One of the destinations on our recent Scandinavia/Russia trip last month was Sweden. With stops in six countries over a two-week trip, Stockholm was our main focus for two days after disembarking our cruise ship that took us through the Baltic Sea. This was the first European trip my husband and I have taken in many years that didn’t involve a visit to the Mediterranean so there were many new sights and tastes to experience. As I’ve done in previous trips, I’ll share the highlights here in the coming month. For now, I’ll share one of the tastes that made a big impression during our brief stay in Stockholm.
One of the things I look forward to most on trips to Europe are the breakfasts. There is never a shortage of hearty breads to choose from in the hotel dining room or at the local bakeries. I smile at this statement because growing up I would never have claimed any type of bread to be on top of any to-eat list but my tastes have changed and these days, the heartier the bread, the better. Last year’s trip to Germany brought me as close to bread heaven as I can imagine and Scandinavia was no different.
In Stockholm crisp breads, whole grain loaves and cardamom-infused rolls were abundant. But what stood out to me was a dark rye bread that was served at the table during breakfast, lunch and dinner. A little dense, just mildly sweet with the distinctly deep flavor of rye, I filled up on kavring each chance I got. Each establishment’s version was just a little different–some had fennel seeds, some caraway, some none at all–but they all had that touch of sweetness from one of its characteristic ingredients: molasses.
Thanks to the kind employee at our Stockholm hotel, I learned that yogurt is a key component of kavring (besides molasses). This information helped in my research for recipes, especially since I couldn’t find very many in English. Those I did find used yeast to leaven the dough, which surprised me since I was convinced that the kavring I tasted was a quick bread. After much digging I did find one or two non yeast-based recipes but they didn’t look promising enough to come close to the taste I was after.
Keen to recreate this bread at home I took my handful of recipes (yeast-based ones mainly) and simplified them by combining the common denominators–dark rye flour, yogurt and molasses (black treacle is what is actually used)–and played around with proportions, adding my own spin to [hopefully] achieve that deep flavor I liked so much.
(A note: Swedish kavring is not the same as Norwegian kavring. The latter is a type of crisp bread.)
Since I’m not one to improvise too much on baking recipes I was very pleased to have gotten this right on my first attempt. For something so easy to throw together it has a complexity in taste that one would not expect in a quick bread. My kavring was moist, substantial but not too dense and the taste was spot on. I also added sunflower seeds and fennel seeds to build flavor and texture in my version but what lent the depth of flavor I liked (especially considering this is a quick bread) was the hint of bitterness from the molasses and my addition of unsweetened cocoa powder. Don’t think this is a sweet bread because it’s not. I used proportionately less molasses than called for in the recipes I found and I don’t think cocoa powder is a traditional ingredient but it really works.
Additionally, where most recipes call for all-purpose flour to augment the dark rye flour, I used whole spelt flour in mine, making it 100% whole grain. Kavring is traditionally served with cheese or with smoked salmon or other spreads but I would say that all you need is salted butter on a lightly toasted slice of this bread and you’d need nothing else.
I haven’t been this excited about bread since first discovering Irish Brown Bread so I hope you’ll give it a chance. My husband returns this evening after a weeklong of fishing in Alaska and I’ve got a bottle of wine, some cheese and a loaf of kavring waiting for him. I’d say he’ll be very happy.
Kavring: Swedish Dark Rye Bread
- 1 2/3 cup 400 ml or 230 grams dark rye flour
- 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup 200 ml or 118 grams whole spelt flour (or all purpose flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda (See Note)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 – 2/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 1/3 cup 300 ml plain yogurt (full fat or nonfat)
- 3/4 cup 175 ml molasses (I use Brer Rabbit Full Flavor Molasses)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
- Butter and flour for prepping loaf tin
Preheat your oven to 350℉. Butter a loaf tin and dust with flour.
Mix all the dry ingredients from the rye flour to the sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Add the yogurt and the molasses to the dry ingredients. Stir until combined. This will make a thick dough. If it looks too dry, stir in the milk or cream.
Pour the dough into the loaf tin and bake for 55 – 60 mins or when the bread temperature reaches 190℉. Cool on a wire rack before serving.
- Using the metric measurements for the flours will yield the most consistent results. Using the cup measurements yielded a slightly denser bread.
- Baking Soda (Update 5/23/20): The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons baking soda and it has come to my attention that this amount is not necessary so I’ve reduced it to two teaspoons–it has been tested by a reader with good results.
A wonderful bread! So healthy and flavorful. Perfect for making smörgås (open sandwiches).
Resimleriniz harikadır ! Hangi kamera ile çekirsiniz ?
Thank you! I use a Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm lens. 🙂
What a wonderfully healthy looking bread! I’m definitely going to try it with smoked salmon.
Ah, gorgeous bread! I’m in awe of your ability to recreate travel-inspired recipes. This recipe sounds intriguing; yes, to molasses + sunflower seeds!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Your rye bread looks so good, love the molasses!
Thalia @ butter and brioche says
this definitely takes me back to travelling in sweden! love a good dark rye bread with salmon and dill!
I want to try this as soon as it cools off enough to turn the oven on. I love brown breads. Your trip looked amazing on IG, hope you are all settled in. Probably planning your next big adventure too, huh.
i love trying different breads too –
i have a question though – theres no yeast in the recipe… – does it still rise ok???
