In this world there are three things a Dane will invariably miss while abroad for a long period:
Licorice (Danish, strong, salt licorice, that is)
Leverpostej (something not entirely unlike liver paste) or spegepølse (a sausage), according to taste
Rye bread or rugbrød
True Rye Bread
True rye bread is made in Denmark to be eaten by Danes. However, it is important to note that in the scope of this entry, a Dane can be defined not only by nationality but as well by showing true Danish heart and spirit.
As is the case with Rolex watches, Gucci leather goods or Armani suits there are many fraudulent copies of true rye bread out there. In Sweden, for example, they tend to make something of the kind but it's too light, too sweet and not just right. German rye bread suffers from over-industrialised processing which is a common threat to all good bread.
To help stranded Danes out there, here is a recipe for true rye bread.
- 0.8 litres water
- 500g whole and cut rye grain, approx 50/50
- 1 litre Hvidtøl (dark, sweet, low-alcoholic, top fermented beer)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- A small measure of dark treacle/syrup (try the malted dark syrup made by Sockerbolaget, the Swedish Sugar Company)
- 100g sunflower seeds
- 500g wheat flour
- 500g rye flour
- 200g sour dough (see below)
Take a large bowl with a volume of approximately 5 litres. Pour in the boiling water, add the grain and let the mix cool to room temperature.
Pour in the beer, add salt, treacle, sour dough and sunflower seeds. Mix well.
Add wheat and rye flour and mix thoroughly.
Cover with a cloth and leave overnight at room temperature.
Put a chopping board or the like on top of the bowl and then cover with the cloth; this will keep the dough away from the cloth if it decides to outgrow the bowl.
- 0.3 litres water
- 1/2- 1 teaspoon freeze dried yeast (optional)
- 1000g rye flour
Add the water to the dough. Add yeast as well if the mix hasn't risen up to somewhere near the chopping board level. Also, the mix should look as if there has been some bubbling going on during the night, caused by the CO2 produced by yeast and bacteria in the dough. If it doesn't look that way, then add a wee bit of yeast.
Add the rye flour and mix really, really well - it's rather heavy going and there's invariably a clump of flour hiding somewhere. Do not try to knead the dough, it is far too wet and mushy for that and ends as a disaster half way up your arms.
Take out 200g to use as sour dough for the next time you want to make rye bread. Put it into a container which protects against light, cover with salt, cap tightly and keep in the back corner of the fridge.
Distribute into 3 - 4 baking tins of 1 - 1.5 litres (mine are glass ones which I cover on the inside with a thin layer of margarine to avoid the breads from sticking irreversibly to the sides. Mash it well into the forms, trying to avoid air cavities as they'll just end up as holes in the bread. Cover up and leave on the table for two hours.
Bake for 90 minutes at 180°C. To conserve some energy, it's fine to start in a cold oven. Take the loaves out of the forms, put them back into the oven and bake for a further 10 - 20 minutes to add a crust. When finished, the loaves sound hollow when you tap on the bottom with a knuckle (take care, they are hot).
Put into plastic bags while still lukewarm. It's just fine to freeze the bread.
There are three major sources of this necessary substance which serves as a source of all these wonderful micro organisms (yeasts and different acidophilic bacteria). Their role is to produce the CO2, which, when trapped inside the bread, cause the bread to rise.
The sources are:
The portion you set aside when you made your last batch of rye bread.
A portion you get from a friendly soul who sets a bit extra aside for you when you have begged long enough.
The emergency sour dough procedure? You make it up from scratch.
The latter method, which also is good when your stored-away sour dough expires for some reason, looks approximately like this:
Mix yoghurt (natural) with flour (just about any kind will do) and an appropriate (not too large amount) of yeast. With fresh yeast, use maybe 10 - 15g. The mix should be porridge-like in consistency, in that it is rather wet, but not free-flowing. Make up something like 0.75 litres in total volume and leave in the bowl (covered by plastic film) at room temperature for a day or so.
Occasionally the first batch of bread made with an emergency procedure sour dough become more 'sour' in taste than normal, so you might consider adding a wee bit more treacle. The slightly too sour taste disappears with the second generation of the dough.
How to Enjoy
Cut yourself a slice, put on whatever you like to put on bread, and eat, uttering noises of pleasure as you do so.
One serving suggestion might be warm leverpostej in fair amounts. Does very well accompanied by cold beer (Tuborg Classic fits well here) and a chilled (not frozen) aquavit such as Red or Blue Aalborg.