Sour Danish rugbrød is just barely leavened, dense in flavor as well as texture, and full of crunchy seeds and grains.
A slow-fermented rye starter gives the bread its signature earthy acidity. Building your own rye starter is easier than you think, so if you have the time, try making your own. If you’re in a hurry, stop by your local bakery and ask nicely. Most bakers are happy to share a bit of sample starter to jump-start a good customer’s home baking project. This home recipe also includes a small percentage of dry instant yeast; this added leavening acts as insurance against irregularities in home starters.
For the soaker and sourdough:
- 1 cup cracked rye kernels
- 1⁄3 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp. mature rye sourdough starter
- 1 cup wholegrain rye flour
For the bread:
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. wholegrain rye flour
- 2 tsp. malt syrup
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. instant yeast
- Vegetable oil, for greasing
- In a small bowl, mix ¾ cup cold water, the rye kernels, and the seeds. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let soak at room temperature for 24 hours.
- In a separate bowl, mix the sourdough starter and ⅓ cup water. Add the rye flour and mix until fully absorbed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 24 hours.
- In a medium bowl, mix the soaked grains and ½ cup of the sourdough starter, then add the rye flour, ¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp (3 ½ fl. oz.) water, the malt syrup, salt, and yeast. Using your hands, mix the dough until the ingredients are evenly combined, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)
- Grease a 9×4-inch loaf pan with oil. Add the dough, flattening it into an even layer with a spatula. Set in a warm place until the loaf has gained 30% volume or has risen to ¾ inches below the top of the pan, 2-3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 360° at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Transfer the loaf pan to the oven and bake until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 210°, about 80 minutes.
- Remove the loaf from the pan and set on a cooling rack. Let cool overnight before slicing or serving. Bread can be stored in a paper bag at room temperature for up to one week, or frozen in a plastic bag for up to two months. Serve thinly sliced.