Danish Sourdough Rye Bread (Rugbrød)

Danes are known for their rye bread, which is called Rugbrød. Danes consider this bread to be healthy.

Rugbrød (rye bread) is a big part of our everyday food here in Denmark and probably in most danish families. We eat it for lunch, in the lunch boxes, sometimes for quick dinner, and special occasions like Christmas lunch or Easter lunch.

Here in Denmark, we have dozens of variations of rye bread. Some of them are thin or thick, sweet, and dense, loaded with seeds and kernels. But this one is different. Instead of the sweetness, my rye bread has a sour taste because of the sourdough starter I have used and fewer kernels because my family doesn’t like dense bread. That’s why I love baking our rye bread because I can decide what grains and seeds to put in. 👍😊

It is straightforward to bake Danish Rye Bread (Rugbrød), and although it takes time because most of the time, it goes with the raising. I twist the traditional baking method by fermenting a pre-dough at room temperature overnight while I’m sleeping. After preparing my pre-dough, I also soak the kernels that I will use for my rye bread and leave it overnight.

The next day, I will mix all the ingredients and transfer the dough mixture into my standard loaf pan. Then wait for my dough to rise until I can see some broken bubbles on top. 😊

Super easy sourdough bread – there is no need for gluten development or shaping.

Broken Bubbles – Sign that your rye bread is ready to bake.

My starting point for this recipe was Sune Trudslev’s Danish rye bread recipe. But I substitute the sourdough starter (I used my rye and wheat flour starter), use fewer seeds or kernels, and dark syrup instead of malt syrup.

Sourdough in Rye Bread

Sourdough works primarily in the same way as yeast; namely, it causes the bread to rise. In short, the sourdough contains yeast cells containing microorganisms, and it is in the fermentation that releases carbon dioxide, which causes the dough to grom and rise most beautifully. Also, baking rye bread with sourdough gives the bread its characteristic flavor and helps preserve the bread for much longer than regular yeast bread.

To make homemade sourdough bread, you will need an active, mature sourdough starter. If you don’t have a starter, please check out my simple sourdough starter recipe.

As for this Danish Sourdough Rye Bread, it is a sourdough starter that causes rye bread to rise, and the longer the bread rises, the more acidic it will be. The dough won’t rise much, and during the cold months, you may find that the dough does not rise dramatically. Sourdough is a living organism and behaves a little differently, including by temperature. Therefore, you may find that the bread may need to rise for a longer period of time, up to, for example, 20 hours if it is too cold.

Equipment For Making The Danish Rye Bread

You will need:

  • A 3-liter non-stick rye bread form. If you don’t have this or can’t get your hands on one, try to find a bread form with a 3-liter volume. If not, you will probably have to adjust quantities and baking time. I don’t have a 3-liter bread form; that’s why I used my two regular bread forms and baked my bread shorter than usual whenever I’m baking rye bread.
  • Or a 9-inch Pullman pan is best for this bread. It has a nice lid that you can slide to create a flat top. If you don’t have this one, any bread form will still work just as well. But your bread will have a domed top like mine, which would be just fine.
  • Use a digital scale and measure your ingredients in grams, so you get consistent results.
  • Mixing bowls for soaking the seeds, fermenting the levain or starter + clean linen cloth for covering the bowls + a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon for mixing the dough.
  • A shower cap or a plastic bag for covering the loaf pan while proofing.
  • A digital thermometer to determine when the bread is ready.

My First Sourdough Danish Rye Bread

When I first baked my rye bread, my dough rose high enough in my loaf pan. Therefore, I change the recipe to fits my loaf pan (26×11.5×7.5cm).

Store Your Bread Properly

Let the freshly baked sourdough danish rye bread cool on a wire rack until it is at room temperature, then wrapped in film or parchment paper. So, the bread stays juicy and does not dry out.

Rye bread should never store in the fridge. The rye bread can quickly feel dry if you store it in the fridge, but the shelf life is longer than if you store it at room temperature.

If you want to store it in the freezer, you can advantageously cut the bread into slices, put them in a freezer bag, and put them in the freezer. When you then have to prepare lunches in the morning, you take the slices out of the freezer than you need.

Danish Rye Bread Shelf Life

If your rye bread is baked with a well-functioning sourdough, you will find that it has a long shelf life, up to 14 days.

When Should I Slice My Rye Bread?

To avoid slices that crumble or fall apart, allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. If you cut it too soon, it will be unpleasantly gummy.

If you want to slice the bread while it is hot, moisten the bread knife with water every time you cut a slice. Remember not to squeeze the knife through the bread, but just to slice with a light hand.

If you can wait until the following day, let the bread sit at room temperature overnight before slicing.

This recipe will make 1 medium-sized rye bread (26×11.5×7.5cm). You can also make 2 smaller loaves with this recipe, using smaller loaf pans. You decide how big you want your rye bread to be. Just remember to fill the loaf pan about 2/3 full, so there is still room for the dough to rise.

Bake the bread until the internal temperature reaches 97 to 98 degrees Celcius (208F to 210F).

