Icelandic Rye Bread (Rúgbrauð)

This dense, mildly sweet, hearty rye bread is ubiquitous in its native Iceland, where it’s traditionally sliced very thin and served with smoked, cured, or pickled foods. That said, it’s also delicious with a simple smear of salted butter. Since it’s leavened with baking powder and baking soda (not yeast), it’s simple to throw together: no kneading, no rising, just mix, bake, and enjoy.

Prep
10 mins
Bake
2 hrs to 2 hrs 15 mins
Total
2 hrs 25 mins
Yield
one 9" loaf
Icelandic Rye Bread

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the center position. 

  2. Weigh your flour or measure it by gently spooning into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. 

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, and molasses.

  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.

  6. Transfer the batter to a lightly greased 9” pain de mie (pullman) pan and smooth the top. Lightly grease the lid, and place the lid on the pan. 

  7. Bake the bread for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and remove the lid from the pan. Leave the loaf in the turned-off oven for another 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn out of the pan onto a cooling rack.

  8. Cool completely before slicing thinly and serving with butter or your favorite savory toppings. Pickled herring and smoked salmon are traditional, but cheese (anything from salty aged to soft mild) certainly wouldn’t be amiss, either. 

  9. Store leftover bread tightly wrapped at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • This bread is traditionally baked low and slow (in a low oven overnight), but we’ve adjusted its preparation to be more in tune with our American lifestyle.

  • Golden syrup is Icelanders’ sweetener of choice for this bread. However, we’ve found that a combination of honey and molasses, as we’ve used here, adds a bit more depth of flavor to the loaf.

  • Join King Arthur baker Martin Philip and his family as they bake Icelandic Rye Bread together, start to finish. Watch Martin Bakes at Home - Icelandic Rye Bread now.