Introduction to Lithuanian cuisine and all about bread

Once in a while a time comes to pay tribute to your roots. Ever since I’ve started blogging, I have been more than absorbed in the world of Mediterranean cuisine and have paid close zero attention to the cuisine I have actually grown up with.

For those who do not know, I was born and spent most of my life in the beautiful Lithuania and have been very fortunate to eat food cooked by mother and grandmother for the years I’ve lived there.  Food, which was mostly grown in the back garden, or sought from sustainable farmers and under no circumstances anything pre-processed.

Lithuanian cuisine in rather different from the foods I usually cook, as having spent quite some on the Mediterranean coast I’ve fell madly in love with olive oil and got absorbed by the diverse flavours of Mediterranean and for quite a few years never looked back. However, every time I come back home to Lithuania, I tend to indulge in absolutely every traditional dish I can possibly get my hands on, from rye bread to the famous potato dumplings.

Having received more than a few comments from friends that I have discriminated the national cuisine I was raised in, I’ve decided to dedicate a whole series of posts to traditional Lithuanian dishes, some tweaked with a few ideas of mine. To do so, I’ve dug deep in the family recipe notes, some that were used even by my great grandmother and spent the last few months working on them.

(in the photo: Trakai castle, set in the middle of the lake. Photo from internet, no copyright infringement intended)

So, what is Lithuanian cuisine all about? In the country where the temperatures can reach the same highs as lows (think +30 and -30…) the food tends to be lighter in summer months and get richer once the temperatures start going down. Dairy products such as cottage cheese, sour cream, and potatoes, cabbage and mushrooms, and meats of which pork is the most popular are quintessential to the national cuisine. Despite the ingredients, most of the dishes have one thing particularly in common, they are deeply comforting, warming and all about home cooking.

When selecting the dishes to share here, I must say I have been rather picky… You see, I do not particularly admire pork and I don’t eat much things with sour cream, so I have made tweaks and lighter versions where appropriate, however, there are dishes that are embedded almost to my bone marrows, that I dared not put any modern spins on them. After all, there are reasons why classics are classics.

To start the editorial, I’ve chosen a dark loaf of bread. Humble as it may be, this black rye bread is the cornerstone of Lithuanian cuisine, a dish not only known to every person, but also deeply embedded in the culture. Such bread with salt is frequently used for greeting people on occasions or newlyweds on the wedding day coming back from church. Many expatriates from Lithuania often say that this bread is the thing they miss most, and I for sure am one of them.

This black bread is quite like nothing you would find in any supermarket, even with the label of rye bread. This one, in it’s true form is made from sourdough starter (no yeast), includes rye malt, which gives it a special toasted flavour and overall results in a very dense, peculiar bread, that can stay fresh for up to two weeks. It has a much stronger flavour, than other breads, but combined with rich and complex aroma there is nothing that reminds Lithuania more that this.

I’ve always had a notion that bread baking was a fairly complex matter doing everything the traditional way and since I don’t fancy bread making machines, I never really tried it until last summer, when I was highly recommended to cut out the products with yeast out of my menu.

The alternative to yeast is using a sourdough starter. The thing is, once you have it, then bread baking becomes very very easy, basically just mixing, rising and baking. It’s so easy that I bake bread twice a week, mixing it in the evening then getting up at 5.30, so I could have it ready by 7 am. I know, I’m crazy…

The more complicated thing is acquiring the sourdough starter. I’ve got mine for a different kind of bread from my mother and have been using it ever since, but since I was aiming to bake here a traditional bread, I thought I might as well nail a process on how to make your own sourdough and explain it here. If I’d only known what I was getting myself into…

It took me more than a month and about 5 failed attempts of making sourdough to get it right, and understand what works and does not work.

There’s no big science behind it actually, all you need is rye flour, water and plenty of warmth for the fermentation to happen. I’ve kept mine in the oven set at 25-30C for most of the time and it worked. The best thing is that once you have your starter, it can hold for many years (yes, years) in the fridge or you can even dry some, and keep as powder.

Sourdough starter

400 g rye flour (preferably coarsely ground)

450 ml water

Day 1

Mix 100 grams of rye flour with 150 ml of warm water (about 37C) and pour into a glass bowl or an empty glass jar. Cover with a clean damp cloth and place somewhere warm. I found that I the beginning, warmth is especially important, so the best is to heat the oven to about 25 C and place it in there, reheating when needed.

