An excellent beginners recipe for a sourdough rye bread
Item Grams %
Medium Rye flour 200 100
(or Light Rye 997)
Salt 6 3
Starter/Leaven* 200 100
water (warm) 170 85
* You will need to have made your starter (also sometimes referred to as a "leaven" (Eng) or "levain" (Fr)) prior to beginning this recipe. You can find the recipe for a Rye Starter here. If you want to read more about starters and levains you can see more at the following links:
Place flour into a large bowl, add the salt and rub it through. Weigh in the starter and the water then using your hand, or a beater if using a mixer, blend the ingredients together until a smooth firm paste is reached similar to “plasticine”.
Decide now if you want to add dried fruits such as figs raisins or walnuts, or perhaps caraway seeds.
Typically fruits or nuts are added at 20% of the flour weight and seeds or spices at 2% of the flour weight.
Preparing for baking
Most rye breads “prove” in a birchwood basket (Click here to buy) to help keep their shape. A bowl will do, but does not allow the warm air to reach as much of the loaf. Line the basket or bowl with a tea towel and dust well with flour, making sure the fabric is well covered to prevent the dough from sticking. Get this ready first.
Scatter a handful of the rye flour onto your work surface and scoop out the dough from the bowl in one large piece. Now roll it around in the flour to form a nice round shape but try not to push the dry flour into the dough too much. When fully covered place the dough ball into the prepared basket cover with plastic and place in a warm part of the kitchen.
It will be happier at a warmer temperature of about 25°C. If you can achieve this, then the product should be fully proved in about 3 hours. If cooler it will take longer so in a typical kitchen at about 20°C you will need to allow another hour.
Pre heat your oven while the bread is proving – you will need it to be as hot as your oven can reasonably achieve – about 250°C - and make sure it is at the preset temperature before baking.
If you have one, place a baking stone or thick baking tray into the oven when you turn it on. Then place the dough straight onto the hot surface when you put it into the oven. This will seal the base and in theory all the activity will come out at the top, creating that nice rustic appearance so typical of a good rye bread.
As soon as you set the dough onto the hot base close the door and reduce the temperature to about 210°C and bake for one hour, reducing the time slightly for a lighter crust.
The finished product will mature with age and the flavours will start to mingle as the bread gets older. If you are nervous or worried about it being fully baked with the lighter crust and you have a cook's thermometer, the bread will be fully cooked when the centre of the loaf reaches 96°C. After this time the crust will simply be getting darker and tastier.
A baking tin will produce a perfectly good shape if you are don't want to experiment with the basket but this sized dough will need to go into a small loaf tin or it is likely to flow too much before baking!
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