How To Do Estonian Black Bread. Leib

Estonian Black Bread is fermented Rye Bread.
For this bread we have even the own word: LEIB.


Estonian Black Bread is fermented Rye Bread.
For this bread we have even the own word: LEIB.
“white wheat bread” we call “Sai”.

Estonian Black Rye Bread. Leib

Of course, shops are  full of different breads, even with nuts and chocolate.
But some years ago, our first lady Evelin Ilves promoted the homemade bread. So, today, I believe, all Estonian woman has their own home-made bread recipe.

Each estonian eat  ca 10 kg white wheat bread and 30 kg black rye bread per year, so Rye bread is very popular and I can say, that this is something very “Estonian”.

24th February is Estonian Independence Day,  our republic become 99 years old 🙂
so this is the best day to bake the Estonian traditional rye Leib.

Estonian Black Bread. Leib

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Estonian Black Bread is fermented Rye bread. My Sister s recipe

Estonian Black Rye Bread. Leib.


  • 1,5 litre lukewarm water
  • 0,5 litre leavening*
  • 1, 5 kg rye flour (best is whole grain and/or milled flour. For better colour add some handful rye malt flour)
  • ca 10-11 teaspoon salt, ca 3-4 dl sugar, coriander
  • 2-3 dl oat brans
  • caraway seeds, (flax seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • * Leavening Easiest way is probably  to find local Estonian, and ask her . Second option: Take 5 dl kefir, buttermilk (NB! NOT UHT or ESL, you need living bacteria) or natural apple juice. Add 3-4 slices regular  fermented rye bread (best is 100% rye flour) or  ca 100-120 g  rye flour. Leave the mixture in a covered bowl to ferment in to the warm room 25-27C  at least for  2-5 days. Perfect leavening surface is foamy. Leavening is ready if you feel fermentation odor and on top is froth. The leavening agent may be stored in the fridge for one week; it may be left in a freezer for a longer time.

    And yes. The perfect power leavening reaches on 4-5 times. So, be ready, that maybe first times you bread is not perfect.


  1. Mix together leavening, lukewarm water and half of flour. And leave for 24 hour to ferment in the warm place. Cover with towel.
  2. Add other flour and seasoning.
  3. Take few decilitre dough for next leavening and keep this leavening in fridge. When you baking next time bread, use this as leavening.
  4. Add seeds, Knead rye flour into the dough until it is tough and solid. The dough is ready when it is no longer sticks to your hands.
  5. Pour pastry in to the butter greased form or form a loaf. And leave ca 6 hours in to the warm place under towel to rise. Well risen dough is spongy and has doubled in size.
  6. Put in to the oven bottom bowl with the water, to keep moisture.
  7. Bake it in a pre-heated oven  at 230 C for 15 minutes so that the crust becomes crisp and then 40-50 minutes 200 C. But follow, because ovens are different!

    When bread is ready, cover it with a wet towel, to keep moisture. Let it cool down for an hour before cutting. Warm bread is soggy.

    Head isu!

Reading suggestion Andrus Kivirähk ” The Man Who Spoke Snakish”. Best example of Estonian humor and all, what to must know about black bread 🙂

Soundtrack Tõnis Mägi Palve


Did you make this recipe?

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I appreciate you so much!








41 comments on “How To Do Estonian Black Bread. Leib”

      1. Yes! I want to make it as traditional as possible but I don’t have kefir so I put 100 gr of rye flour in 500 ml natural apple juice to make the leavening. This is what you suggested right? I hope I didn’t misunderstood.. :/ My question is do I have to add new flour to this every day or do I have to leave it like this for 2-5 days?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ye. mix 100 g rye flour and 500 g natural juice. And leave it for 2-4 days 🙂
        So, everything together.
        (And when leavening is ready(foamy and right odor) add other flour, spices and so one.)
        I hope you manage 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi, I am an American trying to get the units right. By “ca 10-11 teaspoon salt, ………” do you mean 10 to 11 teaspoons of salt?


    1. Separate? No. Maybe your mixture is too liquid? In Estonia we compare conistence with sour cream. Sour cream consistence is like liquid , running porridge. Running from spoon.
      I hope you will succeed. Because the most important is fermenting processe. If your mixture is fermenting, I believe this is not affect to the result


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