Hi, Helen. Yes, it does rise. There are yeast-based kavring recipes but this one is a quick bread. The leavening agent is the baking soda and the molasses and yogurt are the acid components that react with it that make it rise. Hope this helps. 🙂
What a gorgeous bread. I just love when we travel and I’m inspired to recreate some of my favorites back at home. This is a lovely rye bread. Can’t wait to try it!
ahu @ ahueats says
Wow – gorgeous bread. I’ve really gotten into making bread in the last 6 months and dark / rye breads always scared me for some reason, but reading your recipe I didn’t realize I could even do it without a rise! This is gorgeous and I will definitely be trying it.
Oh what a gorgeous bread. I am working through my list of breads to make and rye bread is sort of waiting at the top.
I made this Swedish Bread today my first time to make it and its sooooo delish!!! We live in the Phils. Kavring bread always my favorite bread every time we go back to Stockholm during summer. Thank you very much for this recipe.
Hi! I’m Viola, living in Lagos Nigeria. I made the bread today! Your recipe and directions were super helpful and straight to the point. I too love the bread I take when I’m in Stockholm but never thought I could actually make it. Thanks a lot for sharing. I did have to substitute a fee ingredients though: dark rye flour for buckwheat, molasses for maple syrup and dark chocolate in place of cocoa powder. Wonderful experience.
Viola, I’m so glad you found this recipe and that you liked it. Thanks for the very nice feedback. Yes, it’s so nice to be able to make this bread in our own kitchen, isn’t it? 🙂
Kay Ara says
It wasn’t a pretty looking loaf; the top crust seemed to separate – I think it was because I didn’t sieve the dry ingredients. And next time I will halve the amount of cocoa powder. But a delicious bread nevertheless. Very moreish.
Mary @ Fit and Fed says
Love it! I was looking for a quick rye bread to make and when I saw the fennel and cocoa in this one I knew I had to try it. Just made it tonight. Didn’t have enough molasses so I also used barley malt and coconut sugar (plus a little extra milk). It turned out so nice and light despite all the rye and the spelt: quick bread was a good way to go. And I loved the bitterness with the cocoa (my heaping tablespoon was probably two tablespoons) and the molasses. I imagine if I’d had the full amount of molasses it would have been much more bitter. If I made it again with more molasses I think I’d use sweet molasses, not blackstrap. Thanks for the recipe!
Mary, thanks for the feedback! Glad you liked the kavring!
Carol Kildow says
Lovely flavour, but I couldn’t replicate the texture of the kavring I had in Stockholm. The department store’s (N.K.) bakery downtown makes a kavring like no other I ever had. It’s dense, with a crispy, chewy crust -and that chewiness continues to a lesser degree throughout the loaf. When I baked your kavring, my bread seemed to crumble more than the N.K.’s -although the flavour was wonderful. I’m using homemade “f i l” (Swedish yogurt), which has more liquid than the U.S. yogurts -would this be making my bread more crumbly and cake-like? I really am trying to get it to hold together…and not feel like your taking a bit of cake. Thank you for any suggestions.
Hi, Carol. I’m just now seeing your comment so my apologies for the delay. My kavring is usually dense (with a very thick batter). There’s a small bit of crumbling but I don’t remember it ever being cake-like in texture. I wonder if it is the yogurt doing that. I’ll be more observant when I make this again and share whatever tips I can.
We had this bread in Stockholm this summer, it was fantastic so I was really happy to find this basic recipe. . I found this recipe to be a little to dry so I cut the rye flour by 1/4 and added that amount to the white flour. I also added more milk so the batter was a little closer to what banana bread batter is like. I also used 1/2 cup molasses and 1/4 cup honey. It makes it a sweeter bread but I like it.
Hi, Mary. Your experience was exactly the same as mine–I tasted this bread in Stockholm and couldn’t get enough. I’m glad you found this recipe and made it your own. Thanks for trying it. 🙂
Cleo Huggins says
I baked this for a Swedish friend recovering from surgery. I made 2 loaves so I could try one in advance. Everyone in our house was amazed at how complex and wonderful the flavor was. The texture was perfectly dense. When I delivered the other loaf to my friend, she was ecstatic. She said she loved eating Kavring growing up and hasn’t had any in years. I got the review back from her – it was exactly right, just like she remembered. I found Bob’s Red Mill dark rye and Spelt flour. I also weighed out the flour in grams on a scale. I used Ghirardelli dark unsweetened cocoa powder. My bake time in a convection oven turned out to be 57 minutes. I’m making another 2 loves now :-).
Cleo, my very belated thank you for your nice feedback and how sweet for you to make this for your friend at a time when she needed much comforting. So glad this recipe has worked out for you. 🙂
John Berg says
I absolutely love this recipe. My grandmother came to the U.S. from Sweden as a young woman. This reminds me of the All the times we visited their house. The smells of cardamon, rye bread and coffee take me back. I make this bread on a regular basis and give it as gifts. My favorite way to eat it is toasted beyond what you normally would regular bread.. I believe it brings out even more of the flavors. Loved by everyone. Thank you so much !!
John, thank you so much for leaving this very nice feedback. I’m so glad that you love this recipe and that it connects you to your time with your grandmother. This makes me happy! 🙂