Chleb – Bread

Today is the third anniversary of my blog – I started posting on 4 July 2015 and this will be my 155th post!

I am really enjoying the research, the cooking, the photography  and the writing and have many more recipes to share with you all.

Chleb – Bread

A wedding tradition in Poland is to greet the bride and groom on their arrival at the reception with bread & salt.

The bread is seen as a gift from God and is a wish that they never go hungry.

The salt is a seen as a gift from the earth and is a wish that they overcome the bitterness of life.


To be called bread in Poland the loaves or rolls must contain some rye.

Wheat loaves or rolls are called bułki or bułeczki but this is also the name  given to some cakes and buns – hence there is often some confusion!

Żyto is the Polish for rye.

Rye   – Secale cereale  is a grain and is used for bread and for making some of the best vodkas.

It grew  wild in Turkey and  since the Middle Ages it has been cultivate widely in    Central and Eastern Europe.

Rye grows well  in poor soil and in cold and harsh conditions.

Nowadays rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe and the top three rye producing countries are Germany,  Russia & Poland.

Poland consumes the most rye per person at 32.4 kg/capita (2009) followed by Nordic and Baltic countries. (From an article in Wikipedia).

Sour dough

This method of bread making uses the natural yeasts that are found on the grain and in the atmosphere.

I had never tried using a sour dough method before.  I have now tried it out twice –  even as a former science student  – it felt like MAGIC! – the results were wonderful!

This recipe is adapted from one in found in my American book – Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert & Maria Syrybel.










It takes around 3 days to make 2 loaves.

I suppose I could halve the recipe but I am quite happy to cut and freeze any surplus and the bread keeps for several days and can always be toasted.


This recipe uses whey which I often have if I have made any twarog – curd cheese.

If I do not have any whey I make a mixture of around 2 parts yoghurt to 1 part water instead.


Day 1

At around 5 pm mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water in a bowl.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 24 hours.

Day 2

Again at around 5 pm,  mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water and the mixture from the night before in a bowl and leave overnight or around 12 hours.


Day 3

In the morning


350g rye flour

350g (strong) plain flour

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds

450 – 500ml  of whey  or a mixture of 2 parts yoghurt & 1 part water

Plus the starter mix from the days before


Combine all the ingredients together.

Aim for a “wet” mix – it is harder to handle but gives the best results.

Knead for around 5 minutes – longer if you can!


Shape the dough – cut  it in half and make 2 oval-shaped loaves and place them on greased baking trays or you can put them into tins – I used  a round – loose bottomed tin – 20cm in diameter in my second bake.

Leave to rise  for around 5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Place some water in a roasting tray at the bottom of the oven.


They take around 50 minutes to bake – I swap the two trays around after about 20 minutes.


Delicious with just butter – Well worth the wait!


Podpłomyczki – Polish Unleavened Bread

This is a very old recipe for an unleavened, flat bread  – that is one made without yeast.

In Polish, bread has to contain some rye flour, so these are not called bread as  they are made from wheat flour.

Podpłomyczki – płomyczek means flame  and pod means under – these would have originally been baked on stones placed on a camp fire.

The most original recipes are made with just flour, water and salt* and are cooked on a cast iron griddle – these I think are delicious.

I think podpłomyczki are cousins of  the  rotlis from Gujarat that my friend taught me how to make!

As well as this recipe I tried out two other versions.

The first had an egg added to the mixture – I do not think it was any better.

The second used eggs and milk rather than water and were made slightly thicker and one suggestion was to bake them in the oven.

I tried baking in the oven,  on a griddle, both thick and thin.  I thought they were all horrible!

So I am only writing up this one recipe which was really good.


250g plain flour

200ml water

1/2 teaspoon of salt.


Mix the flour and the salt.

Add the water and mix to form ball of soft dough.

Place the dough into a plastic bag and leave it for 30 minutes.

On a floured board flatten the dough into a thick circle.

Cut the dough into eight.


Form each peice into a ball and then roll this out thinly using a rolling pin.

Cook these using a cast iron frying pan or griddle.

Do not use any fat or oil.

Turn then over to cook both sides.

Bamboo tongs are very useful.

Watch as they puff up as the water in the dough turns to steam !

They are best eaten straight from the pan.

Otherwise wrap them in a tea towel to keep them warm.

I ate them with butter and with butter and honey – delicious!

* Salt – Polish Salt Mine &  Legend

In southern Poland there is one of the oldest salt mines in the world – the Wieliczka salt mine. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has produced salt since the 13th Century until 2007.

Legend has it that when Princess Kinga, a Hungarian Princess, became betrothed to Bolesław V,  Wstydliwy  (Bolesław V, the Chaste), Prince of Krakow, she asked for salt as her dowry and then threw her betrothal golden ring into a Hungarian mine.

On her arrival in Poland she asked a miner to dig in the ground and there he  found her golden ring inside a rock of  salt and that place became the site of the Wieliczka salt mine.

Because of her good works, Princess Kinga became Saint Kinga after her death.

Photos taken at Wieliczka