Chad Robertson’s Rugbrøt

Chad Robertson's Rugbrøt

As you can probably tell from my name(it’s Jorgen in case you’re wondering) I have Scandinavian roots in my family. My great grandparents were immigrants from Norway and while I don’t speak Norwegian nor have I ever been there, I’ve always felt a connection to Norway and the Scandinavian countries in general(I almost always root for the Norwegians when the Olympics come around, which for some reason is much more successful in the winter.). So when I was pointed, by breadsong at the fresh loaf, to this article and formula, written by Chad Robertson, I got excited and knew I had to give it a try.
Chad Robertson's Rugbrøt

I was further interested in trying this bread when I stopped off at Bar Tartine’s new sandwich shop on the way home from work one day. This is where Chad Robertson is doing most of his bread experimentation these days so I was hoping to taste something new and interesting. I went in to try and get one of the Smørrebrød(an open faced danish sandwich) but upon entering I was informed that they had just closed. However, they also informed me that they would be happy to make one for me anyways, on the house, so I could get a taste of what they do there! What great customer service! I knew I would be coming back even before I got to taste the Smørrebrød. The Smørrebrød I ended up getting consisted of eggplant, white bean puree and a whole roasted tomato all served on an extremely delicious and seed-dense slice of rye. It was soooo good. Upon comparing the bread from the Smørrebrød to the formula posted on Food Arts I was fairly certain they were one in the same or at least very similar.

Smørrebrød from Bar Tartine’s Sandwich Shop

I’ve already been doing a bit of rye baking recently(See: Sprouted Vollkornbrot with Seeds) and loving the flavor, heartiness and keeping qualities, however, Chad Robertson’s formula brings some interesting new ideas to the table that I’ve never tried before. For one thing, the loaf is partially hydrated with buttermilk and beer. Such a combination sounded too delicious to resist. His loaf is also extremely seed and rye berry dense. The total seeds and rye berries in the formula add up to over 170% of the flour! I’d certainly never pushed seed content that high in any loaf so it was all the more enticing(I love trying new things). Finally I had never retarded a loaf with a high percentage of rye because of concerns about high levels of sourness but Robertson goes for it. And when in doubt, listen to Robertson.

Chad Robertson's Rugbrøt

This dough was a little bit scary in the beginning stages of the mix. It started out extremely wet. At first I was seriously concerned that there was a misprint in the formula but as I added seeds and rye berries into the dough, and they started to absorb some of the water, the dough came together some and became more manageable. Let me warn you though that it is still an extremely wet dough so don’t panic if you give it a shot. Also, there are no guidelines as to what the dough should feel like at each stage. I would have to rely on the times and temperatures he states in the formula and my own baker’s intuition to get through.

I ended up modifying the process some by switching the retarding to the bulk instead of shaped to accommodate my schedule. I also doubled the sunflower seeds because I didn’t have pumpkin seeds on hand and used my remaining sprouted rye from my Vollkornbrot bake in place of some of the soaked rye berries. In the article Robertson mentions using sprouted grain in several of his breads so I felt like this would be a proper fit.

This loaf is my new favorite rye bread! I love how many seeds there are. It’s almost like you’re eating seeds held together with rye and spelt flour which is quite pleasing actually. Also there is only a slight hint of sourness despite retarding the dough. The only disappointment is that the beer and buttermilk flavors don’t really come through. I think if I was to make this loaf again I would increase these two ingredients. Perhaps even replace all the water with beer.

I ended up taking a few slices of this loaf with me on a rock climbing session in place of energy bars. It worked great! One or two slices gave me plenty of energy and kept me feeling nourished for hours without the sugar rush feeling. I’m guessing that was the effect of all the seeds, whole grains and good carbs slowly digesting. I may have to try adding some dried fruit to the bread though to make it the ultimate climbing snack.

Chad Robertson's Rugbrøt Crumb

Formula – Chad Robertson’s Rugbrøt(with Modifications)

This is my adapted version of Chad’s formula based on the ingredients I had on hand and the equipment I had available. Note: There were some typos and math errors in this formula which have been corrected as of 3/23/2014.

