Recently, I saw on youtube a video about Danish food. The video was mainly about smørrebrød, the famous Danish open-faced sandwiches. Smørrebrød means butter bread. The base of the sandwiches is sourdough rye bread that is cut into slices and in its most simple form smeared with salted butter. But Smørrebrød is more than simple butter bread. The sandwiches are topped, besides butter, with different ingredients such as smoked salmon, eggs, caviar, shrimps, or roast beef, for example. In combination with different herbs and sauces, and (pickled) vegetables, these simple slices of Danish rye bread are turned into artfully arranged delicacies.
I want that bread
As a vegetarian, I was not that interested in the toppings, but the bread looked so incredibly delicious. In my home country Germany we eat very similar rye bread, and the taste of it immediately appeared on my tongue by watching the video. For me, one thing was clear at that moment: I want that bread! Since I cannot buy it in Morocco, the only option was to make it myself.
And I did it! Fortunately, rye flour is available in Morocco. You can buy it in the mills in the neighborhood. But be careful, there are different qualities! Try to buy the flour that is made from husked rye seeds. The flour that is made from the rye grains that are still wrapped in their husk, is not good for bread unless you sieve it several times (4 times at least). If you leave it as it is, your bread will look and taste like horse food. When I was new in Morocco, I didn’t know it and it happened what had to happen. I did not bake delicious rye bread but highly rich in fiber, almost uneatable bread that I simply called “the horse bread”. But with the right flour, it works great.
For the Danish-style rye bread, you need also some whole peeled rye grains (you can find them at the place where you buy the flour) and sunflower seeds. Unsalted sunflower seeds are available in shops that sell confectionery ingredients. Traditional Danish bread contains malt syrup. As I don’t have it, I use date syrup. You can also use other types of syrup such as maple syrup or even honey if it’s OK for you to have a non-vegan bread.
it’s so easy – all you need is patience
The bread is easy to make. Yes, I admit, it’s not a quick bread as it needs enough time to ferment (about 15 hours in total) and to bake (about 1 hour and 15 minutes), but the active working time is short and effortless. The only special equipment you need is a bread tin. I use my bread tin also for cakes so for me it’s basic equipment. The Danish rye bread is made with sourdough. If you want to know how to make sourdough at home, check out this recipe. When you try it, you will see that it is much easier than you might expect.
And what is the reward for all your efforts? That will be, of course, a beautiful loaf of fresh, healthy, aromatic, tasty, homemade rye bread. It’s worth it!
1 glass = 200ml
- 6 glasses of rye flour
- 2 tablespoons sourdough
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast optional
- water, about 3 cups
- 1 glass of rye grains
- 1 glass of sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons of date syrup
- water to soak the seeds
- Put the rye grains and the sunflower seeds into a bowl and add water.
- Put 2 glasses of rye flour into a bowl. Add the sourdough and about 1 glass of water. Stir the mixture until well combined. The result should be a thick rye batter.
Let the sourdough and the soaked seeds rest for about 12 hours.
- When the rye batter has rested for about 12 hours, it has completely turned into a sourdough. Set 2 tablespoons of the sourdough aside. This is the sourdough culture for your next bread! Now, add the remaining rye flour (4 glasses), the soaked seeds, salt, date syrup, and the water. The exact amount of water depends on the flour quality and the consistency of the sourdough. When your sourdough is not very active, you should also add some dry yeast now. You will need approximately 2 glasses of water. Stir the mixture with a spoon until you have mixed all the flour completely into the dough. The dough should have the consistency of a very thick and creamy batter, comparable to whipped cream.
- Let the dough rest for about 1.5 hours. Rye dough does not rise like wheat dough. The dough is ready for the next step when cracks have surfaced and the dough feels fluffy.
- Take a bread pan and line it with parchment paper. You can also grease the pan, but as rye dough has an amazing ability to stick, for me, good parchment paper is the safe solution. With baking paper, you will be able to take the bread out of the pan without destroying both, the bread and the bread tin. Many parchment papers in Morocco are, however, not recommendable. They are like simple sandwich paper and are completely useless for such tasks. Use good quality parchment paper, otherwise, the paper might form an unbreakable connection with the bread! Believe me, I have gone through such nightmares!
- Next, press the dough evenly into the bread tin. Then, cover the pan with a wet kitchen towel and let the bread rest for another 30-45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/ 390°F. The bread is ready to bake when you can see some small holes on the surface.
- Put the bread into the oven and bake it at 200°C/ 390°C for about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 160°C/ 320°F and let it bake for 1 more hour. I like it when the bread has a dark crust. It’s full of wonderful roasted flavors.
- When the bread is ready, let it cool down a little and then, take it out of the pan. The crust of the bread is very hard now. To soften it, wrap the bread into two kitchen cloths and let it rest there overnight. A plastic bag works a bit better, but I don’t like it to wrap bread into plastic, especially not for hours. To serve, cut your Danish rye bread into not too thick slices and top it with whatever you like. Even pure it’s super delicious!