Dökkt rúgbrauð is a mildly sweet dark rye bread from Iceland. Traditionally, it is baked in the ground using geothermal heat. To mimic this cooking method at home, the bread is cooked at a low temperature for an unusually long time, around 8 hours.
This was one of my favourite food discoveries from our recent trip to southern Iceland. It slices, toasts, and keeps/travels well since it is a fairly dense and compact loaf with very little rise. Also, there is no butter or plain flour in dökkt rúgbrauð so it feels a little healthier than similar loaves (malt loaf, Yorkshire parkin, banana bread, etc).
For my first attempt, I followed Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir’s recipe from her cookbook Icelandic Food & Cookery that is published online by Saveur (see recipe). I substituted the flours with regular rye flour and plain flour since I didn’t have dark rye and wholemeal flour. It still turned out pretty great, though it was a little more “rubbery” than your standard Bónus loaf. I’ll make more of an effort to find the correct ingredients next time, but I’d be happy to use those substitutes again if required.
I’ve since found a few other recipes shared by Icelandic bloggers. Incidentally, that last link appears to be Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir’s blog, and her loaf looks the best of those I’ve seen online. All of these recipes vary, but overall most omit baking powder and have a greater quantity of buttermilk. The recipe below is an amalgam of these recipes, and it is what I will follow the next time I make dökkt rúgbrauð.
Dökkt rúgbrauð 🇮🇸
Makes two 2lb loaves
- 306 g (3 c) dark rye flour
- 163 g (1 ⅓ c) wholemeal flour
- 1 ¾ t baking soda
- 2 t salt
- 530 mL (2 ¼ c) buttermilk
- 300 g (scant 1 c) golden syrup
- Preheat the oven to 100°C (200°F). Grease and line two 2lb loaf tins.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then mix in the wet ingredients.
- Pour the batter in to the two loaf tins. Each tin should be a little under ¾ full, so there may be some batter left over. Cover each tin tightly with foil and bake for a minimum of 8 hours.
- The cup measurements above are USA customary cup measurements (240mL).
- Some folks suggest that this could be baked overnight for a fresh loaf in the morning. I haven’t done this and may never do it for safety reasons, but it seems like a great idea if you have an electric oven that you feel confident about.
- “Wholemeal” flour is a British term, the same product is called “whole wheat flour” in the USA.
- I never, ever buy buttermilk. To create 240mL (1 USA cup) of substitute buttermilk, add a little under 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or distilled (white) vinegar to your measuring implement and then fill the rest of the measure with milk. Use the oldest and highest fat content milk you have available.
- If you can’t find golden syrup, try using maple syrup, light molasses, corn syrup, and/or honey. I may deliberately use a combination of molasses and honey next time since I think those flavours would be great with this loaf and have seen more traditional recipes that use molasses.
- Try adding seeds or nuts if desired. Though it’s not traditional, I intend to add flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds the next time I bake dökkt rúgbrauð since I love a seeded loaf and it should take it well.
- Don’t be tempted to open the oven and peel off the foil while this is baking. It is meant to steam, and if you check on it while baking then all of the steam will be released. If you’re worried that it won’t be done, just bake it a little longer. Many recipes I saw said to bake it even longer, around 10 hours.