swedish rye

Breads of Finland

In Finland, bread is a very important food, served with almost every meal with many different types produced domestically.

In the region of Åland where Swedish culture is predominant, there are many more varieties of bread in use, the majority taking influence from Swedish cuisine.

Rye bread

Rye bread (Ruisleipä or hapanleipä (lit. sour bread) in Finnish) is a dark, sour bread produced in quantity in Finland. It is the most popular type of bread in Finland. Unlike the more internationally popular German style rye breads, Finnish rye breads lack the greasy/moist texture. The most common types of Finnish rye breads are not sweet, unlike Swedish rye breads. As well as traditional breads more modern, softer breads exist as well these days.


Traditional eastern-Finnish rye bread is called "limppu", the closest translation to English would be loaf, but that does not actually describe the round, bulbous bread that is actually known as limppu, and could cause confusion as rectangular loaves are also available and are not called limppu.

Limppu is common in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan due to the high level of Finnish immigrants. Limppu can be served in many pubs and diners across the peninsula and is in fact commonly found.


Traditional western-Finnish rye bread (reikäleipä lit. hole bread) was baked in rings, which were then placed on poles suspended just below the kitchen ceiling, to dry and be stored. This kind of bread is now available throughout the whole of Finland.


Crispbread (näkkileipä in Finnish) are leavened rye breads, most commonly round, thin and with a hole in the centre; they are sometimes made using sour dough. Crispbread are very common throughout the Nordic countries and if stored properly will not spoil for a long time.

Wheat bread

Because traditionally wheat wasn't as abundant as rye or barley, wheat is mainly used for baking of pastry, scones, pulla and nowadays is often combined with other types of flour to make things like Karelian pasties and meat pies. There are a few wheat breads in Finland, although most are simple buns or loaves of sliced or unsliced bread.


Vesirinkeli (water ring) are small rings of yeast leavened wheat bread; which resemble bagels. They are placed in salted boiling water before being baked. They are often eaten for breakfast toasted and buttered. They are available in several different varieties in supermarkets.

Other breads

There are countless varieties of breads throughout Finland and it would be impossible to catalogue them all, however there are some important types which do not fit in other areas, and they are mentioned below.

Oat bread

Oats (kaura) are the most commonly produced grain in Finland so it makes sense that bread based on oats will be very popular, although not as popular as rye breads. The most common use in bread is in rolls or buns (sämpylä) or in flat soft bread pieces similar to ruispalat or reissumies rye breads.

Potato bread

The potato, although a late introduction to Finland features heavily in the eating and has found its way into many kinds of breads, usually dough made with potato will be very soft and the bread will be moister and fluffier than plain wheat or oat bread.

Christmas bread

There are several varieties of Christmas breads, however most are made in a similar way to a basic ruislimppu bread however they typically include molasses and other Christmas time flavours like orange, cinnamon, fennel, aniseed and cumin.


Pulla are cardamom flavoured, yeast leavened sweetened breads, often served with coffee. In contrast to other nationalities' sweetened breads, these are very rarely buttered.


Korppu (rusk in English) are hard and crisp, the resemble small bread rolls but usually halved and much harder. They are often made from leftover dough from pulla or bread making, and can of course be bought in shops also. There are also variations of korppu which are totally flat and unleavened, usually made of either rye or oats.


There are several types or rieska (pronounced re-ehskuh, stress on the first syllable, no pause)(there is no actual translation to English). Rieska are unleavened barley based flat breads which could be considered a crispbread without the crisp. They are often served warm, buttered with milk. The most common kinds of rieska are:

  • Perunarieska (potato rieska)
  • Ohrarieska (barley rieska)
  • Ruisrieska (rye rieska) This kind of rieska is often made without barley flour.
  • Maitorieska (milk rieska) is a local specialty and a very traditional food in the Ylivieska area of Finland. Very similar to the plain ohrarieska, however made with milk rather than soured milk or butter milk.
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