UUntil recently, rye bread was in the category of foods that I liked but preferred to leave to connoisseurs (see also croissants, yogurt and clean fries). I had written recipes in the past, but, in an effort to make them as quick and easy as possible, I had sacrificed some of the dense darkness that had drawn me to rye in the first place. This updated version is long, but stupidly simple – well, much better.
Preperation 15 mins
Ferment 3 days
To prove 27 hours
to cook 3 hours
Costs 12-24 hours
Makes 2 rolls
3g of dried active yeast (i.e. a little more than Â½ teaspoon – see step 2)
100 ml buttermilk
75 g coarse rye flour
For the first proof
500 g coarse rye flour
2 teaspoons of fine salt
250g of rye seeds
1 tablespoon of molasses
200 ml buttermilk
125g of rye seeds
125g of mixed seeds
Oil or butter, to grease the molds
1 A quick note
This is a recipe for 100% rye bread; dark and dense and crumbly, and particularly suitable for open sandwiches in Scandinavian style. If you prefer something lighter, cut with wheat flour and flexible enough for a full sandwich, I recommend checking out Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic Baking Book, which inspired this particular bread, tailored to my taste.
2 The need to pre-ferment
After reading countless recipes for 100% rye breads, I realized that there is no need to resort to pre-fermentation, that is, a dough that you ferment. ahead of time, then you mix it into the mass to get it started. In the absence of a lot of gluten in the flour, the acidity that results from the fermentation process helps strengthen the dough and also improves its flavor.
3 Sourdough or yeast?
I don’t keep sourdough sourdough (since I can’t control myself with large amounts of bread) so I used commercial yeast, but, again, Nilsson’s book provides guidelines on how to make a sourdough version, and there are plenty of other recipes online, if you prefer to go this route. You can also substitute 2g of fast yeast or 6g of fresh yeast.
4 Add the yeast to the buttermilk and rye flour
Start by mixing the yeast in 100ml of buttermilk, then add 75g of coarse rye flour (I buy this one and the rye grains from ScandiKitchen in London, but you can also find them in health food stores. and specialty grocery stores). Regular rye flour will do, in a pinch, as long as you don’t mind having a finer textured bread.
5 Leave to ferment
Once you have a stiff dough, cover (I use a damp kitchen towel) and leave at room temperature for about 72 hours, or until it smells sour, but not unpleasant, and looks a bit bubbly. . It helps to put the mixture in a glass bowl, so that you can see the consistency more easily.
6 Add the flour, salt and rye grains
Transfer the pre-ferment to a large bowl and add the rest of the flour, salt and 250g rye grains. (If you can’t find rye grains, coarse oatmeal, which is available at major supermarkets and health food stores, will work in their place.) Dissolve the molasses in 50 ml of lukewarm water , then mix it with the remaining buttermilk.
7 Mix to combine, then prove
Add the buttermilk mixture to the bowl with about 350 ml more water.
Mix (I find hands are the best) until you have a smooth, porridge-like dough – don’t worry about kneading it, or even overworking it, as there isn’t a lot of gluten to develop here. Cover and let stand 24 hours.
8 Add the rye and seeds, and prove again
Pour 100 ml of boiling water over the remaining 125 g of rye grains, let soak for 30 minutes.
Incorporate the soaked grains in the dough, as well as the mixed seeds.
Transfer to two greased 21cm x 11cm x 7cm loaf tins (i.e. two 2lb antique silver loaf tins).
Cover and leave until slightly lifted (they won’t rise significantly, but should do enough to fill the boxes – mine take about three hours at ordinary temperatures).
9 Cook and let cool
Heat the oven to 170 Â° C (150 Â° C fan) / 325 Â° F / gas 3, then bake the buns for three hours, covering them with foil towards the end if they appear to be too dark.
Let cool completely in the pan, and preferably 12-24 hours, before cutting, as they will be very soft and sticky when taken out of the oven. This bread keeps and freezes well, and makes superlative toast.