Rye bread to a Dane is like a baguette to a Frenchman. Although, outside of Denmark, and unlike the classic French stick, there seem to be endless techniques and combinations of ingredients in countless recipes for this iconic rye flour loaf. Everyone has a favourite – from pale off-white fluffy versions to those taking up to five days to complete and that end up weighing a ton. There are a few golden rules though: real Danish rye bread must use cracked rye (broken rye kernels), it must be heavy, when sliced, it should have an almost waxy, al dente interior, from the seeds and grains, and the flavour must be a deep malty one.
Rye is a variety of grass similar to wheat and barley. It is grown extensively as a grain crop in Northern Europe and Canada; the reason being it is very hardy and more tolerant to cold temperatures than other grains. It is rich in soluble fibre making it nice and healthy, but being low in gluten means it doesn’t rise well – giving the bread its famously dense texture.
This is an easy recipe that doesn’t require a starter, unlike the authentic version. You need to leave the rye and seeds to soak for 24 hours so begin making it the day before you need it.