Sweet Rye Bread

Rye breads come in many different shapes, flavors, and consistencies. Sweet rye bread are often similar to the Swedish limpa. Swedish limpa uses a combination of rye and wheat flours and is yeasted, enriched, sweetened with molasses or brown sugar, and spiced with fennel seeds, anise, and orange zest. The following recipe is my first attempt at a sweet, rye bread, but it is not limpa. Rather, it is a unique recipe that I have only found this single variation on. It is made with 100% rye flour, incorporates sourdough and no commercial yeast, uses a thick batter rather than a dough, involves a long, slow rise, and is baked for a couple of hours. With that said, this bread is dense, moist, and perfect for breakfast with a bit of butter, plain yogurt, or ricotta to compliment the simultaneous sour and sweet flavor. Although a little wary about this unconventional recipe at the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised by the final loaf and will be sure to make this one again.

Slices for breakfast

This recipe is adapted from Daniel Lepard’s The Art of Handmade Bread. (His website is http://www.danlepard.com/)

Sweet Rye Bread

Overnight Batter:
240 g boiling water
50 g fine rye flour

200 g rye leaven
140 g honey
50 g water
290 g overnight batter
300 g fine rye flour
9 g fine sea salt

Optional Spices:
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tsp aniseed
zest of 1 orange

For overnight batter (makes 290 g):

Cool the water slightly. Slowly beat in the rye flour. Make sure that no lumps are remaining. Cover and leave overnight.

For the dough:

Beat the rye leaven, honey, and water together with the overnight batter. Add the remaining rye flour and salt. Stir until you have a thick, evenly mixed paste. If you are using additional spices, then add them now. (I used cardamom and appreciated the hint of spice it gave to the final loaf.)

Oil and flour a standard loaf pan (8 x 4 inches). Scrape the dough from the bowl into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 5-6 hours, or until doubled in height. (I let my loaf rise for 11-12 hours and it still turned out beautifully. Be careful not to let it sit too long so that the yeast becomes exhausted and what little gluten there is is broken down, but feel free to let it go longer than 6 hours if are unable to bake it immediately or think it can rise longer.)

Preheat the oven to 400 ºF. Wrap a sheet of foil snugly over the top of the baking pan. Bake for 1 ½ hours, then carefully remove the foil from the top and bake for an additional hour, so that the upper crust darkens. Allow to cool in the pan. (Lepard’s book suggests removing the loaf from the pan, wrapping it well in oiled paper, and leaving for two days before eating, in order to facilitate slicing. I simply let mine cool overnight and found that it was easy enough to slice in the morning. I also didn’t have the patience to wait two days … perhaps next time.)

3 Responses to “Sweet Rye Bread”

  1. […] of the trip I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. I also baked a loaf of the sweet rye bread that I made in an earlier posting. Sliced and spread thickly with almond butter, this made the […]

  2. I’ve always been interested in this recipe, but the line about ‘fine rye flour’ always confused me. Does he mean whole grain or white rye? BTW, this is my first time on your site and I think it’s great!

  3. Abbey- This is a useful page on the Fresh Loaf that describes various types of rye flours. Fine rye flour is whole grain, but just more finely ground. White rye has the bran and the germ removed. (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4683/rye-flour) I think this recipe would come out deliciously with just about any type of rye flour you use!

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