    Greetings from Vienna!

    1. Hi Gloria,

      nice to hear that you liked the Finnish rye bread! To me, the local food is definitely one of (if not the most important) reason to travel and I like to recreate recipes from my travels at home to remember the trips that I’ve done. ☺️

      The rye malt that I use for this recipe is a lot coarser in texture than yours. It’s ground malt used for beer making. The exact product looks like this
      and can be ordered for example here.
      I hope that this helps you to find malts with the right consistency. ☺️ Happy baking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.