The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Swedish rye -- success and a hearty Thank You to this group!

bmoo's picture

Swedish rye -- success and a hearty Thank You to this group!

My family has handed down a Swedish rye bread recipe that I've made many times.  It's a slightly sweet bread that includes a fair bit of molasses.  When I had the luck to travel to Sweden I learned that while our recipe tasted pretty close to similar bread in Sweden it didn't have the right texture -- the crumb on ours was much too open.  Our bread rose tall like a loaf of white bread whereas the similar bread I had in Sweden was dense and baked in a small square like a pullman loaf.

More than a dozen years ago I got a recipe from a friend's Mother who lives in the country side an hour or so North of Lund, Sweden.   The recipe was intimidating to me at that time -- no mention of how long to knead things; it called for hand mixing and I had only done doughs in a stand mixer or food processor; and the measurements were in liters or grams.  Until I found this website a year or so ago I was just too bewildered to attempt this bread.  Between general advice about rye breads on this site and insights from Hammelman's fabulous "Bread" book I finally gave it a try this weekend with amazing results.  I couldn't be happier!

First, pictures, then the recipe below.


Per Hammelman I waited 24 hours before cutting into the loaf.  It was hard to wait, but here's what I got:

crumb shot

And, now the recipe, converted by me to use weights not measurements. 

Ljus Kavring

The recipe has 3 stages:  First soak some of the rye flour in boiling water and let that sit overnight; second mix more rye flour and the yeast and let that sit for 4 hours; then make the final dough, rise shape and bake.


700 grams water

355 grams rye flour (recipe calls for fine, but I used Hodgson Mills whole rye flour, which is pretty coarse)

18 grams salt

Mix salt and rye flour.  Boil the water and add to the flour mixture.  Stir till well blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit over night.

Rye & Yeast:

350 grams water

355 grams rye flour

15 grams instant yeast

Mix yeast into the dry rye flour, heat water to 98 degrees and mix the water, yeasted rye flour, and soaker in a large bowl.  Mix till well blended.  Use a large bowl because the dough will rise to about double.  Let the dough rise for 4 hours.

Final dough:

276 grams molasses

385 grams wheat flour (I used KA bread flour)

152 grams rye flour

Stir the molasses into the risen rye dough.  Bit by bit stir and knead in the remaining flour.  The recipe said to "knead thoroughly" but this stuff is *sticky*.  I kept the dough in the boal and used my dough scraper to mush the stuff together and gradually I could see that some gluten strands were developing, but in no sense was this a "dough" that formed into a nice ball.   This recipe is 70% rye flour and not counting the molasses has 84% hydration.   You won't ever get it to come togehter like a "normal" loaf.  Thankfully Hammelman had addressed this issue in his various recipes that used a lot of rye.  He warned that you'll see "no perceptible gluten development."  So, I pressed on!

After the dough is well mixed let it rise for 30 minutes.  The dough inflated, although I would not say that it doubled.

While the dough rises, grease a pullman pan and sprinkly the sides and bottom liberally with rye flour.  Grease the pan top as well.  This quantity of dough filled a 16 X 4 X 4 pullman.  It's probably about 300 grams too much dough but I easily lost half that or more to the bowl, my hands, the counter top.  It's a very messy dough!

After the 30 minutes, dump the "dough" onto the counter and knead.  Again, this wasn't "kneading" in any sense that I have previously understood that word.  I just smooshed this amazingly gloppy stuff around on the counter.  Think of your stickiest cookie dough, then make it twice as wet as normal and you'll have some idea of the texture.

Form into a loaf the size and shape of the pan and dump it in.  Smooth it out to fill the pan, flattening the top and squeezing dough to fill the corners.  A slightly dampened dough scraper helps.  The dough filled the pan about halfway.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 175 C (my oven lets me choose either C or F so I just used the C temp setting.  I think 175C is 350F)

At this point I was confident that there was no way this gloppy mess was ever going to make bread.  But to my surprise at about 30 minutes I looked and the dough had risen to within a 1/2 inch of the top.  I used my dough scraper again to smooth it out and flatten the top, which had domed a bit.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with rye flour and put the lid in place.

Bake for 50 - 55 minutes till the internal temp reaches 190 degrees.

Remove from the pan immediately.  Let cool under a towel.  When completely cooled wrap in a linen towel and let rest for 24 hours before slicing. 

Then enjoy a lovely Swedish breakfast, such as this one:

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Bmoo, your rye looks so good!

I'm headed to IKEA in the morning for breakfeast,  after seeing your lachs on rye,  I will have a lot of expectations for them to come even close!


ryeaskrye's picture

Beautifully square. I will absolutely have to try this recipe. I will likely modify it to use a rye starter in place of the yeast and my pullman is 13x4x4 so I'll have to cut the amounts down.

