Old Danish Blackbread - Gammelsurbrød

Makes 2 loaves

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add the 2 cups sifted rye meal and mix well by beating with a spoon for 2 minutes. Cover and set in a warm place to rise and fall.

This "sponge" can be mixed the night before to rise. This was the old Danish method. In the morning it will have risen and fallen, or "soured."

Beat it well, adding the salt, the 1 cup of rye meal and 1 cup of wheat flour. Beat again for 3 minutes. Cover and let rise until light and spongy. Punch down and turn onto a board sprinkled with equal parts of rye meal and wheat flour - about ¼ cup of each.

Knead for 10 minutes, working in as much more meal and flour as necessary for a stiff dough. As a rule, ½ cup of each is plenty.

When the dough no longer sticks to the hands and is light in texture, shape into 2 small loaves. Place in greased pans (9×5×3) and cover with slightly dampened tea towels. Let rise until light and the surface starts to crack.

Bake 1¼ hours in a preheated 300° oven. Place a shallow pan about ¼ full of warm water under the pans in the oven to prevent the loaves from becoming hard and crusted on the bottom. Brush tops with melted butter while warm. This firm bread should be sliced very thin.