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Monday, 25 January 2016

Baking Rye Bread with a Sourdough Starter

I suppose you either love Rye Bread, or you loathe it. I love it! I have to admit that I find a 100% Rye Bread simply too chewy and heavy for my taste and therefore prefer to mix the rye with some other grains. Perusing a number of recipes for Rye Bread has led me to conclude that this must be true for most people as most recipes have the rye mixed with other flours. I bake my own mixture in today's blog, using the sourdough starter discards that I have blogged about before. I'll give tips for alternative raising agents throughout the blog, if you do not have a sourdough starter ready.

The basic recipe is taken from this book, although I have deviated a little from it.

Add 2 cups (500 ml) of rye flour to a mixing bowl.

Add 1 1/4 cup boiling water and a tablespoonful of honey to the flour.

Mix all the ingredients well and roll into a ball. Cover with plastic film and let it ferment over night in a warm dry place. Poke a 2/3 holes in the plastic with a knife to allow the fermentation bacteria, present in the air, to get to the starch. In ancient times this process was used by the French when they did not use sourdough to rise the dough. We will add a raising agent anyway, but not yet.

I did not have time to return to the dough in the morning and it was only about 24 hours later that I could finally attend to it. This is no problem, as the only thing that could happen is that more cultures could develop to enhance the flavour and rise of the bread. When I finally did get back to the kitchen, I added 3 cups (750 ml) of White bread flour to the mix.

I also added a teaspoonful (5 ml) of caraway seed.

Then followed two teaspoons (10 ml) of salt.

Lastly, I added a cup (250 ml) of the 'discarded' sourdough starter, I blogged about before.

Sourdough Starter Option: Everything was mixed together, while I kept a cup of tepid water at hand. I added the water a spoonful at a time until my dough had a firm elastic consistency.
Instant Yeast Option: Add a packet (10 g) of instant yeast.
Fresh Yeast Option: Blend 7 g fresh yeast into 25 ml tepid water and add lastly.

I then covered the dough and left it in a warm dry place to double in size. For me, this meant waiting over night again. If I had started in the morning, I would probably be able to return to the dough  in the afternoon. Instant yeast will have a reaction time of about 1 1/2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, it is time to knock it back and shape it.

Before I even start on the dough, I prepare a bread pan with a non-stick spray and a flour coating to keep the dough from sticking to the pan.

I sprinkle some flour on my work surface, as well as on the dough in an attempt to keep it from sticking to my fingers. I then knock the dough back, kneading it for a good 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

The dough is then divided into two equal lumps.

Roll each of your lumps of dough out to about 0,5 cm.

Fold 1/3 in from the top.

Fold 1/3 in from the bottom.

Fold 1/3 in from one side.

Fold the last 1/3 in from the other side.

Pinch the sides closed.

Smear the two sides that will be touching each other in the pan with olive oil.

Lay the folded dough in the bread pan with the oiled sides touching.

Cover with cling film that has been lightly oiled and leave in a warm dry place to double in size.

Once the sough has risen, lightly oil the top with olive oil.

Make two cuts in each folded half with a knife. Place in a preheated oven at 220°C for about 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 190°C and bake for another 25-30 minutes.

Turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool.

Rye bread is naturally very sticky. Dampen a clean cloth and lay it on top of the hot bread. This will soften the crust.

Enjoy with fresh butter.

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