Day 2

The sourdough should have started showing some signs of life (fermentation like slightly bubbling and increased in mass). Yes, this thing is alive and like most living things it needs something to eat. Hence mix in another 100 grams of rye flour and another 100 ml of water. Be sure the water is not very warm here, or you may just “kill” your sourdough. Then cover with damp towel and set in the warm place for another 24 hours.

Day 3

Take out 3-4 tablespoons of the sourdough and just throw it away (to save the space) and then mix in another 100grams of rye flour and 100 ml of warm water. Again cover and set in the warm place for 24 hours.

Day 4

Mix in another 100 grams of flour and 100 ml of water, then cover and back in the warm place again. I cannot emphasize the importance of warmth enough. If it’s not warn the fermentation will simply not happen. After every feeding the sourdough should start bubbling and increase in mass and the inside should have air pockets such as these.

Day 5

Your sourdough starter is ready; it should have the smell reminding of apple vinegar or something like that. You can bake the bread directly or place the sourdough starter in a airtight container in the fridge. The cold of the fridge will slow down the fermentation and as long as you “feed” it once every 2 weeks, this sourdough can hold for many years. In fact, it gets better as it ages, so the bread will be of much better quality after you’ll make it let say the 4th-5th time, since your sourdough will be more mature.

To feed the sourdough from the fridge and to start baking again, simply take the jar out of the fridge take of the cover and place on a clean cloth and let it warm till it starts bubbling again. The mix in 100 grams of rye flour and 100 ml of warm flour and let it ferment for 4-6 hours in a warm place. It will double in size and will haven plenty of air pockets.

Then take out the needed quantity for the bread and place the remaining one into the fridge (airtight container).

Note: the bread in photo was actually bought in Lithuania and brought over to me for a photo, as at that time after a few weeks of playing with sourdough starters I was sure if I’ll manage to bake one like it, so just to have a photo to show and since I’ve nailed the recipe we didn’t have time to re-shoot it, so next time I’ll post how one of mine looks (which is very similar just different shape)


5.0 from 7 reviews
Black rye bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 35 g (about 4 tablespoons) malt powder (optional)
  • 380 g rye flour (preferably coarsely ground)
  • 150 grams sourdough starter
  • 100 ml warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 10 g salt
  • 50 grams wheat flour
  • sunflower oil
  1. Pour 200ml boiling water over malt and let it cool down to about 37C, then stir in about 150 grams of rye flour, sourdough starter, mix everything and put in a warm place for up to 12 hours (or overnight) to rise.
  2. The next day melt the sugar, honey and salt in 100 ml of warm water, the stir in the water in the risen dough together with remaining 230 g rye flour and 50 g wheat flour.
  3. Mix everything very well together (you will end up with a sticky dough).
  4. Oil the deep baking dish with sunflower oil and pour the bread dough into it. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm place for 3 hours to rise.
  5. The put the bread into cold oven and set the temperature at 230C. Once the temperature is reached, let it bake for another 15 minutes (to form the crust), then reduce the temperature to 190-200C and let it bake for another 30 minutes.
  6. Once out of the over cover the bread with a damp towel for at least 20 minutes. This will make the crust softer and easier to remove it from the baking dish. Enjoy!
Rising time: 15 hours


91 thoughts on “Introduction to Lithuanian cuisine and all about bread

  1. Labai puiki idėja supžindinti su mūsų tradiciniais patieklais. Nors aš pati mėgstu palyginus mažai, bet kartais taip jų pasiilgstu..

    • As irgi nepasakyciau, kad labai daznai valgau tradicinius patiekalus, bet kartais taip smagu prisiminti :)

  2. An interesting post! I know so little about that cuisine.

    This bread looks delicious!



    • It’s not at all popular outside Lithuania, but there are quite a few hidden gems :)

  3. I’ve heard the Mediterranean diet is the one we should all be enjoying as it is best for our health. Your black bread looks very edible. I love how you have made your own ‘starter’ – what a great way to make bread!

    • Mediterranean cuisine is rightfully praised for being healthy, but sometimes I do like indulging in something different too :)

  4. oh wonderful! I love this. the idea of black bread is just incredible and simply stunning! Thanks for visiting my site the other day! So glad you did so I could find yours! will be by often!

