Danish Sourdough Rye Bread ~ Rugbrød

Danish Sourdough Rye Bread ~ Rugbrød

Rugbrød is not just a food item; it holds cultural significance in Denmark. It is often served alongside open-faced sandwiches known as smørrebrød, topped with a variety of ingredients like meats, cheeses, and pickles.

Danish Sourdough Rye Bread

In Danish, this recipe is called Rugbrød


SourDough Starter

  • 1 Cup Whole Rye Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Lukewarm Water
  • 2 Tbs Sourdough Starter

Day 2

  • The SourDough Starter from above
  • 2 Cups Dark Rye Flour
  • 1 Cup Multipurpose Flour
  • 2 tbsp Molasses
  • 1 tbs Salt
  • 1.5 Cup Lukewarm Water


Day 1.

  • In a clean glass or plastic container, mix 1 cup of whole rye flour with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons of active sourdough starter.
  • Cover the container loosely with a lid or cloth and let it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. This allows the starter to ferment and become active.

Day 2.

  • Discard half of the starter (about 1 cup). Add 1 cup of whole rye flour and 1/2 cup of lukewarm water to the remaining starter. Mix well.
  • Cover and let it sit for another 12-24 hours.

Day 3.

  • Repeat the feeding process from Day 2.
  • Let the starter sit for another 6-12 hours until it's active, bubbly, and has a pleasant sour aroma.

Day 4.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of whole rye flour, 1 1/2 cups of bread flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
  • Optionally, add caraway seeds for flavor. Add 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water to the dry ingredients. Mix in the active sourdough starter.
  • You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook or knead by hand until the dough is well combined and smooth.
  • Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough rise at room temperature for 6-12 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Day 5.

  • Preheat your oven to 232°C.
  • Shape the risen dough into a loaf and place it in a greased or parchment-lined baking pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 232°C, then reduce the temperature to (204°C and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.


Danish Rugbrød, or Danish rye bread, has a long and rich history deeply rooted in the traditions of Denmark. The origins of Rugbrød can be traced back to the time when rye was one of the few grains that could thrive in the harsh Scandinavian climate. Rye became a staple grain for the Danish people, and the development of Rugbrød was a natural evolution in their culinary history.

An Old Recipe In Modern Time ~ Sourdough Revival

Rye bread likely became a staple in Danish diets during the Middle Ages. Rye was more resistant to cold weather and could be grown in less fertile soil, making it a practical choice for the region.

Rugbrød as we know it today started to take shape in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The bread was often made using a sourdough fermentation process, which not only improved the bread’s shelf life but also contributed to its distinctive sour flavor.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the production and availability of bread underwent significant changes. Traditional stone milling was replaced by roller milling, making it easier to produce finely ground flour.

During World War II, when resources were scarce, rugbrød became a dietary staple due to its nutritional value and the fact that it could be made with minimal ingredients. The bread’s popularity persisted in the post-war years, as it was seen as a practical and hearty food source.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in traditional foods, and Danish Rugbrød has experienced a revival. Bakeries and home bakers often experiment with different grains, seeds, and techniques to create modern variations of this classic bread.

Rye cultivation in Denmark dates back to prehistoric times. The climate and soil conditions were well-suited for rye, making it a reliable and hardy crop.

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