Nordic Rye Bread
This dark and hearty Nordic Rye Bread is similar to the loaves found in Iceland, Finland, and Scandinavia that are delicious on their own or with soup. It comes together quickly, with no kneading required! Plus, it uses rye and only rye flour.
What is Rye
Rye is a type of cereal grain. It's grown all over the world, especially in the European Union where it is an ingredient in bread, medicines, beer, and rye whiskey. It is higher in fiber and lower in gluten than its cousin, wheat.
When milled into flour, rye falls into a few different categories depending on what from the rye kernel is left in or sifted out. The bran is the outer skin, the endosperm is the center, and the germ is the tiny core. White rye is the lightest flour containing just the endosperm, medium rye contains the bran and endosperm, while dark rye contains all parts of the kernel.
Central, Northern, and Eastern European countries each have their versions of rye bread. You’ve probably seen Americanized versions of these at your local grocery store.
- German Pumpernickel. Dark rye flour and a sourdough starter make up this bread. It is very dark brown.
- Jewish rye bread. Americans are most familiar with this style of rye bread. Yeast and a combination of wheat and rye flour are ingredients. It is often flavored with ground or whole caraway seeds and is popular for deli sandwiches.
- Russian rye bread. Made with dark rye, wheat, molasses, and a sourdough starter, this bread is very dark brown. It has a tangy flavor because of the sourdough starter and is often baked in round loaves.
The Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden also bake rye breads. For the most part, these Nordic versions are dense, mildly sweet breads that may or may not contain yeast or a sourdough starter. Finland even has a special rye bread day celebration every February 28 called ruisleivän päivä.
This recipe is based on the Icelandic rye bread, rúgbrauð, which uses only baking powder and baking soda for leavening. The resulting bake is a deliciously dense loaf with a tight crumb that does not fall apart when slathered with butter or dipped in soups like this one.
- You don’t have buttermilk? Boo. If you need a sub, add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to one cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Why the baking sheet on top of the loaf while it’s baking? It helps keep the bread from rising too much. This is a dense loaf that bakes low and slow. If you have a lidded Pullman loaf pan, you are a baking superstar and can use that.
- Because this bread is dense, it cuts nicely when cool. Thin slices are best!
Many thanks to King Arthur Baking for the Icelandic rye bread recipe.Print
- 4 ½ cups medium rye flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup molasses
- Preheat the oven to 325F/163C. Move the rack to the center slot of the oven. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside. Have a baking sheet available next to it.
- Stir the rye flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, honey, and molasses, stirring until combined.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until no dry areas remain. Scrape the dough into the loaf pan and level off the top. Lightly grease the underside of the baking sheet just on the rectangle area where it will sit on top of the loaf pan. Place the loaf pan in the oven and put the baking sheet on top of it, greased area down covering the loaf pan.
- Bake for 2 hours (yes, really). After 2 hours, turn off the oven. Remove the baking sheet but leave the bread in the oven to sit for 15 minutes. Turn the bread out of the loaf pan onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. Once cool, cut with a serrated knife into thin ¼-inch thick slices. Serve with soups, cucumber slices, cheese, or tinned fish.
- Bread stays fresh stored in a Ziploc bag at room temperature for a week or in the freezer for three to six months.
Keywords: Nordic rye bread