  5. I’m so excited that you’re going to do some recipes from “back home in Lithuania.” I’ve never visited there but maybe one day. :)

    I admire the effort to make a good sourdough starter. I’ve failed twice and both times it was my fault. LOL

    • This may sound a bit like promoting (ok, it is promoting) but you should definitely visit Lithuania :)

  6. This bread looks extraordinary! So black and thick! I love this kind of bread and I’m wondering if I haven’t seen something similar here in an ethnic shop selling also Russian and Polish products… Does it exist also with caraway? The one I bought was with caraway and I’m almost sure it was called Lithuanian bread (imported from I don’t know where).
    It’s so funny because I have posted today something coming not far from Lithuania 😉
    I’m sure your bread would be perfect with my today’s dish!
    I’m looking forward to learn more about the Lithuanian cuisine!

    • Hi Sissi, actually this bread traditionally has caraway seeds in it, but I don’t fancy the stuff much so I didn’t include it in; and it’s true that you can get this sort of bread in Russian or Polish shops.

    • Yes, butter is the thing to have it (especially when it’s still warm)!

  7. I would love to know more about Lithuania’s kitchen. I don’t really know much about it and I am sure that it has some really tasty dishes! Paying tribute to your mother country I think is very important and it is something you should definitely do!

    • Indeed, I should have probably started this earlier, but I’m happy I did now, especially with all the time it took to make the things all from scratch for tutorials.

    • Oh you should try it at least once, it’s something very different from all the others.

  8. Thank you for sharing the recipe for the starter – I have never made one, so definitely an inspiration to try making it.

    I like rye bread, and your pictures look great!

    • Thanks Biana, making your own starter can take a bit of time and patience but it’s worth the effort. :)

  9. After chocolate mousse I was wondering what was your plan, but now I’m so excited about this new series! I know almost nothing about Lithuanian cooking, and can’t wait to see and learn about the new cuisine! Rye bread is my grandma’s favorite! As a child I actually enjoy this unique flavor bread and I still do!

    • Ah, so we have the same child “bread” memory. This was the bread we used to have most often, I think :)

  10. Hi Gourmantine – I’m really happy that you’re doing this – I know pretty much nothing about the country of Lithuania and it’s fascinating to learn about a country’s cuisine and culture – especially through first-hand experience. I’m looking forward to more posts, and for the bread today – it looks absolutely amazing. So “sliceable” – almost as perfect as a cake, but I can see the delicious bready consistency looking closer! Wonderful :)

    • Thanks Charles, this bread would probably be a little too heavy for a cake (though perfect with lots of butter). I usually bake more of it than needed and use it to make bread kvass.

  11. Oh, how I am looking forward to learning more about Lithuanian food! Your black bread looks so dense and wonderful…I would honestly eat a loaf of it over any chocolate mousse (I couldn’t say the same for the rest of the family, though…LOL). Beautiful.

    • Liz, I think you’re the first person I hear to prefer bread over chocolate mousse. Actually, as much as I love this bread I don’t think I’ve choose it when confronted with chocolate mousse (unless it would be made from avocado perhaps..)

  12. I can’t wait to see how your bread will turn out!!! That’s 5 days of work WOW! I never thought it could take that long to make bread! But your friends and family must be feeling the love when they take a bite!

    • Sammie, 5 days that’s just for the “starter” for the sourdough, once you have it then the bread is very easy and that “starter” can last for years :)

  13. Jau senokai skaitineju Jusu bloga, labai idomus receptukai.
    Noriu padekoti uz si juodos duonos recepta, siandien iskepiau duona ir ji be galo skani! Tik as dar idejau kmynu ir vietoj melasos naudojau melasos cukru (molasses sugar) kuris tikrai tiko siai duonai.
    Laukiu kuo daugiau idomiu receptu, sekmes Jums!


    • Dekoju Ilona, labai smagu kad Jums patiko duona! Reiks ir man pabandyt su salyklu melasos cukraus i duona ideti kita karta kepant.

  14. Great looking recipe and easy instructions, thanks! I’ve been looking for an authentic recipe to bake when my parents come to visit. (My dad is half Lithuanian and loooves rye bread – since my husband won’t touch the stuff, I was looking forward to someone to help me eat it!) One problem – they come in 4 days and I was hoping to have this ready! Can I use the starter before 5 days? Also, when you “feed” it every couple weeks, do you do it like step 3? Take some out as well? Do you feed it every time you use any, as well?


    • Sorry for the double post, but I didn’t see a way to edit. After I wrote that, I had a thought – can I use yeast instead? I realize the taste would be slightly different, but, other than that, would it work?

      • Hi Rachael, the bread started is ready when it starts smelling like apple vinegar, so in principle it could be ready after 3 days. The problem is that the it may not be “strong” enough so the bread will not rise properly. Mine was the best after 2-3 bakings. To “feed” the ferment, I take it out of the fridge, open and cover with a towel till it warm’s up and the air pockets start appearing again. Then mix in 100g rye flour and 100 ml water and leave it to ferment for 4-5 hours (I do this before every baking as well).
        Now for using yeast, I’ve never really baked this bread with yeast to be honest but did some research for and this is how it should work:
        You’ll probably need about 4 grams of dry yeast for this bread, so before using “activate” it by mixing with a couple of tablespoons of water and a teaspoon of sugar. Then leave it in a warm place for 10-20 minutes. If it starts foaming then it works. Then follow the next steps by stirring all the ingredients into steeped malt with yeast included (except for oil), mix the dough, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 40-50 minutes. Then knead the dough well and let it rise covered for another 30 minutes. Bake in 180C oven for 40-55 minutes (depends on the oven). When baked, cover with a towel. Hope this works, good luck baking! :)

        • Thanks! I did start it and threw in a little yeast to see if it would speed up the process – it seems to be working very well (it actually just overflowed – oops!). Good to know I have a backup plan, though! :o)

        • Just wanted to let you know that the starter did work, and my dad said it tasted “just like the bread [his] grandpa used to eat!” Thanks!!!

          • Wow, that’s incredibly nice to her, thank you very much for letting me know! I’m very happy it worked out for you! :)

  15. Please do not play down the Lithuanian sourdough rye bread… It is simply the most delicious can’t-stop-eating it bread in the history of breads! My husband is lithuanian and the first time I had this bread, wow! Eye-opening! I have also a Russian friend who also always keeps Lithuanian bread in her house because she too thinks it’s the best. We have both been looking for a recipe easy-to-follow in English (my Sister-in-law offered her mother’s recipe… but the horrors of translating). Thanks! I have tried making rye sourdough starter a few times and have failed each time. Hopefully this will work. Just a question about the rye flour… I have been told the rye flour in the States is different from the Lithuanian grind. Is this true and will it effect the results?

    • Hi Ruth, nice to hear you like Lithuanian bread! :) I feel there is some export potential for it :)
      For the making part, rye flour is indeed different in the US (I can’t say what the difference is exactly, cuz I never tried baking with it there), but you should try to get the flour that has been least processed (I buy mine from bio shops only). Also experiment with different types and be sure that the flour is really dry before using it. When I was making the sourdough starter in the Netherlands, it worked with the second type of flour, so there is a difference somewhere there. Additionally, warmth is really essential, so best to keep it in 25-30C all the time. Good luck baking bread! :)

  16. We took our first trip to Lithuania this past May. My husband is 100% Lithuanian (his mother immigrated to the States in 1926, his father was born in Pennsylvania to an immigrant couple). Our focus was meeting the maternal cousins, but we got quite a few sights in from Grutas Park in the south to the Curonian Spit in the northwest, Kaunas and Vilnius.

    I loved the food and I desperately miss the dark chewy rye that was served everywhere. I notice that there are no whole grains like wheat berries in your recipe. The best bread I had was at Nemunas Tour, a wonderful guesthouse in Kaunas. Danute baked her own and it was full of delicious nubbly bits.

    My current project is mastering koldunai. Getting better…

    Nice blog. I will be back to look through it.

    • Thanks so much Ellen, I’m happy you’ve enjoyed discovering Lithuania. The Curonian Spit and the little fisherman’s villages place are amongst my favorite places.
      Traditionally to this bread caraway seeds are added, berries are a little less frequent, depending on the place where they are made (I only remember tasting bread spiced with caraway seeds only and sometimes baked on sweet flag), but if you’d make this bread you can easily stir in some dried berries before last rising session. Have a nice weekend! :)
      p.s. love koldunai, but it’s true they ain’t exactly very easy to make.

  17. Hi! I love your bread recipe. My mother and grandparents are from Lithuania so I have been trying to learn more about Lithuanian and culture (besides just Kuldunai). I’ve been struggling with it a bit though. I’ve made it four times now and each time the crust is too hard, while the inside is still really moist. I have an electric oven, so this last time I tried baking it at only 190 for about 45-50 minutes but I’m still having the same problem. And suggestions?

