Do you like to bake your own bread? Why not give rye bread a go? Don't attempt to slice the bread for at least 10 hours after baking; it's actually best two or three days old. Search our Danish recipes for ideas on what to serve with it.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (105 votes)


Stage 1 (5 days) - starter

  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk 
  • 65 g (½ cup) organic rye flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Stage 2 (12-36 hours) - sponge

  • 100-200 g sourdough starter                   
  • 750 ml (3 cups) cold water               
  • 100 g (⅔ cup) wholemeal wheat flour    
  • 50 g organic rye flour                   
  • 100 g (⅔ cup) organic plain flour           
  • 75 g (½ cup) linseeds                     
  • 75 g (½ cup) raw sunflower seeds        
  • 175 g (1 cup) cracked rye grains               
  • 200 g (1¼ cups) cracked wheat grains
  • 2 tsp kosher or sea salt

Stage 3 (3-12 hours)

  • 1 tbsp malt powder                     
  • 1 tbsp molasses                   
  • 150 g cooked barley grains
  • 500 g (3 cups) cracked rye grains, soaked overnight     
  • extra virgin olive oil, for greasing
  • melted butter, for brushing

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need to begin this recipe 7 days ahead.

To make the sourdough starter, mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stand, uncovered, at room temperature. Amounts given are approximate; mixture should be quite fluid. Add more buttermilk or water if starter thickens too much. You can also use good plain yoghurt instead of buttermilk, but add water if you do. Stir with a spoon at least once a day. Keep it loosely covered with paper or foil from the second day. Don't refrigerate.

From the second or third day, little air bubbles will form in the starter, and it will probably have a more greyish colour than it did at first. It should also begin to smell slightly sour, but the smell disappears upon stirring. Usually the starter takes about 5 days to make. It's ready when it has swollen somewhat in volume and the air bubbles are plentiful after resting for about 6 hours. The quality of the starter is not terribly crucial; rugbroed doesn't (and shouldn't) rise very much during baking, especially not the no-knead type. With many grains and very little flour, high yeast activity would produce a too-crumbly a result.

If you can remember, discard a little of the sourdough and feed it with water and rye flour a couple of times per month. Make sure it is fairly thick, though, to inhibit yeast activity and make it less vulnerable to forgetfulness. (see note)

To make the sponge, mix 100-200 g of the sourdough starter and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Cover with a wet towel and stand in a warm place until the next day, or for at least 12 hours, but up to 36 hours is fine. Sourness increases with standing, but won't be very predominant in the final result anyway. Dampen the towel when dry to prevent moisture loss from the sponge, which could affect the final result.

The sponge is very thin and liquid when just mixed, but will quickly become quite thick from the grains absorbing liquid.

To make the dough, add the malt powder, molasses, cooked barley and soaked rye to the sponge and combine well. Pour into a lightly greased 2-litre capacity loaf tin. If you think you'd like to make this bread again, save 1 cup of dough to use as a starter next time. Put this in a jar, sprinkle with 2 tsp coarse salt, cover tightly and refrigerate. The dough should be wet and just barely liquid, like a very thick porridge. When making the bread a second time, omit the salt since it has already been sprinkled on your starter. 

Stand bread to rise in loaf tin, covered with a damp towel, for at least 3 hours, or a day, at room temperature (or warmer if you use the shorter rising time.) The longer the proof, the more sour the taste. The bread won't rise very much, perhaps only an inch or so.

Paint the top of the bread with melted butter or cold water. Put it in a cold oven and set the temperature at 190°C. From the time the oven is warm, the baking time is about 90 minutes. If the top looks like it's blackening, cover with foil.

It's very difficult to tell when the bread is done. Take it out of tin and knock the base with your fist. If it doesn't resonate hollowly, it certainly isn't done. If it sounds hollow, insert a bamboo skewer into the centre. If the tip comes out clean, it is probably done. The crust should feel quite hard. If in doubt, leave the bread in the oven as the oven cools.

Place the bread on a rack and cover with a towel (unless you are leaving it in the oven). Stand overnight. 

From the day after it is baked, store the rugbroed in a bread box or plastic bag at cool room temperature. It freezes quite well, but tends to become a little crumbly after thawing. Rugbroed stays fresh for about a week.


• If you use an old starter to make this bread, it's a good idea to take it out of the refrigerator a day before making the sponge. Stir it up with water to a wet dough and let it rest covered at room temperature. This will revive the yeast activity and give you a better rise in the final bread.
• If you don't plan to use a freshly made starter immediately, cover tightly and refrigerate. It keeps for about a week. If you want to keep it longer, feed it with rye flour to make a somewhat thicker dough. That will keep for several weeks.

• If the bread seems very wet inside upon slicing, try putting it back in the oven to be warmed through at a fairly low temperature, about 30 minutes at 100°C. Even a perfectly baked loaf will be a little sticky the day after it is baked, but it improves over another day or two.
• If the crust stays extremely hard on the second day, try lowering the oven temperature a little and extending the baking time the next time you attempt it. Much depends on the shape of your loaf pan (wide and flat or short and tall makes a world of difference) and on the actual moistness of the dough. I can only recommend that you make careful notes about what you are doing so you know what to adjust a second or third time.