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Feb 11, 2020

Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread)

Vörtbröd, Swedish "Wort" Bread, is a flavorful rye bread with a soft crumb and a wonderful aroma.

Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread) |

Vörtbröd gets its name because it traditionally includes brewer's wort, which is beer before it has been fermented, plus it is what gives beer its flavor. It's essentially the "starter" for beer.

Rather than going out and buying a kit to start your own wort, it is much easier to substitute a dark beer such as stout or porter to get the flavor. Of course, if you are a home brewing hobbyist, you definitely should try baking this bread with wort.

I substituted Guinness stout for the wort and was super happy with the results.

Swedish Wort Bread

Baking with Rye:

Baking with rye is very different than baking with wheat flour. Your results will vary depending on the percentage of rye flour in the dough. A higher percentage of rye flour will result in a stickier dough and a denser crumb.

Rugbrød, for example, has a high percentage of rye in the dough. In fact, this Rugbrød rye bread requires at least 24 hours of "curing" before slicing.

A lower percentage of rye, as in this caramelized onion rye bread, will result in a more open crumb.

On the other hand, if you just want to use a bit of rye in your bread, you definitely should experiment.

I sometimes add a small percentage of rye to a country bread just to add some flavor without affecting the texture of the loaf. Adding a bit of rye to a sourdough starter also helps revive it if it has been sitting neglected for a while.

The formula for this Vörtbröd is somewhere in the middle, and is about 40 percent rye and 60 percent all purpose flour.

Just so you know, if you've only eaten store bought rye bread, what you think of as rye bread flavor is actually the flavor of caraway seeds. Rye flour itself does not add that distinctive flavor. It is much more subtle.

For a beer bread with a more open crumb, try Double Levain Pilsner Bread

How to make Swedish Wort Bread

To make this bread, first you will need to scald the rye flour with boiling water and let it sit overnight.
After that, you will need to make a yeast slurry with some of the beer (or wort if you have some).

The scald for Wort Bread

The rye mixture will be very sticky and almost clay-like. Don't let that scare you. The yeast slurry should look creamy and bubbly.

Next, you cook the rest of the beer with some butter and then add it to the scalded rye to make the sponge. You then add some ginger and cloves to the mixture, along with ground bitter orange peel, which is also a beer making ingredient. I substituted fresh orange zest for the bitter orange peel. 

You will have to mix the ingredients with your hands to get everything incorporated, so be prepared to get messy! 

Once you have your sponge, you let it rise until it has doubled. 

Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread) sponge

Next, you add all purpose flour, salt, cane syrup (such as Lyle's Golden Syrup, affiliate link), and mix with your hands until everything comes together (you can also use agave syrup or barley malt syrup). This is a messy job. Be sure to have a dough scraper or two on hand to scrape the sides of the bowl and your hands.

After that, you will need to do a few stretch and folds, or at least attempt them. Be gentle so you don't tear the dough.

Finally, shape the dough into two oblong loaves and proof them in a flour dusted tea towel or couche for about 45 minutes before baking on a baking stone in an oven set up for steam.

The final bread is wonderful!

Swedish rye

This month the Bread Bakers are baking Scandinavian breads, hosted by Felice of All That's Left are the Crumbs.

I'm excited to check out everyone's recipes!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.


This Swedish "Wort" bread is slightly sweet, and is traditionally used to dunk in the ham broth at Christmas. This is a ritual called dopp i grytan, or "dip in the pot," according to the book, Bread on the Table: Recipes for Making and Enjoying Europe's Most Beloved Breads by David Norman, who is the owner of Austin's Easy Tiger Bake Shop & and Beer Garden. (I fantasize that he named the shop after the album by Ryan Adams, one of my favorite singer/songwriters).

The book is a fabulous read, and if I ever get back to Austin, this bakery and beer garden will be my first stop. His story about his discovery of bread is inspiring. This recipe was adapted from the book.

Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread) made with Guinness

Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread)

Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread)
Yield: 2 loaves
Vörtbröd, Swedish "Wort" Bread, is a flavorful rye bread with a soft crumb and a wonderful aroma.


