In my top three of foods I miss the most from Denmark, you will definitely find rye bread, or ‘rugbrød’ in Danish. Since moving to Canada almost three years ago, I’ve not yet been able to find any type of bread that comes even close to resembling classic Danish rye bread. I did once buy a rye bread from an Danish bakery store here in Toronto, but I have to say even that, despite its original recipe, was rather a disappointment. Luckily, I dug up this old recipe for rye bread with beer in one of my grandma’s old collections of recipes. It’s heavenly and it just tastes like home!
The only whole grain used in the original recipe was rye berries, which is probably because other grains were not common or available back in the day. But I’ve adjusted the recipe and updated it slightly to adhere both to my own preferences and more modern tastes. Thus, I’ve substituted some of the rye berries with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds. While these happen to be some of my personal favorite seeds, you can easily substitute them with your own favorites.
Now, instead of yeast or sourdough, this recipe uses beer and yoghurt. And honestly, it saves you a lot of trouble of having to feed a sourdough for days, or even weeks, to make it happy and cooperative. Since you’re not using yeast either when you make this rye bread with beer, it’s crucial, however, that you let the dough rest in the fridge till the next day before baking it. But if you’re in a rush, you could add a little yeast and thereby cut down the resting time to a couple of hours.
Rye bread with beer (yields 2 loaves)
1 lager or pilsner type of beer (11 oz/330 ml)
1 porter beer or dark ale (11 oz/330 ml)
6 oz (175 ml) plain yogurt, preferably 2% fat
1.7 oz (50 ml) molasses (dark syrup)
5 oz (150 ml) water
2 tbsp salt
4 oz (125 g) pumpkin seeds
4 oz (125 g) sunflower seeds
5 oz (150 g) chia seeds
10 oz (300 g) crushed rye berries
1.5 lbs (700 g) rye flour
7 oz (200 g) whole wheat flour
Optional: ½ tbsp crushed fennel seeds
1. Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then mix the water, yoghurt, molasses and beer in a large jug or bowl. Now pour the liquid mass into the dry mix while stirring. Knead the dough well either by hand or using an electric dough mixer.
2. Divide the dough evenly into two bread bread forms. Smear the surface of the loaves even (it might be easier if you use a little water). Cover the bread forms and leave them to rest in the fridge until the next day.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). If you like, drizzle the loaves with your favorite seed before baking. (In the picture I’ve used chia seeds). Then bake the loaves for 2 hours, and after that, carefully take the loaves out of the forms and bake for another 10-15 minutes. That will give them a nice crust. Ideally, you should let the rye bread rest for about 4-5 hours before you begin slicing it. You can easily freeze half or whole loaves depending how fast you consume them.
Need ideas for great toppings for your rye bread with beer? Or, maybe you’d like to try other classic Danish baking recipes? Here are some suggestions: