Scandinavian Rye Bread by Thraundil at Sourdough Companion

Still searching for a great way to make rye bread like the stuff in Denmark, I made this recipe. It proved tasty (and easy) so trying it again, this time with wheat grains.

Rye berries from Denmark

The Dough

Ingredient Weight US Volume Bakers Percentage
Wholegrain rye flour* 700 g 24.69 oz 5.49 cups 100.00%
Cracked rye grains 500 g 17.64 oz 2.2 cups 71.43%
Water* see text 1000 g 35.27 oz 4.24 cups 142.86% (hydration)
Established rye starter 150 g 5.29 oz 1.18 cups 21.43%
Salt 25 g 0.88 oz 1.76 tbspns 3.57%
Optional: Various bird seeds* see text 150 g 5.29 oz 0.66 cups 21.43%
Optional: Malt syrup, honey, or other sweetener. 14 g 0.49 oz 0.96 tbspns 2.00%
Total Weight: 2539 grams / 89.56 ounces
Total Flour Weight: 700 grams / 24.69 ounces



Rye starter: As with most other starters, mix equal parts wholegrain rye flour and water, 50g of each, and set in a warm spot (25 deg works). Every day feed it a little flour and water in equal parts and stir it up. Within a few days it should start producing bubbles, a few days more it will rise in volume. This is where you take a tablespoon full of your new starter and feed up with fresh flour and water. Rinse and repeat a few times, rye starters are usually very easy to maintain, very tolerant towards stress and fast to get going! A lot easier than those pesky wheat starters (Dont tell my starter I said that). 


Day one – the sponge: 

I like to do this in the eveningtime, since the timings line up for an evening bake on the following day. I grab my jar of rye sourdough starter right out of the fridge. In one bowl I mix aprox 400 g of wholegrain rye flour, some 5-600 ml of water, and the contents of my sourdough jar. I do not scrape the jar very thoroughly, for reasons explained in a moment. Yes, this is a lot of water, but the rye flour I use also absorb a lot of water, and I find this amount to really make the sponge rise nice and delicious. I mix the whole thing thoroughly.


In another bowl I put 500 g cracked rye grains. Fill the old sourdough jar halfway with water, screw on the lid and shake until all the remnants of sourdough starter is dissolved. I pour this over the grains, stir, and add water so that the grains are just covered (consult photo), not more. Too much water will result in the need of too much flour on day two to soak the water, resulting in a “less grainy” loaf. The addition of some starter to the grain mix will start a slow development of additional, great grain taste and acid in the grains 🙂


Now, all there is left to do is to wash the jar, and from the first bowl imidiately take around an equal volume of sourdough as you originally had. Screw the jar shut and put in the fridge; this guy can keep for 3-4 weeks and still be good as new when you wish to bake.

Cover both bowls with a slightly damp cloth and let the sourdough magic work overnight.


Day two – mix and bake:

The following day, the sponge should have risen considerably in volume, and smell nice and sour. In principle, you can bake as soon as it has risen to around double, but I like to wait until the sponge is just barely starting to reduce in volume again, I find this enhances the sour taste of rye that I so worship.

I mix the now soaked rye grains into the sponge, along with ~25g salt, any sweetener I might use (I often put a tablespoon of malt syrup in), and any bird seeds. You can use whichever bird seeds you like, or omit them entirely. I find that a handful (aprox 150g) of sunflower seeds makes the bread stay juicy and moist for a longer amount of time. This is actually the only reason I add bird seeds – if the bread had the same staying power with as without, I would do 100% flour 😉 but as I am just me, it takes me some time to get through an entire loaf.

Stir thoroughly for a minute or so, to allow the salt to dissolve. It sounds like a lot of salt for a loaf of this size, but it works in the end. Now, add more wholegrain rye flour until the consistency of the dough is right. This is not easy to have a precise measurement for due to the above mentioned reasons, but the dough should just barely still stick to your finger when you press it deep into the dough bulk (see pictures).


Having achieved the right feel of the dough, start putting it into a baking tin (or two, if you want smaller loaves). I use a 11x11x30 cm baking tin, and the above recipe produces dough that fills this nicely. Make sure to “mash” the dough into the corners, it is vital that no pockets of air persist in the packed dough. The tin should be filled no more than two thirds to the top. Smoothen out the upper surface when done and cover with a damp cloth for the final rise. This takes anywhere from two to five hours, depending on weather and temperature. A day of winter and high air pressure, it might take 5. On a relatively warm summer day with low air pressure, a loaf can rise in just 2 hours. It should reach the top of the tin – thats when you know it is ready for the oven. Put the tin in a cold oven, turn it on to 200 deg celcious and bake for 2 hours. Then remove the loaf from the tin, and wrap a damp cloth arond it; the moisture from the cloth will be absorbed into the crust and help soften it up slightly. Leave overnight before you cut it, as the baking process is not done until the bread is cooled off entirely.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hilda says:

    You have some good tips here for baking this sort of bread – very helpful. I am trying to record all the details.

  2. C Ward says:

    This recipe is also a great way to keep your sourdough start refreshed.

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