How to make rye bread – recipe

Until recently, rye bread fell into the category of foods I loved but preferred to leave to the experts (see also croissants, yoghurt and proper chips). I’d written recipes in the past, 그러나, in an effort to make them as quick and easy as possible, I’d sacrificed some of the dense darkness that had attracted me to rye in the first place. This updated version is lengthy, but stupidly simple – and much, much better.

예습 15 분
Ferment 3 일
입증하다 27 시간
3 시간
Cool 12-24 시간
만들다 2 small loaves

For the pre-ferment
3g dried active yeast (즉, just over ½ tsp – see step 2)
100ml buttermilk
75g coarse rye flour

For the first prove
500g coarse rye flour
2 tsp fine salt
250g rye kernels
1 tbsp treacle
200ml buttermilk

To finish
125g rye kernels
125g mixed seeds
Oil or butter
, to grease the tins

This is a recipe for a 100% rye bread; dark and dense and crumbly, and suited especially to Scandi-style open sandwiches. If you’d prefer something lighter that’s cut with wheat flour and pliable enough for a full sandwich, I’d recommend checking out Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic Baking Book, which inspired this particular loaf, tweaked to suit my own taste.

After reading endless recipes for 100% rye breads, I’ve realised there’s no getting around the need for a pre-ferment – that is, a dough that you ferment in advance, then stir into the bulk to get it going. In the absence of much in the way of gluten in the flour, the acidity that results from the fermentation process helps to strengthen the dough, and also improves its flavour.

I don’t keep a sourdough starter (due to being unable to control myself around large amounts of bread), so I’ve used commercial yeast, 그러나, 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 down that route. You can also substitute 2g quick yeast or 6g fresh yeast.

Start by stirring the yeast into 100ml buttermilk, then add 75g coarse rye flour (I buy this and the rye kernels from ScandiKitchen in London, but you can also track them down in health food shops and specialist grocers). Ordinary rye flour will do, at a pinch, so long as you don’t mind a finer-textured loaf.

Once you have a stiff paste, cover (I use a damp tea towel) and leave at room temperature for about 72 시간, or until it smells sour, but not unpleasant, and looks a bit bubbly. It’s helpful to put the mix in a glass bowl, so you can see the consistency more easily.

Transfer the pre-ferment to a large bowl and add the remaining flour, salt and 250g rye kernels. (If you can’t find rye kernels, coarse oatmeal, which is available from larger supermarkets and health food shops, will work in their place.) Dissolve the treacle in 50ml warm water, then stir this into the remaining buttermilk.

Add the buttermilk mix to the bowl with about 350ml more water.

Mix (I find hands are best) until you have a homogeneous, porridge-like dough – don’t worry about kneading, or indeed overworking it, because there’s not much gluten to develop here. Cover and leave for 24 시간.

Pour 100ml boiling water over the remaining 125g rye kernels, leave to soak for 30 의사록.

Stir the soaked kernels into the dough, along with the mixed seeds.

Transfer to two greased 21cm x 11cm x 7cm loaf tins (즉, two 2lb loaf tins in old money).

Cover and leave until slightly risen (they won’t rise significantly, but should do so enough to fill the tins – mine take about three hours at ordinary temperatures).

Heat the oven to 170C (150C 팬)/325F/가스 3, then bake the loaves for three hours, covering them with foil towards the end if they look as if they’re darkening too much.

Leave to cool completely in the tin, and preferably for 12-24 시간, before cutting, because they will be very soft and sticky when fresh out of the oven. This bread keeps and freezes well, and makes superlative toast.

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