I am very fond of rye bread. Both light rye, as you get in delis in NY and in French boulangeries, and also the darker Eastern European style of rye bread, deep in flavour with malt and caraway.
I discovered a rather excellent bakery in Westfield at Stratford, Karaway. They produce breads from Russia and it’s surrounding countries, and one that I tried and liked very much was a Lithuanian Scalded Rye.
I saw that Paul Hollywood went to visit them during his recent Bread series, and it gave some tantalising glimpses into how they made it.
Now, could I make something like that? I haven’t made sourdough bread for some time, though I had intended to a while back and so had some rye leaven sitting in the fridge. Time to work it up and get experimenting.
Now one thing that you must know about me is that I am useless at following a recipe to a letter. I am actually much happier with the kind of old fashioned recipe that says “add enough flour to make a soft dough..” or “mix until done..” You have to experience the feel of the dough and work to that feeling, not rely on quantities. I am very content with variables.
So I kicked off by estimating rough quantities based on an overall formula of 350 grams of water to 500 grams of flour.
I fed my rye starter up over a couple of days to end up with 200g of 100% hydration wholegrain rye leaven. In the morning of the bake, I mixed this with 100g of cold water, and 100g of Sharpham Park’s Bakers Blend (a very nice blend of wholewheat and white spelt, that I found in Waitrose. I like it very much so I do hope they don’t run out of it….) and left this sponge sitting at room temperature for 4 hours to start fermenting.
I wanted to use a scald, as that is supposed to help the rye starches to gelatinise and so make a sweeter and lighter bread. So how about 100g of rye flour (I am using Dove Farm Rye, as this is the only easily obtainable Rye around here) and 100g boiling water? oh no! far too stiff, so another 50g of boiling water went in. Plus a tablespoon of caraway seeds – I wanted them in the soaker so they wouldn’t be hard and nasty in my teeth. Much nicer porridge, so leave that for 4 hours alongside the sponge.
I shall need some malt. So 1 tsp each of dark and nutbrown malt powder from The Flour Bin (kindly sent to me as samples) mixed with a little boiling water and a tablespoon of honey. (Next time, maybe a little more malt to see how it affects the flavour. This amount I can’t taste, but it might be helping with the overall flavour anyway). Mix it up and pop on one side.
After the four hours were up, I put the sponge and the scalded rye flour (broken into chunks) in the Kenwood, and mixed them together. I added the malt, 1 and a half teaspoons of salt, and a further 250g of White Bread Flour ( Marriage’s Finest Strong White) . Mixed it (I can’t say kneaded it, it was more like mixing polenta to be honest…) using the bread hook for 4 minutes, then left it for 2 hours, folded twice, left another 2 hours, shaped and popped it into the fridge to rise overnight.
In the morning it was risen but also it had spread out. I should have used a banneton but I only have a round one, and I wanted a more torpedo shaped loaf. So I folded it to tighten it up a bit, and popped it onto a baking sheet covered in cornmeal.
I left it to relax for half an hour, whilst I cranked the oven heat up as far as it would go, and then added a pan of boiling water and the bread. Baked for 25 mins at full heat, then lowered the heat to Gas mk 5 375/190 for another 20 mins until the base was thoroughly cooked through. Out onto a rack and then LEAVE THE ROOM until it is quite cold. Actually, it probably could have done with leaving to the next day, but I am impatient!
It isn’t at all pretty. It suffered from not being proofed properly and so not being shaped properly. It could have done with a smoother tighter skin on it, and possibly with a glaze of starch of some kind. But cut, it has a lovely texture, lighter than you would think. And very delicious.
Do have a go. I am no expert, and this is such an experiment. Let me know how you get on, so we can compare notes…