Authentic Danish rye bread

Authentic Danish rye bread

By
From
The New Nordic
Photographer
Simon Bajada

Rye bread to a Dane is like a baguette to a Frenchman. Although, outside of Denmark, and unlike the classic French stick, there seem to be endless techniques and combinations of ingredients in countless recipes for this iconic rye flour loaf. Everyone has a favourite – from pale off-white fluffy versions to those taking up to five days to complete and that end up weighing a ton. There are a few golden rules though: real Danish rye bread must use cracked rye (broken rye kernels), it must be heavy, when sliced, it should have an almost waxy, al dente interior, from the seeds and grains, and the flavour must be a deep malty one. Rye is a variety of grass similar to wheat and barley. It is grown extensively as a grain crop in Northern Europe and Canada; the reason being it is very hardy and more tolerant to cold temperatures than other grains. It is rich in soluble fibre making it nice and healthy, but being low in gluten means it doesn’t rise well – giving the bread its famously dense texture.

Rye bread sourdough starter

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g coarse wholemeal rye flour
400ml warm water
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

To feed the starter

Quantity Ingredient
100g coarse wholemeal rye flour
100ml cold water

Method

  1. Mix all the starter ingredients together in a bowl with a generous pinch of salt. It should have a wet mud-like consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and punch some holes in the plastic wrap so the starter can breathe. Leave at room temperature for 2 days.
  2. On the third day, feed the starter by stirring through the rye flour and cold water. Leave for another day or two in the same manner, until it starts bubbling. Now it’s ready!
  3. You can store this sourdough starter in the refrigerator. Every week discard half of the starter. Then add 125 ml water and just 220 g plain (all-purpose) flour. Be sure to mix in some air while combining these and leave at room temperature for a couple of hours before returning to the refrigerator.

The bread

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
300g cracked rye
100g peptitas
50g linseeds
50g sunflower seeds
500ml cold water
25g fresh yeast
200ml warm water
400g wet sourdough starter
2 tablespoons malt
20g salt
400g coarse wholemeal rye flour
sunflower oil, for greasing

Method

  1. Day 1 Combine the cracked rye and all the seeds in a mixing bowl. Add the cold water, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12–24 hours.
  2. Day 2 Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and pour over the warm water. Stir gently, breaking apart any large lumps. Set aside for a few minutes.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture into the soaked rye and seeds along with the sourdough starter, malt and salt.
  4. Gradually add the flour and keep mixing for 5–8 minutes, until you have a sore arm and a heavy cement-like dough that falls from the spoon if you lift it from the bowl. (If you have a dough mixer, use it for this stage: it will save a lot of energy. Set it on the lowest speed for 8 minutes, scraping down the side regularly.)
  5. Grease the insides of two 25 cm x 10 cm loaf tins with sunflower oil. Divide the dough between the tins and smooth over the tops. Keep in a very warm place for 2½ hours to rise.
  6. When you’re ready to bake the breads, preheat the oven to 180°C and cook the loaves for 1 hour 10 minutes. They won’t have risen dramatically but there should be a visible crack along the top of each loaf.
  7. Turn the loaves out of their tins on to a wire rack. If their bases or sides are still a bit moist, cook the breads upside down without their tins in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. This can take 2–3 hours depending on the environment.
Tags:
Nordic
Scandinavian
Scandi
Swedish
Sweden
Denmark
Danish
Norway
Norwegian
Finland
Finnish
Iceland
Icelandic
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