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Danish Rye Bread Method

Danish Rye Breads

The whole process takes around four days if you start from scratch and produces 5-6 loaves, 800-950g each.

Step 1 - Sour dough starter

  • 5 g fresh yeast
  • 200 g luke-warm water
  • 110 g rye flour (type as preferred, e.g. Shipton's Organic Dark Rye Flour)
  • 3 g salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the flour and stir to a uniform consistency, for a couple of minutes. Add the salt and dissolve. Leave for two days covered with film - leave room for expansion.

Step 2 - Sour dough

  • The sour dough starter from Step 1
  • 1500 g luke-warm water
  • 35 g syrup (e.g. good Canadian maple)
  • 1000 g rye flour (as above)
  • 500 g cracked rye kernels, e.g. Shipton's Cut Malted Rye Grains
  • 8 g salt

Add the syrup to the sour dough starter, then water, rye flour, kernels and salt and mix the dough with the hands, passing it through the fingers around 100 times (you can of course use a mixer with a bread hook or K mixer but using your hands is better). Cover with cling film and leave for 24 hours in a nice warm place. Make sure the dough has space to expand - it can get quite messy if not.

Step 3 - Rye bread dough

  • The sour dough from Step 2
  • 500 g water, boiling
  • 500 cracked kernels (can be rye grains or something else, use lighter kernels for a lighter loaf)
  • 500 g rye flour, e.g. Shipton's Organic Dark Rye Flour
  • 20 g fresh yeast
  • 20-40 g luke-warm water

Pour the boiling water over the kernels and let them cool down until luke-warm (important). The ratio between water and kernels depends somewhat on the type of kernels used - just add a bit more water later in case the dough becomes too dense.

Line four or five 1kg bread tins with baking paper (or oil them if non-stick).

Dissolve the yeast in the luke-warm water and add to the sour dough, then the (now luke-warm) kernels, and finally the flour. Pass through your fingers for 100 times (or use a mixer with a bread hook or K mixer - the hands are best, though).

Distribute the dough between the tins so that they are about half full. Use a fork to make a pattern in the top (this is important if you experience that the top crust splits away from the bulk of the loaf, making the bread hard to cut). Leave to prove for 2-3 hours, until the dough reaches the top of the tins, then bake for around 2 hours at 200 degrees (gas mark 6). The baking time/temperature combination is not very critical but of course it is an advantage to know your oven.

The loaves can be removed from the tins ten minutes before finished and baked upside down outside the tins for the last ten minutes to create nice surfaces on all sides.

This is an excellent type of Danish rye bread. As described here it is very dark and malty. It is eminently tasty with strong cheeses, all types of pickled herring, Danish liver paste, salty food of all types, and it can be used as the base for rye bread soup.

Try using different types of kernels and rye flour types. Part of the water may be replaced with a good solid stout, e.g. Shepherd Neame's Double Stout. It is easy to adjust sweetness and maltiness as well as how sour you want the finished bread and you can use this method as the basis for many types of bread.

If you don't want to start all over each time you bake it, just reserve around 400g of the sour dough before starting step 3 and start at step 2 next time.