Please check out my other sourdough bread recipes

Sourdough discard recipes

Quick tips and notes:

  • This recipe will make 1 medium-sized rye bread (26×11.5×7.5cm). You can also make 2 smaller loaves with this recipe, using smaller loaf pans. You decide how big you want your rye bread to be. Just remember to fill the loaf pan about 2/3 full, so there is still room for the dough to rise. 👍
  • I have used a fewer amount of seeds or kernels and dark syrup instead of malt syrup.
  • For kernels, you can use sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia, and sesame seeds.
  • For the syrup, you can use maple syrup, honey, or malt syrup.
  • To make homemade sourdough bread, you will need an active, mature sourdough starter. If you don’t have a starter, please check out my simple sourdough starter recipe: https://youtu.be/UhgU0W7GfE4
  • Bake the bread until the internal temperature reaches 97 to 98 degrees Celcius (208F to 210F).
  • Please keep it in an airtight container or a plastic bag and rest on the counter for 24 to 48 hours. If you slice too soon, you will end up with a gummy interior.

I hope you will try this Sourdough Danish Rye Bread recipe; I really look forward to hearing about how it goes. Send me your comments if you do. There’s a comment box at the bottom of this page. 😊

Danish Sourdough Rye Bread (Rugbrød)

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You will need:

For the soaker

  • 200 grams cracked rye kernels
  • 300 grams hot water

For the pre-dough

  • 125 grams sourdough starter 100% hydration
  • 100 grams rye flour
  • 50 grams bread flour
  • 350 grams water, lukewarm

For the main dough

  • All the levain or starter
  • All of the soakers, drain the excess water
  • 330 grams rye flour
  • 130 grams bread flour
  • 200 grams water, lukewarm
  • 20 grams salt
  • 50 grams dark syrup

Tools and equipment

  • 2 mixing bowls
  • mature and active sourdough starter
  • spatula
  • 1 bread form (26×11.5×7.5cm)
  • vegetable oil, for greasing the loaf pan (or use parchment paper)
  • shower cap or plastic bag and clip, for covering the dough while resting

Procedure (video):

The evening before baking: Prepare the starter and soak the kernels

  1. Prepare the pre-dough: Add all the ingredients for the pre-dough in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly until there no dry bits of flour remaining. Then cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature overnight.

    Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store it according to preference. 
  2. Soak the kernels or seeds: Meanwhile, in a bowl, submerge the cracked kernels in water, cover it with a kitchen towel, and soak them overnight. Drain the seed mixture before using the main dough and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The next day: Mix and bake

  1. Mix the ingredients: In the bowl with the pre-dough, sift rye and bread flour, add the remaining ingredients. Mix well with a sturdy spatula. Make sure you mix thoroughly so there are no dry bits of flour remaining, and the seeds are well incorporated.

Bulk fermentation

  1. Grease your loaf pan with vegetable oil (or you can also lined your loaf pan with parchment paper)and scoop out the dough into your pan, filling them about 2/3 full. Tap the loaf pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Loosely cover it with a shower cap or clean plastic bag seal clip, and prove the dough at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours in a warm place (until the dough rises a bit above the top of the loaf pan, rounded-puffy at the edges, and you will see numerous broken bubbles on top when the dough is ready to bake), depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the dough.

Baking

  1. 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven (up and down the heat) to 240 degrees Celcius (465F).
  2. Before baking, gently brush the dough’s tops with water, then place the loaf pan in the preheated oven 240 degrees Celcius (465F) (uncovered) for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celcius (350F) and bake the bread for 30 to 60 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 97 to 98 degrees Celcius (206F to 208F). Check the bread’s internal temperature after 30 minutes of baking.
  4. Once the rye bread is done baking, please remove it from the oven. Gently remove the bread from the pan and let sit on a wire rack until cool. Please keep it in an airtight container or a plastic bag and rest on the counter for 24 to 48 hours. If you slice too soon, you will end up with a gummy interior.

Notes:

  • The dough won’t rise much, and if you don’t see any bubbles after 2 hours, then keep waiting up to 8 hours. During the cold months, you may find that the dough does not rise dramatically. Sourdough is a living organism and behaves a little differently, including by temperature. Therefore, you may find that the bread may need to rise for a longer period of time, up to, for example, 20 hours if it is too cold.
  • For kernels, you can use sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia, and sesame seeds.
  • For the syrup, you can use maple syrup, honey, or malt syrup.
 

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4 Comments

  1. This sounds like a great bread! I also saw Sune’s method for Danish bread and am wondering IF I do not have rye kernels, can I substitute seeds in the same weight in grams? (mix of flax, sunflower, black and white sesame, and fennel seeds)? I suppose the seeds should ALSO BE soaked overnight (do you use boiling water or just room temp)? Lastly, I don’t use bread flour so will try whole wheat + rye as in your amounts Thanks for the accompanying photos, they help a lot!

     
    • Hi Harley, thanks for your comment. Yes, my family loves this sourdough rye bread, and we eat this bread every day.
      And if you don’t have cracked rye kernels, you can substitute using other kinds of kernels like flax, sunflower, sesame, sunflower seeds.
      Yes, seeds or kernels should be soaked overnight, and I use room temp water.
      And lastly, yes, you can use whole wheat and rye (healthier option ), and you also soak the flour and water overnight. This also helps to soften the whole wheat flour.
      Hehehe yes, I included some photos for this recipe to guide others who haven’t tried baking danish sourdough rye bread. ❤

       
      • Cool! Thanks for the fast reply! I just added 300gm water to soak my mixed seeds overnight and will prepare the ‘levain” tonight with rye / wheat flour. For the main loaf (tomorrow) I may use 360gm rye flour and 100gm wheat – since there is no gluten development or shaping to do I can add a bit more water IF needed (usually whole grain flour needs more water than bread flour)…anyway, I will bake tomorrow and let it rest in sealed bag all day and then cut it on Saturday! Is there a way to post photos (if you want to see)? Thanks again!

         

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