Rugbrød (Danish Rye Bread)

Really easy, healthy bread packed with seeds, loved in Denmark and eaten as the basis of open sandwiches, or ‘smørrebrød’.



200 ml steel cut oats
200 ml pearl barley
200 ml flax seeds (linseed)
200 ml sunflower kernels
800 ml water
400 ml sourdough starter


1 tablespoon dark syrup
2 tablespoons gravy browning (Parisian essence)
2 tablespoons salt
400 ml rye flour
400 ml all purpose flour


Sourdough starter

Day 1, 8 am: Refresh sourdough starter in the normal way (tip off 30g into a new jar, add 100g all purpose flour and 100g water, mix well and leave until doubled – could take between 12 and 24 hours depending on room temperature).


Day 2, 8am: Mix all ingredients for the soak and leave for 8 hours. For the starter, I tip off 30g into a new jar to propagate it, then tip the rest into the soak.


Day 2, 4pm: Add dark syrup, gravy browning and salt. Mix together. When well combined, add the flour. Depending on how strong I’m feeling I sometimes do this by hand or if not so strong, use a mixer. I add an extra approx 100ml at this stage. It should be the consistency of a thick porridge, requiring a bit of encouragement from a spatula to get it into the tins in the next stage. Cover in the bowl for 2 hours.

Proof in tins

Day 2, 6pm: Scrape out into tins lined with grease proof paper (a little oil on the tins before lining with paper helps keep the paper in place), allow to prove for 2 hours.


Day 2, 8pm: Bake for 1 hour at 180c, turn tins 180 degrees at 30 minutes to ensure even cooking.


Place bread still in tins on a cooling rack and wrap in a clean tea towel. If the surface of the bread has risen so it is quite domed or cracked I place something flat on top with a little weight to push it down a bit -this results in a nice rectangular cross section of the bread, which I prefer. This isn’t always required.

After an hour or so, tip the loaves out of the tins and re-wrap in tea towels. Leave overnight then store in airtight containers at room temperature. Slices best cut from the centre and the two ends pushed together in the airtight container to keep the cut surfaces fresh. Kept like this the rye bread is good for up to 5 days.

Serving suggestions: look up ‘smørrebrød’ for lots of lunch ideas or simply spread generously with hummus. Also good as a quick weekday breakfast smothered with peanut butter.