Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Danish Rye Bread

I tried my hand at some 'real' Danish rye bread this week.   I had to bake some for the cooking demonstration (still trying to figure out how I got roped into baking the bread in the first place, I must have opened my mouth and volunteered), and decided to bake a practice loaf.

Got the sourdough starter going, letting it sit overnight seems to be the key.    I've actually made two attempts at the bread, both attempts the flavour was very good.   The second attempt, well, the bread just didn't rise as well as the first time I made it.   So, I'm going to make one more batch today, since the demo is tomorrow.   I think the batch I made yesterday is edible, but not great.  So I guess it will be the best one out of two that will be served tomorrow.

The sourdough sponge is easy, and I think is one of the reasons the bread itself has that lovely tang, that means rye bread to me.    The other reason, the buttermilk I use to mix in with the bread.

For starters, make your sponge the day before, or even two days if you can.
Sponge/Sourdough Starter:
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 pkg. yeast
1 scant tsp. sugar

Mix together in a larger bowl than you think you need, this stuff expands and will creep out of a small bowl and start walking across the counter if you don't.  (and no I really don't know how I know this, said as she looks up at the ceiling in total innocence.).

Measure out the rye flour and set aside.  I found out a bag of rye flour, the 850 gram size will yield enough for a large loaf of bread.

Measure out a 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 tsp. sugar and 1 packet  of yeast into a bowl.   Let sit until the yeast has softened and bloomed a little.   Or you can just add it to the sponge if you like, but I think the bread actually rises better if it has a chance to bloom a little on its own first.
Dump the sponge into a mixing bowl, or your Kitchenaid Mixer if you have one, add one cup of flour, and mix together.
 (pardon the picture, but the camera and I aren't that good a friend at 6:30 am).
Add the new yeast mixture, and mix til it's incorporated, then add the remainder of the room temperature buttermilk.   Mix, and add some of the flour, let the dough hook in your machine do the work, or just use your wooden spoon and muscles to mix it in.  Keep adding the flour until the dough reaches a stiff consistency.  Remove from Kitchenaid at this point and knead it just a little with the ¼ cup or so of white flour. Flatten the dough out, and fold over into thirds a couple of times.

This ensures that the dough is mixed and helps it to rise a little when you form it into a loaf or loaves. This will fill 1 regular size loaf pan, or make one large free form loaf. Form and let rise 45 minutes.

( I usually stick them in the oven at this point and let sit, no drafts) Prick with a fork, brush with a mixture of melted butter and water (about 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. water),

and let rise in oven that was preheated to 150 degrees for half an hour.  You do need to turn the oven off, and let the loaf sit in there.   Then turn on the oven on to 350 degrees and leave bread to bake for 1 hour on the middle rack. ***  I now turn the oven off at this point and let the bread sit in there for about another 30 minutes.   I wrap the bread in parchment paper and aluminum foil  when I take it out of the oven, it keeps the crust from getting too hard.

Let cool, and cut in very thin slices to serve. I like this bread the best the next day, it seems to get better when it has had a chance to sit.

If you have a sourdough starter already, go ahead and use that. The flavor will increase tremendously.


I've made this several times now, and wanted to change up the directions a little,  mainly because I've experimented a little more and I keep getting closer and closer to my idea of an ideal loaf of rye bread. 
And I am now trying to keep my sourdough starter in the fridge so I can make the rye bread when I want.  However, I found that if I take it out of the fridge, feed it with some more rye flour and water, then let it sit overnight or even two days, then feed it again, let it work a little before using half of it for the next loaf of bread.   This helps the flavour and the rise a lot.  

Sid Munkholm
Sid Munkholm

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.


  1. I like how you use buttermilk in your Rugbrød (Rye bread), it looks delicious.

  2. I like the tang the buttermilk gives the bread. Of course I'm still trying to perfect it. I'm going to try your recipe next.


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