Sweet • Sour • Savory

Food blog on scandinavian style food done right.


Danish Rye Bread

BreadTove Balle-Pedersen4 Comments
Danish Rye Bread

Danish Rye Bread

Open-faced sandwich with roast beef 

Open-faced sandwich with roast beef 

Growing up in Denmark we had open-faced sandwiches for lunch every day. Like this Roast beef with horseradish, remoulade and pickles cucumber. OK this was not an everyday dish. Normally the sandwich was more simple, like liver pate with pickled beets or egg with mayo. 

Moving outside Scandinavia I was forced to figure out how I could get the Rye bread (Rugbrød).  

The easy way out was going to IKEA to get their Shake 'n Bake Rye Bread, and this was the route I went for the first years. 

Baking the Tartine Bread gave me an introduction to baking with sourdough, and it was a segway into baking Rye Bread from scratch.

I didn't want to make the same bread as my mom made back in the days. It was way too white, and looked more like a wheat bread than a rye bread. 

My inspiration came from Kvalimads Best Rye Bread.  I made some changes to his recipes. This is how I make the bread:

Sourdough starter: 

Allmost all bakers of the danish rye bread has their own sourdough starter. Many people get the starter from a friend or relative. A starter can last for decades if treated right.

I opted for the easy way out, buying a starter from King Arthur Flour, and fed it with half rye and wheat flour. By now my starter is a year old, and some of my friends got some of it. It takes a couple of bakes to get the right acidity and taste if you start your own starter from scratch.


This recipe makes 2 big rye bread. 



Sourdough leaven: 

  • 200 g sourdough/starter (the starter you keep in the refrigerator and feed every other week) 
  • 400 g water
  • 125 g rye flour
  • 135 g all-purpose flour


  • 1600 g water
  • 600 g sourdough leaven
  • 265 g rye berries (hele rugkerner)
  • 150 g cracked rye (knækkede rygkerner)
  • 75 g flax seeds
  • 75 g sunflower seeds
  • 275 g wheat berries (hard red spring wheat berries) (hele hvedekerner)
  • 170 g bulgur (100% whole grain quick cooking bulgur wheat)
  • 375 g rye flour (dark rye flour)
  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoon (57 g) salt
  • a splash coloring/kulør - optional
  • Topping pumpin seeds, 


    Day 1, morning: 

    The process 

    The process 

    Feed the starter to make the leaven. The leaven is ready to use when the leaven is bubbleing and smells like beer - after about 8 hours at room temperature. Cover the leaven with a clean towel. 

    Soak the rye- and wheat-berries and seed in water in a large bow (I use to bowl because of the big amount). Cover the bowl with a large plate. Let them soak at room temperature until the leaven is ready.

    Day 1,


    Save about 200g leaven and put it aside in a sealed container. This will be your sourdough starter for the next batch of bread. It will keep without feeding for about 14 days in the refrigerator. 

    Add the leaven to the soaked berries and seed. Cover the bowl with a large plate. Let the mixture ferment overnight at room temperature . 


    Day 2, morning: 

    Add the salt, coloring and the flour to the dough and mix thoroughly, to make sure all the flour is fully incorporated, let rise for about two hours.

    Eva Professionel rye bread tin

    Eva Professionel rye bread tin

    Add the dough to two rye bread baking forms. (I use Eva Professionel Rye Bread Tin which holds 3,3 liters).

    Let the bread rise for about an hour, covered with a clean towel. The longer you let it rise, the more sour the bread becomes.

    Poke a few holes with a cake tester or knitting needle, to  prevent the crust to rise and crack.

    Brush the bread with water and sprinkle with pumpkin or sesame seeds.

    Place the baking form in a preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes at 350°F. 

    Turn off the heat, remove the breads from the baking forms, spray with water on all sides and place them back in the oven directly on the rack for about an hour while the oven cools.

    Take the breads out and wrap them in an clean kitchen towel. This will help softening the crust. Let breads cool completely.

    It's best to wait cutting the bread until the next day. 

    Enjoy the bread with your favorite deli meat or cheese. 


    Testing the leaven the man in the cup showed up. 

    The man in the cup

    The man in the cup