The Danes are known for their rye breads, of which there are dozens of variations, all of which are called “Rugbrød.” Most are sweet and dense, loaded with seeds and coarse rye meal to provide both richness and a satisfyingly rustic coarse mouth feel.
Note: This article first appeared in the Fall, 2017 issue of Bread Lines, the quarterly newsletter of the Bread Baker’s Guild of America.
When I buy a bag of wheat flour, I pretty much know what I’m getting. We’re a wheat-eating nation, and although there are no formal standards for wheat flour grading, the milling industry has reached a marketing consensus that puts everyone on the same page. So no matter who milled it, I can be confident that my bag of bread flour will contain 12-13% protein and 0.50-0.53%ash, my H&R/AP flour will come in at10.5-12% protein and 0.52-0.53% ash, my soft wheat cake flour will measure at 8.0-9.5 percent protein and 0.42-0.45% ash, and so on down the line for any other flour I might need. There are few, if any, surprises.
Odd name for a bread, The “Juicy One,” especially since this close-crumbed, rustic north German bread is anything but “saftig,” German, for “juicy. But if you consider its broader meaning (which survives in the Yiddish word zoftig) of “ripe,” “luscious” and “mouth watering,” then the description is spot-on, for this bread has a rich, mouth-filling texture and subdued sweet spiciness that showcases rye in all its glory. Keep Reading
Thinking about my third and final holiday bread for 2016, I decided that I wanted something halfway between the savory Christmas Crispbread and sweet Bavarian Ketzapiren I’d already posted. This Hazelnut-Fig Loaf immediately came to mind. Like many Finnish Christmas loaves, this one is based on a mixed wheat-rye dough, sweetened with syrup and enhanced with the sweet-bitter notes of roasted barley malt. What sets this one apart is its use of chopped figs and hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and coarse rye meal. All of these combine to produce a coarse, complex mouth feel that plays beautifully against an equally complex flavor profile of understated sweetness, nuttiness, coffee and subtle sour. Keep Reading
Over the months and years I’ve spent baking rye breads, I’ve developed a special fondness for Baltic ryes and for coarse-textured rustic breads. This Coarse Rye from Latvia fills the bill on both, making it one of my favorites. Interestingly, it combines bulk ferment, soaking and proofing into a single 12 to 16-hour stretch, after which the dough gets benched and baked in quick succession. Keep Reading