    • Hi Hayley, sorry for the late reply, the blog was on a little holiday here… when it comes to traditional Lithuanian dark bread, the crust is suppose to be quite hard, in a way to keep the inside moist. I don’t know hard it turns out for you, but you could try right after baking covering it with a fairly damp cloth to soften the crust a bit, perhaps it will work.

  18. Labas,

    Im English and my fiance is Lithuaniannand the first time i tried this bread i thought it was disgusting however a year later i am addicted it took a while an lots of ham and butter with vodka ( and even gira) but now i love it.

    I am following your recipe and the startermdough is in the oven at 30 degrees for the first of 4 nights while im in bed writing and hoping it goes well… But thinking here i have a few questions…..

    When you say mix it in do you mean mix in with a spoon or by machine (i dont have) or by hand or knead it?

    Ii have the starter in a bowl in oven but when i put it in a jar it will be a pain to mix more rye into do i take it out the jar to mix? As my starter i have is stick and not at all runny?

    And last question…. If i am just mixing now by hand or spoon, when i come to make the bread and mix together do i need to knead it? Also what size bread tin do i need and how big will the loaf be with ur recipe?

    Sorrry i just want it to be perfect and the recipe sounds amazing and being english i want to master it to show my little Aistis when he grows up!

    • Labas Benny, nice to hear you like our dark bread (I do admit it’s very peculiar). To answer your questions:
      1. concerning mixing, I do all the mixing with a large wooden spoon (strong one)
      2. I keep my started in 1 liter size mason jar, so it’s fairly easy to mix extra rye and water for maintenance every 1-2 weeks, if I don’t bake bread. If it gets too messy I just wipe with cloth the sides and every few months change the jar to avoid too dry bits on the side. If your starter is too thick you may add some more water. Usually the starter with rye flour becomes more liquid after a day or so, but the rye flour itself is very different from place to place, so you may need to adjust it.
      3. I don’t knead this bread, just mix everything well with a wooden spoon. This recipe makes a medium loaf of bread, I usually pick baking dish whatever I have on sight (you can bake it in any shape) You can also just form a loaf of your liking on a baking tray and bake it like that.
      Hope this helps, and sekmes

  19. Me again….

    Ok so tonight will be night 3 of the sour dough the 2nd night (24hrs after 1st mix) i had seen a big increase in size today however the size has not grown so much, there is a strongermsmell and what appears to be little white bits on the top not so much bubbles or huge air pocketsm when inadded thensecond amount of flourmand water last night i mixed it with the water at 37 degrees as i did on night onem when you said not to have it too warm does this mean less than 37 degrees or is this normal the consistancy is good though and it has been in the warm oven all the time?

    • Hi Benny, by the sound of it, I think your doing just fine, the sourdough starter will eventually end up smelling a bit like apple vinegar. I don’t usually measure the temperature of water, but by touch it’s usually luke warm, so maybe a bit less than 37c.
      Concerning the oven, I used to keep mine there during the day and during the nights on a warm heater. Both things work, just as long as the starter is in a warm place.

  20. Ok, last time i promise. So i have just done the feed for the fourth time, last night i removed the 3 tbsp out before mixing and as i am using a bowl for this stage there was a skin and i removed this as part of the tbsp’s. Tonight again the was a skin so i removed it. Was that a good or bad thing?

    Also there doesnt seem that much left now (650g) as tomorrow night it will be done and i shal start the first stage of bread building can i add 200 ml of water and 200g of rye flour to create more sour dough… If so and i leave it in the warm oven untill the dough has rested for the 15 hours, will it be ok to transfer the sour dough to the fridge after just 15 hours instead of 24?

    When i have mixed my dough and leave for 12 hour over night to proof, do i cover the bowl? Maybe with cling film to prevent a skin?


