For many Americans, soft slices of white rye toast are vehicles for corned beef and pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, and bacon, lettuce and tomato. But in the Scandinavian diet, rye takes on a much more central role. The whole grain is a mainstay in dark, hearty breads.
This week on “Good Food,” chef Trine Hanhemann shares her recipe for “Malted Rye Bread with Mixed Seeds” from her new cookbook “Scandinavian Baking.” This classic Danish rye bread gets its bluish hue from malt flour and its crunch and bite from cracked whole rye, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and linseeds. Hanhemann says this bread is perfect for making smørrebrød — thinly sliced, open-faced sandwiches topped with any combination of ingredients such as avocado, cottage cheese, sliced cooked potatoes, chives, kale and hardboiled eggs.
Hanhemann’s passion for rye extends beyond the kitchen. She wants to reintroduce heritage rye seeds into the American agricultural landscape. Working in collaboration with Norway’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Hanhemann co-founded The Rye Bread Project. The project has donated 24 varieties of heritage rye seeds to farmers, farmers markets and organic research organizations since it got off the ground in 2010.
Trine Hahnemann’s “Malted Rye Bread with Mixed Seeds”
This recipe will fit a 3 quart (3 liter) loaf tin. Trine suggests using a 12-inch x 4-inch x 4-inch (30-centimeters x 10-centimeters x 10-centimeters).
Yield: Makes one loaf of bread
Day One Ingredients
14 oz (400 g) Rye Sourdough Starter (recipe follows)
3⅛ cups (750 ml) lukewarm water
2 tbsps honey
1½ tsp salt
4¼ cups (500 g) stoneground rye flour
1⅔ cups (200 g) strong white flour
2 tbsp pure malt flour
Rye Sourdough Starter Ingredients
1½ cups (350 ml) buttermilk
1⅔ cups (200 g) stoneground rye flour
Day Two Ingredients
10½ oz (300 g) cracked whole rye
¾ cup (100 g) sunflower seeds
⅓ cup (50 g) poppy seeds, plus more for the top
⅓ cup (50 g) linseeds
1 cup (250 ml) cold water
Flavorless oil like grapeseed, for the tin
Mix the buttermilk and rye flour, cover, and leave at 72°F to 77°F (22°C to 25°C) for 2 to 3 days (about 30 to 36 hours). When small bubbles start to appear, along with a bit of a sour smell, you’ll know that it’s fermenting and ready to be used.
Dissolve the sourdough in the lukewarm water in a large bowl, then add the honey. Now stir in the salt and flours with a wooden spoon, or in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook, until well mixed. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it rise for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature.
For the starter: Add the cracked rye, all the seeds and the water to the remaining dough and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. It’s a runny dough that cannot be kneaded with your hands at all. Take 3 tablespoons of the mixture, seal it in an airtight container, and place in the refrigerator; this becomes the Rye Sourdough Starter for the next time you bake the bread (it will need to rest for at least 3 days, but will last up to 8 weeks).*
To bake: Lightly oil a 3 quart (3 liter) loaf tin. Pour in the dough and cover with a damp dish towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 3 to 6 hours, or until the dough has almost reached the top of the tin. Dredge with poppy seeds so the bread is almost covered.
When you’re about ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Transfer the loaf tin to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Once it’s done baking, remove the bread from the tin immediately and allow to cool on a wire rack.
To serve: This malt rye bread is lovely when freshly baked but difficult to slice, so it’s really better eaten the day after it’s been baked.
*Note: For all subsequent loaves, you will only need 3 tablespoons of the mixture of the sourdough starter; the 14 ounces (400 g) is just for your first attempt.