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A Simple Danish Rye Bread


Simon Bajada is an Australian food and lifestyle photographer who relocated to Stockholm in 2012 with his Swedish wife, Linda.  Here, Simon developed a great interest in Scandinavian cuisine – a passion which has culminated in a new book entitled The New Nordic, published by Hardie Grant, out this month.

Today Simon shares his recipe for a simple Danish rye bread – a surprisingly easy recipe that doesn’t require a starter, unlike the authentic version. (Both versions are included in Simon’s book, but the ease of this ‘simple’ one appealed to us!). The resulting loaf is dense and malty, just waiting to be piled high with any number of toppings for a quick and easy lunch.

9th June, 2015
Simon Bajada
Tuesday 9th June 2015

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.

Ingredients (Makes 1 x 800g Loaf)

  • 150g cracked rye
  • 75g sunflower seeds
  • 75g linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 480ml cold water
  • 250g wholemeal rye flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons golden syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon malt
  • Sunflower oil, for greasing


Day 1 Combine the cracked rye, sunflower seeds and linseeds together in a bowl with 300ml of the water. Cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel), lid or plastic wrap, but don’t make it airtight, and leave to soak at room temperature for 18–24 hours.

In a second bowl, mix the wholemeal rye flour with the yeast and the remaining 180ml of cold water. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside at room temperature for 18–24 hours.

Day 2 Combine the two mixtures together, adding the salt, golden syrup or honey, and malt. Knead together thoroughly for at least 5 minutes; all the ingredients need to be well combined and evenly distributed. The dough will be wet, like cement, and it should fall off your hands if held up.

Grease a 25 cm x 10 cm (10 in x 4 in) loaf (bar) tin with sunflower oil. Transfer the dough to the tin and smooth over the surface. Leave in a warm place for 2–3 hours, until the dough has risen to the rim of the tin.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and cook the loaf for about 1 hour 20 minutes. It won’t have risen dramatically but there should be a visible crack along the top of the loaf.

Remove from the oven and turn the loaf out on to a wire rack. If the base and sides are still a bit moist, cook the bread upside down without its tin in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the wire rack. This can take 2–3 hours, depending on the environment. The loaf will stay fresh for 3 or 4 days if it is stored in a paper bag at room temperature.

The New Nordic by Simon Bajada is published by Hardie Grant and available here for $49.95.

The New Nordic by Simon Bajada is published by Hardie Grant and available here for $49.95.

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