Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bread Number 53: Radical Dark Rye with Caraway Seeds

Radical for me.

This recipe was adapted, pretty much on the fly, from the River Cottage Bread Handbook, which seems to always produce a dough with a massive flaw that I believe will result in a totally terrible bread. This time I became convinced that the author had  intentionally left out key instructions or ingredients. Evidently, something other than the dough on this one was dark. Anxiety, however, produces good results. (I do believe worrying wards off the worst. Hey, I read my Zen calendar each day, but this is a different perspective.)


100g rye flour
100g water
20g starter

Mix well. In a warm, summer kitchen (probably 75 to 80 degrees), I left this mixture  (covered with plastic) out on the counter for 12.5 hours.

510g water
225g bread flour (That's after the extra flour was added. Add this much from the start.)
340g rye flour
12g salt
7g caraway seeds, plus extra to put on top before baking

This works out to a dough that has a hydration percentage of 90 percent. I had intended to make an 80 or 90 percent rye dough, but it ended up as 65 percent after I added extra bread flour to save the mucky, wet mess. The recipe stated this dough would be "very sticky." That term does not do it justice.

Next to "wet" in the dictionary is a picture of this dough
Mix all ingredients well. The book's directions called for five minutes of kneading, but I have read rye should not be kneaded and kneading a wet mass that was dough-like in name only was problematic. I kneaded, if one could call it that, for two minutes and I spent the extra three minutes trying to get the dough off of my palms and fingers.

I let the dough rise for an hour and 40 minutes. I did one stretch and fold, also difficult due to the lack of cohesiveness of this dough. Again spent three minutes scraping the dough off of my hands and another two washing my hands so that it did not feel like my hands were covered with drying cement. I let the dough rise another for another couple of hours.

Shaping and baking preparation
There's no way to shape a blob. I placed the dough in a large loaf pan instead. First, spray the loaf pan with non-stick spray. I sprinkled more caraway seeds on the top of the dough and covered the pan with plastic. Left out on the counter for on hour.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. I also heated the top of my oblong la cloche to place over the dough while baking. Wait an hour for sufficient time for oven to heat up and for the dough to be ready.

After placing the dough in the oven, immediately reduce the temperature to 450 degrees. Reduce again at 35 minutes to 415 degrees. Total oven time 46 minutes. I kept the loaf pan covered the entire time with the top of the oblong la cloche.

Take the loaf out of the pan and let rest on a rack for two hours.

Startling results
Not only did this bread rise, it looked picture perfect, medium-brown color, and it emitted those fine crackling sounds upon being removed from the oven. A very hearty taste with a much stronger rye flavor than my minority-rye breads. Made me think of my long line of ancestors during their centuries of life in Eastern Europe. I had the first slice with a pickle. This would go with borsht if I liked that. Great with homemade jam (thank you to my friend for bringing over the jar of jam made with community-garden-grown strawberries). Excellent.


  1. Hi Sheryl, with a wet dough such as this have you considered proving the bread in a proving basket or Banneton? Prior to baking invert the proved loaf onto your tray or stone and you have an imprint from the basket on the finished loaf. Keep up the good work.

  2. I have used baskets before, but this bread was so wet, I was anxious that it would stick to even a well-floured basket. That's why I went with the loaf pan. I do like using baskets, though so far I am using a floured kitchen towel as a liner in a regular wicker basket. Are the Bannetons much better than a run-of-the-mill basket?