For the Scalded Rye Flour
  • 140 grams (1 1/4 cups) whole rye flour
  • 280 grams (1 cup plus three tablespoons) boiling water
For the Sponge
  • 356 grams (1 1/2 cups) porter or stout beer
  • 12 grams (1 tablespoon instant yeast)
  • 35 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons) butter
  • All of the scalded rye flour
  • 210 grams (1 2/3 cups) all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Final Dough
  • 476 grams (3 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup cane syrup (or agave syrup)
  • All of the sponge
  • Extra flour for dusting


How to cook Vörtbröd (Swedish "Wort" Bread)

To Make the Scald
  1. Place the rye flour into a large heat proof bowl.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the flour and stir until all of the flour is incorporated.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest overnight, and up to 24 hours.
To Make the Sponge
  1. Warm the beer until it reaches about 90 to 95 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, add 35 grams of the beer. Sprinkle the instant yeast over the beer and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, until creamy.
  3. Add the butter to the pan with the rest of the beer and heat until the butter begins to melt. Remove from the heat and stir until the butter fully melts.
  4. Add half of the beer/butter mixture to the scalded rye and mix with your hands.
  5. Add the all purpose flour, orange zest, spices, and the yeast mixture. Slowly add the rest of the beer mixture and continue to mix with your hands until you have a smooth sponge.
  6. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
Final Dough
  1. Add the flour, salt, and syrup to the sponge, and mix with your hands to incorporate everything. Continue to work the flour into the sponge with your hands. Use a dough scraper to help scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate the ingredients into the center of the dough. This process should take about 3 minutes.
  2. Turn the dough out onto your work surface. Begin gently stretching the dough over itself and then flipping it over on your counter. Repeat this process for about about 5 minutes. The dough should become a little more cohesive.
  3. With floured hands, form the dough into a ball and add it back into the bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and press it into a flat circle, and then form it into a ball again. Place the ball back into the bowl, cover, and let rise again for 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Heat the oven to 480 degrees F with a baking stone on the middle rack, and a steam pan on the lowest rack.
  6. Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out with the smooth side down. Divide the dough with a bench knife into two pieces. Form each piece into a ball, and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
  7. Flatten and roll each piece of dough into an oblong cylinder, trying to keep a uniform width from end to end. Place the dough onto a floured tea towel or couche, cover, and let rise until doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.
  8. Place the loaves onto a parchment lined baking peel and slash the tops widthwise about 4 to 5 times.
  9. Bring two cups of water to a boil and carefully add it to the steam pan (cover the oven window with a dish towel while you are pouring the water to protect it, then remove the towel) and close the oven door.
  10. Slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto the baking stone.
  11. Bake the loaves for 5 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 375 degrees F.
  12. Bake the loaves for 25 to 35 minutes, until the loaves reach an interior temperature of about 200 degrees F.
  13. Wrap the finished loaves in tea towels to cool completely on a wire rack.
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bread, rye

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#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month the Bread Bakers are making Scandinavian Breads.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I was thinking you could enjoy the rest of that bottle of Stout while waiting on the rise but I see it takes quite a bit of it for the recipe. Looks wonderful, as always, Karen.

  2. I am keeping all of this great advice in mind for our rye bread event in May. I have rarely baked with rye flour but I do like adding just a little, as you do, for flavor in other recipes. Your loaves turned out lovely, Karen. Wish I had a slice to toast this morning.

    1. Thanks so much. Rye is definitely a challenge!

  3. Oh, now that's just beautiful. My kind of rye bread! I'll definitely try this one out. I do love rye, but not usually 100% rye. This is perfect.

  4. I have never baked with rye as it is not available here. I am really intrigued by the complexity of flavours here. Cloves, ginger and orange zest.This sounds beautiful. A lot of efforts but really worth it. The bread looks fabulous!

  5. I love this insights/write up about rye bread and flour, preparing me for the May event. As usual Karen you are a master in bread making, prefect bread!

  6. How much does each round loaf weight? please

  7. Karen please correct my mail, it should say weigh instead of weight. sorry and thanks again


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