Authentic Lithuanian Bread made of whole-grain rye flour and wheat flour. This homemade rye bread is just like the dark rye bread sold at our favorite Eastern European market and is very similar to Jewish Rye bread.
Lithuanian rye bread is a favorite for making sandwiches using European deli meats and kielbasa. I have a post on how to make tea sandwiches using different types of European meat sausages. We like to toast Lithuanian black bread and then smear some mayo over the top, bologna, and a cucumber or tomato slice (so good!) This makes the perfect open-faced breakfast sandwich or snack to a cup of tea!
What is Lithuanian Rye Bread?
Traditional Lithuanian bread is dark bread with a hearty crust and soft crumb. It’s an Eastern European staple bread sweetened with molasses and very similar to Jewish bread or black rye bread only not as tangy and dark as some rye breads. The blend of rye and wheat flour makes this hearty and wholesome with an irresistibly light crumb.
This Lithuanian Bread Recipe came to be after we moved away from our favorite Polish Deli that carried this bread. Thankfully when family visits they pass on some sausages and Keilbasa along with Lithuanian bread. After we finished the oval pre-sliced loaf, I saved a picture of the ingredients to someday replicate the bread.
Furthermore, I ended up finding a Jewish rye bread recipe I like only to tweak it to the ingredients found in the Lithuanian bread. The experiment was a complete hit and I couldn’t be more eager to say it tasted just like the dark Lithuanian loaf with a bottom cornmeal crust!
Where Can I Buy Lithuanian Bread?
The European market is the best place to look for traditional European rye bread. Typically a Polish, Russian, or Ukrainian deli will carry these specialty loaves of bread. There are also many online stores that will ship to your house too, but your best choice is to visit the nearest European market near you. Another place where to buy Lithuanian black bread is Brighton Beach, NY where there’s a high population of Russian-speaking immigrants and many European distributors.
Ingredients For Homemade Lithuanian Bread:
Lithuanian bread has very simple ingredients. I’ve experimented with malted barley flour, ground barley, and different amounts of rye flour including sourdough starter. The one that got voted for the best was made with a rye sponge and unbleached flour. The barley flour did not play a big role in flavor so you can omit it or substitute it for 2 tablespoons of unbleached bread flour.
- Rye Poolish- is a pre-ferment starter for making bread. It is made directly with yeast the night before for a quick sponge (Levain) in a fraction of the time than a sourdough starter.
- Unbleached Bread flour- is enriched wheat flour that has been made into powder by grinding raw wheat grain and then is sifted and enriched. If you prefer to use whole wheat flour, then substitute the same amount of hard red wheat flour. You’ll need a high gluten flour and will need to knead it well.
- Water- use filtered water.
- Dry Active Yeast- is added to the rye sponge overnight and into the dough when kneading.
- Salt- I used sea salt.
- Molasses- is for color and sweetness, it gives the bread a nice brown hue and works as the sweetener.
- Sunflower Oil- for greasing the bowl or any mild-flavored oil.
How To Make Lithuanian Bread:
This rye recipe is easy and requires an overnight sponge of water, yeast, rye, and wheat flour (unbleached bread flour.) I recommend a food storage bowl with a lid to keep it overnight on the counter. A kitchen scale is handy for accurate results, typically I will place the bowl of my Kitchen aid mixer and weigh everything directly in it before adding the sponge.
- The night before baking mix together the sponge (poolish.)
- In the morning, weigh all of the ingredients directly into a mixing bowl using a kitchen scale.
- Attach the hook attachment and knead the dough for 3-4 minutes until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides. You can add a tablespoon of flour until it comes off the sides.
- Place into a greased bowl and cover to rise until doubled.
- Shape the dough into a tight log and place it over a sheet pan dusted with cornmeal.
- Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and slit one side of the risen loaf to expand for baking without tearing.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Then cool for two hours before slicing.
Pro-Slicing Tip: use an electric bread knife to make clean thin slices. This loaf can make up to 20 slices!
Favorite Ways To Serve Lithuanian Bread:
- Sandwiches! Toast the bread slices, give it a smear with mayo, and top it with bologna and sliced cucumbers. We love this for breakfast!
- Drizzle with honey for a healthy snack.
- Make Rueben or corned beef sandwiches, it’s the best with rye!
- Enjoy these as open-faced pizzas, drizzle some ketchup on the bread, and top with shredded cheese, and thinly sliced rings of Polish Kielbasa!
More Eastern-Style Breads:
- Paska Easter Bread Recipe (Kulich)– sweet bread
- Poppy Seed Roll
- Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread– a type of black bread made from sourdough starter.
- Ukrainian Bulochki Recipe (Filled Sweet Buns)
Lithuanian Bread Recipe
- 1 medium food storage bowl with a lid
- 1 Stand Mixer with kneading attachment (like a Kitchen-aid mixer)
- 1 18x13" sheet pan
- Make the sponge (poolish) the night before by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover with a lid and leave on the counter for 12 hours.
- In the morning, add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for 3-4 minutes. The dough should come off the sides if it's too sticky keep adding a tablespoon of white flour until it comes together. Place into a greased bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled.)
- Shape the dough: on a lightly floured surface make an upside-down triangle and bring over the top corners to make an envelope.
- Then bring over the middle like a crescent.
- Flip to the other end, and repeat.
- Roll into a tight log jelly-roll style (loaf should be 10 inches long.) Transfer dough to a sheet pan dusted with cornmeal and allow to rise until doubled (about 1 hour.)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and slash one side to make an air pocket when baking. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for at least two hours before slicing.
- *Rye flour can be made from grinding rye grain or you can use store-bought.
- The high baking temp creates a dark brown crispy crust.
- Can substitute two tablespoons of unbleached flour with barley flour.
- For whole wheat add 1 tsp of dry active yeast to the poolish overnight instead of 1/2 tsp. Then add 275 grams of freshly ground hard red wheat when making the dough.