Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Rieska, Finnish Barley Flatbread
A flatbread from Finland dating back to the Middle Ages, rieska has as many variations as it does bakers: Originally, it was unleavened, simply barley flour and water, cooked on hot stone. Nowadays, depending on location, you’ll also find leavened versions with buttermilk or milk or using rye, wheat, or potatoes. Here is fiber-rich plant-based interpretation, using barley, yeast, oat porridge, soy yogurt, and white whole wheat for a more tender rieska. Rieska can be enjoyed sweet, topped with roasted fruit or fruit-sweetened jam, or savory, alongside a steaming soup like Finnish hernekeitto (split pea soup).
Prep time 40 minutes
Bake time 20 minutes
Makes eight 5-inch flatbreads
Handy equipment: dough whisk; pizza docker or fork; a wide-spaced troccolaturo (grooved Pugliese rolling pin) or a pin embossed with a geometric pattern (optional); a bristle pastry brush; a pizza peel; a large baking stone or rimless baking sheet; a spray bottle filled with water
½ cup unsweetened soymilk
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 ¾ cups barley flour
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
½ cup cold, congealed oat porridge, made from 1/4 cup steel-cut oats
2 cups thick cultured vegan yogurt (I used soy yogurt)
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
- If you don’t have cold porridge on hand, combine the oats with 1 cup water and simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until the oats have broken down and thickened. Cool in a water bath or refrigerate until chilled.
- Warm the soymilk up to 100°F/38°C and pour into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, mix, and allow 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. Add the yogurt and oat porridge.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking soda and baking powder, and add them to the yogurt-yeast mixture, using a dough whisk or a wooden spoon to create a sticky, very moist dough. Add a little flour or vegan yogurt if the dough is too wet or dry. Cover and allow to rise for an hour.
- Insert a large baking stone on the middle oven rack or a rimless baking sheet, lined with parchment, and preheat the oven to 400°F/204°C for 30 minutes or more prior to baking.
- Flour a board very heavily with one of the flours. Break off enough dough to lightly shape into a ball the size of a large matzoh ball, roll it gently into the flour to coat all its surface. Then gently flatten into a disk ¼-inch thick using your fingers or a dowel.
- Use a pizza docker or a fork to perforate the rieska well, and if you like, cross its surface to make a diamond or other simple geometric design (I used a child’s clay grooved rolling pin.) Lightly brush off the surface flour with a bristle pastry brush.
- Transfer to a pizza peel and place on the stone or lined baking sheet in the oven. Spritz the rieska well with a water spritzer. Begin checking at 15 minutes for doneness. In the meantime, roll out your next rieska. The rieska should be lightly golden all over, sound hollow when knocked. Do not overbake or it may be dry and tough. Brush off any residual surface flour.
As they come out of the oven, wrap the rieskas in a clean kitchen towel to stay warm and tender.