Baker’s % Ingredient 1100g. Loaf
34.40 Buttermilk 80.00
25.80 Dark Beer 60.00
4.30 Honey 10.00
73.11 Whole Spelt Flour 170.00
26.88 Dark Rye Flour 62.50
38.70 Flax Seeds 90.00
19.35 Sesame Seeds 45.00
17.20 Sunflower Seeds 40.00
5.30 Salt 12.50
98.90 Rye Berries(Soaked) 230.00
93.50 Water 217.50
58.06 Liquid Levain 135.00
495.57 Total 1152.50

Process(Hand Mix)

  1. Combine all ingredients except the salt and rye berries in a bowl by stirring with a spoon for 5 minutes. Desired dough temperature: 80F.
  2. Let the dough rest 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the salt and rye berries and mix with a spoon for another 10 minutes. According to Robertson the dough should be like wet concrete at this stage. For me, the dough was quite wet but not as wet as when I first started the mix. It seemed as though the seeds and grains were starting to absorb more of the water, stiffening the dough slightly.
  4. Let the dough ferment for 2 hours at around 80F and then retard the dough for 8-12 hours in the fridge.(This is where I deviated from Robertson’s instructions. He bulks the dough for 3 hours, shapes and then proofs the dough for 2 hours followed by a retard in the fridge overnight. If you follow Robertson’s instructions ignore the next three steps.)
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge and let dough sit out in a warm place for 1 hour.
  6. Use wet hands to shape the dough into a log, roll in pumpernickle flour and place in an oiled pullman pan.
  7. Proof the dough for 2 hours in a warm place. Expect to see a good amount of rise. The dough felt quite aerated when it was ready to go
  8. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 75-90 minutes with steam or a cover on the pullman for the first 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and immediately de-pan. Allow the dough to cool and then wrap in a kitchen towel or paper for 24 hours before slicing. Good luck!

Chad Robertson's Rugbrøt

Submitted to Yeast Spotting

  • Good Evening: A wonderful loaf as usual. I don’t have a pullman loaf pan so am wondering if I can shape it and put it in two regular loaf pan? Have to wait to Sept. to bake any bread. Sigh.
    I would like to invite you to take a peek at my cooking school on face book at: sml International cooking school.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • abreaducation

      My Pullman pan is fairly small at 9″ so I think this bread would work well in one normal loaf pan. I think an 8×4.5″ one would be perfect actually. Give it a shot!

  • frankieolives


  • MC Farine

    I have had this bread on my list for a while! Yours is a tough act to follow: it came out exactly like the rugbrød I remember from Denmark… Congratulations.

    • abreaducation

      MC – Thank you so much! I have been following your amazing blog( in case anyone doesn’t know it) for years and it has consistently inspired me. Thanks for all you do!

      I hope to see your take on this bread soon.

  • Good Morning Jorgen: O.k. September is here so now I am hoping to make bread again! ( The temp. in VA is still in the 90 Fahrenheit!). From the formula above, your liquid levain, isthat the sourdough starter at 100% hydration? Just want to make sure before I start it.
    Thank you.

    • abreaducation

      Yes the starter is at 100% hydration. I also keep it with 25% whole wheat flour and 75% white flour but that is not really necessary. I just feel like a bit of whole wheat flour gives a more complex flavor to the bread.

      I’m happy that you can bake again!


  • newbaker

    hi jorgen!
    nice loaf!
    how i wish i can make one exactly like yours!!
    i tried chads robertsons recipe and my dough didnt rise at all during the proofing time.
    and it turn out dense.
    i do not know what when wrong.
    hope to get some pointers from you!
    my room temp. was around 81- 82.5F.
    i bulk ferment for 2 hours , and final rise at 1.5hrs before putting to the fridge overnight ( about 15hours).
    i left it to warm up from the fridge for 45mins while heating up oven.
    could it be the cracked rye that i used instead of rye berries, as it was not available here.
    also, i didnt use a lid for my pullman.
    hope to hear from you before my second go..

    • abreaducation

      Hi new baker,
      How is your starter working? Does it work well with other breads you make? Is it rising and falling predictably? The starter is my primary concern. If it’s not working right then it could cause problems with the rise.

      I don’t think the cracked rye is the problem. Cracked rye is a good substitute for rye berries if that’s all you have.

      Let me know about the starter and I can try to help you more.


      • Newbaker

        Hi jorgen,
        Thank you for your reply.

        To add on to my last post, my mixture remains wet throughout the whole process, up to, before going into the oven.

        My starter , 1:2 ( kA ww flour) : 2 ( kA bread flour) is rising and tripling predictably. Doubling at about 4-5 hours, and tripling around 7th- 8th hour.
        My kitchen temp is usually 80- 84F, lately.
        Been maintaining it on the counter for 3 months.

        I tried once with CHad robertsons basic country loaf. The crumb doesn’t have regular big holes. Perhaps just 3-4 really big ones in the middle of the slice, with the rest in small and pretty dense.

        Thank you for your help!

  • moise


    I’ve been trying to make this bread a few times and have not been very successful. The loaf comes out very dense and sticky in the middle, like an undercooked cake. I am using medium rye, so i am wondering if that is the culprit. What kind of dark rye flour are you using? Perhaps i should try cutting the amount of water i am adding to the dough?