Estonian Cuisine. Eesti Toit.

How To Do Estonian Black Bread. 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 loaves of bread, 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 page

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 The 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 into the warm room 25-27C  at least for  2-5 days. The perfect leavening surface is foamy. Leavening is ready if you feel fermentation odour 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 4-5 times. So, be ready, that may be first times your bread is not perfect.


  1. Mix together leavening, lukewarm water and half of the flour. And leave for 24 hours to ferment in the warm place. Cover with towel.
  2. Add other flour and seasoning.
  3. Take few decilitre doughs for next leavening and keep this leavening in the 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 into the butter greased form or form a loaf. And leave ca 6 hours into the warm place under a towel to rise. Well risen dough is spongy and has doubled in size.
  6. Put into 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 the 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”. The best example of Estonian humour and all, what to must know about black bread 🙂

Soundtrack Tõnis Mägi Palve


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