Stovetop Diplomat

Swedish Rye Bread

Swedish Rye Bread

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Swedish rye bread is an absolute tradition in my family- a deep, molasses-enriched, mixed grain rye bread that stands at the top of its class.

This recipe ranks alongside New Mexico Red Chile and Oatmeal Triple Chip Cookies in terms of recipes so iconic and beloved in my family, they may as well be synonymous with our name. We simply refer to it as “rye bread” and it is the favored bread of several members of the team. Without fail, we make three loaves around Thanksgiving and then another three around Christmas. And then a smattering throughout the year.

Posting this Swedish rye bread recipe also marks the inception of my newest kitchen gadget: the scale. This is a very useful thing to me. I don’t have bakers instincts, and leaving something as exacting as the science of baking to the inexactness of American volume measurements rarely turns out in my favor. (Looking at you, “cups”) So with that in mind, I have endeavored to include gram measurements as well as American measurements in this recipe, and probably many of the ones going forward. Most especially baking recipes.

Most of these ingredients should look familiar with the possible exception of one: unsulphured blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses is molasses that has been further refined: it’s darker, saltier, less sweet and more bitter. Serious Eats did a thorough write-up about it here. Blackstrap molasses is, of course, available all over the internet, but depending on your location, it may be tough to find locally. Here in Colorado, I get mine at Natural Grocers as I can’t seem to find it in most major grocery stores. If you don’t live in a molasses-rich area, such as the American south, try your local health food store!

But to add to that, a key part of that description is “unsulphured”. Sarra Sedghi did a great little write-up on the difference between sulphured and unsulphured molasses here. The long and short is that unsulphured blackstrap molasses is made from more mature sugarcane. This results in a much richer and deeper flavor. It’s thicker, sweeter, and really makes a big difference in the taste. If you absolutely can’t find any, you may substitute an equivalent amount of regular molasses – but you will be missing out a little!

whole-uncut-loaf-Swedish-rye-bread-with-golden-crust

So how does this bread stack up to other rye breads you may be familiar with? How do Jewish rye bread vs. Swedish rye bread compare? Many (although not all) Jewish rye breads have a sour element to them such as sourdough starter or pickle juice that this Swedish rye bread lacks. Additionally, the ratio of white flour to rye flour is weighed much more heavily toward white flour than rye flour in Swedish rye bread. This means that it is actually less rye-y than many other rye breads you may be familiar with. (But the balance is that the molasses- and especially the blackstrap molasses- adds a deep and delicious flavor unique to this bread.) It has a tight crumb and is fairly dense and sturdy in its final result.  Despite the molasses content, it is not particularly sweet; just rich and delicious!

I’d also like to add that one of the quirks of this bread is that it doesn’t toast particularly well. I’m sure there is a bread scientist out there who can explain why this is – I am not that person. It becomes dry and almost dusty and I don’t necessarily recommend. But! It makes a damn fine sandwich bread, a great base (untoasted!) for Creamed Eggs on Toast, and the basis for my mom’s favorite breakfast- Swedish rye bread and gravy (recipe coming soon). It is a great bread to just munch on – just add butter and that’s all you need!

One last thing! It is the beginning of year three here at The Diplomat, and I have officially come as far as it is possible for a blog to come without a Facebook page. And so, it has come to pass: Stovetop Diplomat is the proud owner of a shiny new Facebook page! Click here to visit and follow – it means the world to me!

red-tray-with-sliced-Swedish-rye-bread-and-butter-next-to-lingonberries

red-tray-with-sliced-Swedish-rye-bread-and-butter-next-to-lingonberries
5 from 4 votes
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Swedish Rye Bread

Swedish rye bread is an absolute tradition in my family- a deep, molasses-enriched, mixed grain rye bread that stands at the top of its class.

Course Appetizer, Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine Swedish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 loaves

Ingredients

For Yeast:

  • 1 package active dry yeast (7 grams)
  • 1 tsp white sugar (4.2 grams)
  • 1/4 cup water (60 grams)

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses (43 grams)
  • 1/2 cup molasses (173 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups water (592 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 3 tbsp white sugar (38 grams)
  • 2 tbsp shortening (Crisco) (24 grams)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour (153 g)
  • 6 - 7 cups all-purpose flour (720 - 840 grams)
  • butter, to finish

Instructions

  1. In a tall glass, dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm water. Let sit until foamy and activated, 5-10 minutes.

  2. Bring liquid ingredients to a light simmer in a medium pot, just until the shortening dissolves. Let cool completely.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast mixture, liquid ingredients and rye flour until just incorporated.

  4. With a wooden spoon or by hand, begin mixing in the all-purpose flour. You will need 6-7 cups, depending on factors such as local humidity. You will know you are done when your dough is no longer sticky and holds its shape.

  5. Lightly flour a flat surface. Knead dough for ten or so minutes - you'll be tired! Your dough is done when it springs back after being punched.

  6. Grease a large bowl with shortening and place your dough inside to rise. Cover with a kitchen towel AND a quilt or other heavy blanket. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, approximately 2 1/2 - 3 hours. (Longer at high altitude where I live!)

  7. Grease 3 loaf pans with shortening. Cut dough into 3 equal pieces and shape to fit in pans, making sure to knead when necessary to eliminate air pockets.

  8. Let rise, covered in both a kitchen towel AND a quilt or other heavy blanket, until more than doubled in size and rising taller than the loaf pans - another 2-3 hours. Remove the quilt, (leaving the loaves covered in the kitchen towel) after the first hour.

  9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Bake for 45 minutes. (When done baking, the loaf pans will sound hollow when thumped!) Remove from loaf pans immediately after baking, and rub each side lightly with a stick of butter. Let cool.

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