With the weather being decidedly Nordic at the moment, I felt like it was the right time to share this recipe for dark and brooding Danish rye bread.
Rye bread is a staple of most Scandinavian breakfast and lunch tables. As one of my favourite Scandinavian cooks, Trine Hahnemann, notes in her book Scandinavian Baking, “there would be no smørrebrød, the classic Danish lunch, without rye bread”. She’s so right: lunch in Denmark would not be the same without thin slices of rye bread stacked with pickled vegetables, herring, potatoes, and eggs, making an appearance.
I adapted the recipe from Green Kitchen Stories, which if you haven’t read it before, is a really awesome blog run by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl about their wholesome vegetarian life in Stockholm, and beyond (see their book, Green Kitchen Travels).
If you have trouble getting your hands on fresh yeast, you can, of course, substitute dried yeast instead, or place an order with the always excellent Scandinavian Kitchen who usually have lots of fresh in supply.
Note: start this recipe 2 days (yes, really) before you want to eat the bread, as it needs two overnight rests to reach its tasty peak.
Yeasted dark Danish rye bread // Dansk rågbröd (adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)
- 190g cracked rye grains
- 60g sunflower seeds
- 500ml boiling water
- 250ml organic live yoghurt
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or clear runny honey)
- 15g sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
- 5 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (or carob powder)
- 25g fresh yeast (4 teaspoons dried yeast)
- 400g stoneground rye flour
- 200g wholemeal spelt flour, plus a little extra for sprinkling
In a roomy bowl, add the cracked rye, sunflower seeds, and water and set aside for about an hour to soak.
Add to the soaker; the yeast, yoghurt, maple syrup, sea salt, fennel seeds, and cocoa powder, and mix the whole thing into a dark slop. Mix in the rye flour first, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Then add the spelt flour and give it a mix to incorporate everything. It’s not the sort of bread to knead as it’s way too wet, so expect it to still be quite loose at this point.
Grease 3 x 450g (1lb) loaf tins liberally with butter, and spoon in equal quantities of the mixture to each. Wet the spoon a little, to stop it sticking, and use the back to smooth down the top of each loaf, before sprinkling with a little extra spelt flour.
Rest the tins in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 4 hours), covered with a clean tea towel, to allow the flavour to develop slowly.
In the morning, remove the bread from the fridge and let it come back to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C, and bake the loaves for 45 minutes, until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Let the bread rest, wrapped in a tea towel, for a day before cutting for the best flavour.