    • Hi Benny, I’m very happy to help! The skin can form on the starter because it dries out, I always cover it with a damp cloth and moisten it a few more times, but overall it’s not a problem just throw it away. If you have now 650g of bread starter and tonigh it will grow more, then that’s quite enough. You don’t need that much of it in the bread, but of course you can add more flour and water. Just a note, that you will have “feed” the starter once every week or two weeks and always before baking, so you will have plenty and 15 hours is really enough before transferring to the fridge.
      For the bread dough during resting cover it as well with damp cloth, that should be fine. Good luck baking :)

  21. Right then…….

    So the smell was perfect untill toward the end…. And thenflavourmwasmtheremfrom thenbits imtried…

    I had a reallynsticky dough that was hard to mix but imdidmit….however

    I placed in cold oven amd raist to 230c let it on for 15 minutesmthen dropped the temp to 195c yet when it emerged from themoven in the bread tip i had a black rock hard outer crust ( burnt) when i eventually broke into it after 30 minutes of a towel on top and a real hard knife the inside looked a great colour but it was not fully cooked..

    I followed instructions and have no idea? Was it the burnt crust that stopped the insides cooking and how did i manage to cremate the outside i have got another batch on standby…

    • Hi Benny, ovens do differ, perhaps your’s is stronger. The high temperature in the beginning is to from the crust which would then allow to keep the inside moist. I would suggest next time to start not with 230 but with 22o or 210 and then reduce it to 190, if it’s still too hot, then reduce to 180.

  22. I lived in Lithuania for 1 1/2 years and we took our kids back for a year. I love the bread there Bociu duona is my favorite. my question is about the malt. is that the malt powder you can buy like you would put in a milk shake to make a malt or is it like beer malt, and a powder of that?
    Aciu labai

    • Hi Mark, the malt to make black rye bread is the one used for beer, I actually think that mine came from a beer brewery. Cheers!

    • Labas Mark,

      I used the darkest malt powder from my local brewing shop

      Spray-malt is what to ask for in the UK

      Word of warning do not let moisture get to it untill you pour water on it turns to superglue :)


  23. Well,

    It went perfect drpped the temp at the start and left a little lower after think next time still to cook longer for middle to not be so doughy…..


    As the bread has been so popular i have been asked to make a large loaf so i am x3 on all ingredients but…

    Do i still start of high in oven to form the crust and when i turn down to 180 – 190 do i just leave it longer or is it best to lower temp more to cook for longer?

    As i will be forming this large loaf do i mould it before the final 3 hour rise or let it rise the move it around before cooking… My gut is saying to mould it before the final rise!

    You would not believe that i love cooking and am hugely confident in creating great meal, yet, when it comes to Bakery im scared!! :)


    • Hi Benny, sorry for the late response.
      You should definitely mould the bread before the final rise, otherwise you’ll crush some of the air out when you’ll be transferring.
      When it comes to baking, I think you should still begin with higher temperature to form the crust. Such large loaf will take longer to bake so towards the end you could cover the bread with aluminium foil to prevent the top from burning. Sekmes! :)

  24. I have just made this bread. I’m glad that it isn’t so sour like I thought it would be.
    But there are some questions that I would like to ask or comment: shouldn’t there be a bit of oil in the bread? Normally, in all the recipes that I know, there is always some oil.
    The crust is way to rigid. The next time I do the bread, I will not heat the over on 230 C at the beginning.
    I have also one more question: once I have at the lithuanian party and we ate this bread, but it wasn’t just baked, it was fried after the baking on oil and garlic (I suppose), it was a dish that Lithuanians eat with beer in restaurants.
    I would be very grateful if you could answer me to these questions.

  25. Sorry, I forgot to write the last question: do you know how to prepare thoses peaces of bread that are served with the beer?

    • Hi Petra, a traditional black rye bread doesn’t have any fat in it, so no need to add oil here. It’s also traditionally with a very thick crust, which helps to preserve the moisture inside and is… traditional :) The fried bread you’ve tried wasn’t probably made out of this type dark rye bread, but a lighter version using half rye half wheat. I have the recipe for it here: good luck cooking! Cheers! :)

  26. Hey!

    My love for lithuanian dark bread took me here! After trying it (it was actually my first time baking:-)) I have a question – I wasnt able to have such a dark colour, after trying a lot of baltic dark breads – they were all really, really dark – how is that achieved? I thought I followed step by step your recipe, but mine wasnt even near.

    Thank you, with greetings from Czech Republic

    • Hi Libca, the color of the bread depends on the malt powder, did you add it to the bread? It’s also possible that the malt powder is different per supplier. This bread for me comes quite dark, but not as dark as you’d see in some places, you could also try adding a little more malt to make it more intense.

      • Hey hey, thanks for advice, I added malt powder, but mine is not very dark. Next time I will use some darker!

