Bread as Agriculture:
A series highlighting Greenmarket baked goods made with local grains.
Nordic Bread's Finnish Ruis
Featured Item #5
Nordic Bread's Finnish Ruis
In Denmark - and much of Scandinavia - rye bread is king, according to Danish chef Trine Hahnemann. Bakers use locally grown flour, along with a sourdough starter and rye bread recipe which have typically been passed down through the family for generations. Although New Yorkers are still more likely to reach for white bread than rye, a significant interest in a Nordic approach to bread is evidenced by the success of a Finnish rye sourdough bread that, from a distance, might look to an unknowing New Yorker like a flat pumpernickel bagel. It is, in fact, Nordic Breads' Finnish Ruis.
Simo Kuusisto, the head baker and owner of Nordic Breads, epitomizes the seriousness with which Scandinavians take rye bread, having put great effort into developing a truly authentic Finnish Ruis bread here in New York City. Simo started baking rye bread at the suggestion of a friend in 2009. At first he used organic rye flour bought from a wholesaler in California, flour whose quality he called inconsistent and whose exact provenance was unknown to the wholesaler and even the miller. Later that year Greenmarket staff connected Simo to local grain growers, and he began baking with New York State-grown organic rye flour. Since then his business - and not coincidentally the acreage of rye in the state - has expanded. Simo has become the single biggest user of NYS-grown rye, using what he projects will be 30 tons of rye flour this year. He uses no other flour in his bread. Simo values the connections he has made with grain farmers, adding that, "local makes sense, it all fits."
Simo's insistence on a product faithful to Finnish baking practice also inspired him to fly to Finland in search of bakers who could advise him on the specifics of making traditional Ruis. There he met with a farm-based baker who had been baking such a rye for decades. In addition to verifying that his baking process matched the traditional Finnish one, Simo came home with sourdough starter that became the basis for his own bread's character. With the right grains and sourdough starter in place, Simo's Ruis began taking on a life of its own, attracting the attention of shoppers and local media. You'll understand why when you encounter this bread's rich, malty-sweet aroma and pleasantly even sourdough tang. This Ruis has a strong character that's not too assertive to play with others; it will make a good pairing with whatever cheese you put on it and is a lower-calorie, low-gluten, flavorful, and aromatic substitute for white bread on any burger or sandwich. Nordic Bread's Finnish Ruis' definitely stands alone in NYC, a fitting result of a thoughtful translation of Scandinavian bread culture to America.
Find Nordic Bread's Finnish Ruis year-round at the following Greenmarkets:
Union Square - Friday & Saturday