Down up perspective view of a tree trunk with branches and green leaves on a sunny day
Food - Drink
The Bark Bread That Resulted From A Widespread Scandinavian Famine
What is Pettuleipä?
Pettuleipä, or Scandinavian bark bread, might sound like a flatbread resembling bark, but in actuality, it’s a bread literally made from tree bark. The bread is made from the soft, inner flesh of the tree which is then dried, roasted, and ground into "pettu" flour to be used in place of traditional flour when baking bread.
History of Pettuleipä
Pettuleipä bread gained popularity during the mid-17th century when a famine broke out throughout Sweden and Finland. However, bark had long been eaten by the Indigenous Samí people native to Scandinavia, who used the inner and outer bark of pine, spruce, and birch trees as a source of nutrition.
Pettuleipä is primarily made with pine bark, which may contain helpful antimicrobials and antioxidants, but in the past, the Samí people ate pine, spruce, or birch bark, with birch being especially valued for its nutrition. Today, you can still see the scars left on trees where the bark was harvested centuries ago.
How Does it Taste
Pettuleipä has a slightly sweet taste and can be green if made with bark taken from a living tree. If you’d like to try it and find yourself in Scandinavia, the family-run Ämän Leipä Oy, located in Finland, is one of the rare bakeries in the world that still makes pettuleipä, otherwise, you can try making it yourself.
How to Make It
Since pettu flour does not rise like glutinous wheat flour and has a harder time clinging together, it’s best not to use it as your only flour, and instead use it as a substitute for about 1/3 of your flour. Once you’ve got your dough, form it into the traditional, flat ring shape or a more familiar loaf and bake.