Sourdough Rye was the reason for my starting down the bread baking path. I am still seeking my perfect Rye.

I actually have an 50% rye, Americanized "pumpernickel" fermenting as I type...

ehanner's picture

Wow there are some very talented bakers showing up here recently. That's a fine looking loaf, and for the first try. I'm impressed.


PaddyL's picture

I just might copy/paste this recipe and try it.  Thanks!

ques2008's picture

isn't it lovely when your efforts are rewarded?  well, well done!

Ramshackle's picture

Ok, so if I want to enjoy that swedish breakfast, you're gonna have to tell me what you have on top of that slice of bread from that awesome looking loaf.  Please?


bmoo's picture

What's on top is some butter and a couple slices of gravlax. 

Gravlax is raw salmon cured in sugar, salt, and dill.   The bread works well with smoked salmon, herring, salami, other cured meats and cheese.  All staples of a Swedish breakfast or buffet!


ananda's picture

Hi bmoo,

I'm late coming to this post; sorry.

First of all, and to echo what Eric said some months back now: lovely looking bread, and clearly you're a talented baker...experienced or not!

Regarding VerinaYuan's post above, I wonder if you don't have too much molasses in the formula.   Your formula works out to nearly 23% molasses on flour.   Here's a couple of references to what I've posted on rye breads using molasses: and    These work with molasses @ 4 and 8% respectively.   I'm not sure I'd be going over 10%.   If you want to go sweeter, then you could use a barley malt syrup on top of the 10% molasses to avoid over bitterness.   Also, what grade molasses?   I use black strap, but I gather there are lower grades too.   This could be significant to the poster above

Best wishes


bmoo's picture

Verina -- so sorry that the recipe didn't work out too well for you!  It is a lot of molasses and the bread should be distinctly sweet, but not bitter.  The molasses taste should definitely be evident. 

Andy -- Thanks.  I agree it's a lot of molasses.  My family's original recipe is like the ones you reference, about 5% molasses.  I probably used 'robust molasses' but not blackstrap.  I believe I read somehwere that blackstrap might yield a bitter taste.  Now, I'm also wondering if there's an ingredient translation problem.  It's possible that in Sweden there is some kind of other light syrup that's used that's not as strong as American molasses.  Although, fwiw, my taste memory of this bread when I had it in Sweden matches up pretty well with what this recipe produced for me.

Although I've made the bread from this recipe a few times and always with great success, it's also possible that I made a mistake!  The recipe I got was in measures (ml) and I converted it to weights.  I found various sites on the web that gave weight equivalents for volume measurements. 

In case I did goof, here's the original version of the total amounts but not step by step:

0.7   liter  water
0.7   liter  rye flour
0.35   liter  water
0.7   liter  rye flour
0.2   liter  molasses
0.7   liter  flour
0.3   liter  rye flour
15   ml salt
50   grams yeast

I'm pretty sure the yeast in the original referred to fresh yeast.

-- Barbara

punainenkettu's picture

We got bread like that in Finland and it looks just right! I wish I could taste it.  You have inspird me and I just got the recipe I had been looking for to make the Finnish rye bread ruisleipa. I tried before but it was a bit off so now that I am armed with "Gramdma's" recipe I will try again. Lovely bread!

Patf's picture

Interesting that you use molasses in rye bread in Sweden, Finland.

I come from the Scottish borders in England, and also use molasses, but a type called black treacle. 1tbsp to a kilo of flour.

Very warming in those cold climates!

ananda's picture

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for posting more detail on your recipe.

Honestly, you are VERY brave attempting to convert a recipe like this; I wouldn't give it house room!

Well, I actually made my caraway rye bread yesterday.   If you use the black strap molasses at that rate, and it's as strong as the jar I have, it will be over-powering.

Treacle and molasses are very different products to me [Patf, I live near Alnwick, just back over the Border from you!].   I actually much prefer the black strap molasses, but it would be too bitter for me if included in such a high quantity.   However, you could use an alternative such as treacle, or, malt syrup, or a lower grade of molasses even, in order to stay up at 23%

Still, agree with all here: lovely bread!

Best wishes


bmoo's picture

Andy --

I did a bit of surfing and found that in Sweden there are apparently lots of sugar syrup products.  In particular, there's something referred to as 'bread-syrup' that contains malt to improve baking.  I'm now wondering whether that's what's intended for this recipe.  In any case, as I mentioned I definitely wouldn't use blackstrap but it worked out great using what in the States is known as robust molasses.

It was fun reverse engineering the recipe, but it was kind of daunting!

 --- Barbara