I know what you’re probably thinking – didn’t she already post a recipe for rye bread? What is her deal? What’s up with all the rye bread? Isn’t variety the spice of life?

Indeed it is but when I get a look like this from my Swede:

My toes curl up and my heart sighs and I roll up my sleeves and get ready to churn out some rye bread. I wonder if this is why all recipes make multiple loafs – Martin eats almost an entire loaf when it is fresh out of the oven. The other loaf, thankfully, is more slowly consumed over the course of the week.

I still recall the moment I first realized that I, as well, like rye bread. It was Christmas dinner at Martin’s house and I lifted a piece of dark, buttered, warm-from-the-oven bread to my lips. As I bit in, my eyes grew as wide as saucers. The bread was soft and slightly sweet and om-freaking-gracious delicious. I had to have it. I would never commit to the Atkins diet but had I been, I would have sworn off it forever at that point.

I asked Martin’s mom what her recipe was and she showed me … the mix. It had a giant Swedish flag slapped on the front which is how Martin’s mom found it to begin with. While walking down the aisle of her grocery store, she saw the flash of distinctive blue and yellow and promptly bought out the entire supply.

I haven’t ever been able to find this elusive mix, so I have scoured the internet looking for a recipe. And I finally found one that closely matches the bread of my memories. The color isn’t as dark but that soft, sweet flavor is still there. It is delicious and will turn any Swede to putty in your hands and he will agree to things he normally wouldn’t, like a nice dinner or buying you a bouquet of flowers. Like any good ruler, use your power wisely.

Swedish Rye Bread

Prep time: 40 minutes, 6 hours waiting

2-½ tsp. dry active yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees F)
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
⅓ cup molasses
1 tbsp. shortening
¾ tbsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds
½ tsp. anise seeds
Orange zest from 1 small orange
1-½ cups hot water
3 cup unbleached AP flour, separated
2 cups rye flour

Special equipment: Stand mixer

1- Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Let stand 5 – 10 minutes, until foamy.

2- In mixer bowl of a stand mixer, combine brown sugar, molasses, shortening, salt, caraway seed, anise seed and orange zest.

3- Pour hot water over ingredients and let sit until water cools to 110 – 115 degrees F.

4- Place in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup of AP flour and mix until smooth.

5- Stir yeast and add to mixing bowl, beating until smooth.

6- Add rye flour, beating until smooth.

7- Switch to dough hook and slowly add AP flour in ¼ cup increments, up to 2 cups. When dough is tacky and smooth, turn onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

8- Knead dough a little, if necessary, before placing dough in a deep, greased bowl. Turn to coat and cover with saran wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size.

9- Punch dough down, pull edges to center and turn dough over in bowl. Let rise until doubled.

10- Turn dough out to lightly floured surface and grease a baking sheet. Divide dough into two portions and shape into balls.

11- Cover and let rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

12- Remove to greased baking sheet and cover again with a non-terry cloth towel, and allow dough to rise until doubled.

13- Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

14- Bake bread for approx. 25 – 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

15- Remove from oven and cool on racks.

Servings: two 8″ round loaves

Sometimes, I wonder how something so simple can bring a man to his knees. Then I stop and thank my lucky stars for the occasional piece of leverage.