Swedish Rye Bread


“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…

[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”

  • M.F.K Fisher

Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, fall is rapidly approaching New England. The leaves have already started to change colors and the roads are starting to fill up with yellow, orange, and red leaves. Although the daytime is still warm, the mornings and evenings are cool & refreshing. I find myself already looking for late  summer & early fall foods. The pumpkins in the garden next to our apartment are even ready to be picked for autumn.

Bread is a staple around our apartment, especially during the cold months. Homemade bread is a labor of love. Like fermenting kombucha or years in a relationship, you’ve got to be in it for the long run. There are quick breads that taste pretty good, but nothing substitutes the long & slow process of rising and kneading a dough into a couple loaves of bread.

On Sunday, I was feeling the need to be home and work on projects, so I relaxed around the apartment writing and intermittently baking this bread. If you’re not much of a homebody until winter is in full force, then you can tuck this recipe away for rainier days. The fennel seeds and citrus rind break through the traditional heaviness of rye and give this loaf a lingering & refreshing flavor.

Swedish Rye Bread


Prep Time: 5 hours | Cook Time: 50 min. | Yields: 2 loaves

I’m a fan of bread. This gluten-free craze is of no interest to me, aside from the rise of ancient grains and delicious strains of wheat-alternatives that are fun to try. I’ve always loved rye bread, ever since I was a little kid. I like the somewhat bitter taste of the bread because it gives it a hearty and savory flavor that lingers on your tongue, when made correctly. Not to mention, this Swedish rye bread recipe must speak to some ancestral heritage or creating bread from home is just so delicious it majorly eclipses the store bought kinds. This particular loaf is seasoned with fennel seeds and orange zest, which gives the loaf a light and refreshing flavor.


1 cup almond milk or cashew milk
1/4 oz active dry yeast or one packet
2 tbs turbinando sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/3 cup vegan butter or coconut oil
1 orange rind, zested
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 cups medium rye flour

  1. Warm milk in a small sauce pot until lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve yeast and sugar in lukewarm water and stir in milk. Careful not to get the water or milk above 120° or it will kill the yeast and your bread won’t rise.
  3. Once the yeast has dissolved, slowly beat in 3 cups of flour.
  4. Cover with a wet cloth or plastic and let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until double in size.
  5. In a saucepan, combine maple syrup and fennel. Bring to boil and cool till lukewarm.
  6. Mix in syrup, vegan butter or coconut oil, orange rind, and salt into the risen batter. Make sure that the syrup is lukewarm or it will damage the yeast.
  7. Stir in rye flour and 1 cup of the remaining unbleached all-purpose flour.
  8. Knead the dough on a floured surface with the last 1/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour until smooth and elastic, 5-8 minutes.
  9. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double in size, which will take anywhere from 1 1/2-2 hours.
  10. Once the dough has risen, separate into two even balls. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and place loaf inside. With the other ball of dough, separate into three even balls and roll out into strands. Braid the dough by crossing the outside strands over the center, alternating from right to left. Tuck the tail ends of the dough underneath to give it a completed look.
  11. Cover both loaves and let rise for 50 min.
  12. Preheat oven to 375°.
  13. Place both loaves on the oven rack and bake for 45 min. Once the dough has turned golden brown, brush with lukewarm water and bake for 5 min. longer. Cool the loaves on a rack and cover so that the loaves last throughout the week.