  27. I know this is an older post but I just wanted to join in and thank you for posting this!! My boyfriend lives in Lithuania (I’m in Texas) and when I went to visit him he made me breakfast every morning with this bread, toasted with cheese and ham on top. I have been searching for a place to buy this bread, or a recipe online. But all the “black bread” recipes I found before had weird ingredients like instant coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder. It was all wrong.

    Right now as I sit reading your blog in my living room, my house is filled with the smell of this bread baking. It smells perfect! I know it sounds silly, but being in a long distance relationship can be very very hard. This makes me feel closer to him and it makes me happy. I just thought I would share that with you. Thank you so much!

  28. So the bread tastes exactly right. However I think somewhere in the measurements I must have gotten it wrong. It is much much too hard and dense. It didn’t rise after I shaped it into the pan. I thought maybe I just didn’t notice. But now I think it didn’t rise at all. Do you have any suggestions? Or should I just try again? 😉

    • Hi Sarah, first of all thank you very much for the sweetest words, makes me very happy to read them. Distant relationships can be really tough, I know, my husband and I after meeting spend 1,5 years in different corners of Europe, but with faith and will things do turn out well, and I wish you both lots of luck!
      Now for the bread, I think something might be wrong with your “starter”, have you just made it? Maybe it needed another day or two of fermenting, and even so usually it gets stronger with time, so I’d suggest to try make it again, just really allow plenty of time for it to bubble after “feeding”.
      Also, when you stir in the “starter”, be sure the dough has cooled down to luke warm, or the heat will kill the fermentation process.
      Good luck and a happy coming weekend :)

  29. I’ve made this bread 3 times already. My 8-year old son told me that this is his favorite bread now and I should be baking it all the time. Great bread! Thank you! However, I have one aspect for perfection. My bread does not have an arch on top, it flattens up when baking, takes a form of a brick, rather than loaf. The dough rises and has has air pockets and they stay there, but the arch flattens. How long am I supposed to mix it? I know the dough should be sticky, but all other breads should be kneaded. Should this one be just mixed until combined or mixed for a while? I use stone ground rye flour, which is a little grainy. Can it be the reason? Thank you again!

    • Hi Olga, so happy to hear you like the bread. Mine never rises a lot either and the one I used to eat back home was also much flatter than most others (I don’t see how your’s looks, so it’s hard to tell). I only mix mine for a couple of minutes, 5-7 most. Maybe it needs more time to proof before baking?

  30. Hi, I’m curious about water in this recipe. It mentions that malt powder is optional, and so I’m not using it because it’s very difficult to find. If I don’t include malt powder in the recipe is the water still necessary for the first rise?

    • Hi Phil, you will still need water just be sure it is about 37 when you mix it with flour.

  31. My husband is a Lithuanian guy and I’m Turkish. So I’m totally new to Lithuanian cuisine. Thanks for the post and the recipe. :)

  32. Thank you for the recipe! There was a truckdriver last week from Lithuania and he gave me a few slices of bread, it was delecious. I’m used to bake sour dough so I can easely start trying this recipe. Greatings from Holland

  33. For those who have never had Lithuanian Black Rye Bread, you are really missing out. It is one of the best breads ever! I remember the first time I had this in Lithuania. I couldn’t stop eating it!

    Question: For the malt powder, do you use diastatic or non-diastatic? I was under the impression if you used more than just a tsp of diastatic malt powder, it would make the bread texture gummy. Or does this work because it’s rye flour?

  34. Hi Gourmantine,

    Thank you very much for the recipe, I live in USA and I couldn’t find black rye bread anywhere. Then I decided to make it myself. I have searched many different websites for the recipe where the process seemed very difficult, once I read your instructions I quickly understood every step. I’m really happy I found your website and today I made my first rye bread. The taste is very sour as it should be and the texture is soft. Thanks again
    for sharing this recipe.

  35. This recipe sounds great. There is something about the tips and trial and error that a plain old recipe just can’t quite convey. I kick myself, that I didn’t learn to make this bread from the elderly neighbor in the flat next to mine when I lived in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

    I am excited to try making this bread. The starter will definitely be the most difficult part. Hopefully it turns out well! Thanks for your post!

  36. I’ve just made my first loaf, according to your recipe (minus the malt) and with the sourdough starter according to your instructions. It tastes great. Thanks!

    Now I’ll start looking for a place that sells malt and I’ll have another go.

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