Sourdough ryebread – with a soft delicious crumb.

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For almost 40 years I baked sourdough rye bread using just one recipe, until one day I was so fed up with it’s taste and consistency of the crumb that i completely stopped baking. About 2 years ago I bought the book “The Rye Baker” by Stanley Ginsberg. With that book I started baking new and delicious sourdough rye breads using many of the recipes. I have pictures of the various breads on my Instagram profile @mettes_sourdough if you would like to check them out.

The following recipe I have developed on my own. I use only freshly milled flour.
I have never baked it using store bought flour. The goal for the recipe was a mild tasting sourdough rye bread with a super soft crumb.

Notes about the recipe

This recipe seems complicated the first 3-4 times you bake the bread, but once the various steps down – it really isn’t too bad. Overall, the dough contains a rye sourdough, a rye scald, soaked seeds and a whole wheat sourdough. The bread takes about 36 hrs to bake from start to finish.
The rye sourdough is built up over 4 steps/26 hrs. We go from 10 grams to 700 grams rye sourdough over this time. The rye sourdough is initially wet (hydration 150%) as high hydration favors yeast development; towards the end it becomes rather dry and stiff (74% hydration), as low hydration favors development of lactobacillus and acidification of the dough. Also, a sourdough with a low pH is important for the crumb of the rye bread, as it blocks the “starch attack” or amylase digestion of the starches in the rye flour in the dough.
The scalded rye is saccharified over 3 hours in the oven. The scald contributes to the flavor of the bread with sweetness and enhances the suttle aromas of rye.
Concerning the flour: When I use fine ground flour, I have run the grain twice through my mill.

Overall RecipeWieghtBakers percentageProcent total
Whole grain rye flour92786.842.9
Whole grain wheat flour14113.26,5
Water93287.642.6
Seeds85g8.03.9
Crystal Malt25g2.31.2
Salt17g1.60.8
Coriander6g0.60.3
Syrup50g4.72.3
Total2160100

Each step of the dough is given in separate boxes. Rye sourdough (1), Scald (2), Seed soaker(3) and Stiff whole grain wheat sourdough(4).

Day 1 Morning (1A)WeightBAKERS PERCENTAGE
Rye Sourdough Starter5g16%
Water60g150%
Whole Grain Rye Flour40g100%

Mix together and leave in your kitchen until evening. It should be nice and bubbly before you proceed. Please note that you will not be using it all for the dough tomorrow.

Day 1 evening – you start by mixing ingredients in 4 bowls: A rye sourdough, a scald, and soaker and a wheat sourdough:

Day 1 Evening – Rye sourdough (1B)WeightBAKERS PERCENTAGE
Rye Sourdough84g66%
Water93g113%
Whole Grain Rye Flour93g100%
This Stage of the rye sourdough is quite soft.
Day 1 Evening – Scald (2)WeihgtBAKERS PERCENTAGE
Whole Grain Rye Flour, very coarse ground275g100%
Malt flour25g8.3%
Salt17g5.6%
Boiling Water310g103%
Whole Caraway*2-4 grams1%
Mix the dry ingredients together. Poor the boiling water over and stir until everything is incorporated.

* If you do not like the taste of caraway you can leave it out and instead add ground coriander seeds to the final dough on day 2 – see further down.
For the soaker I use very coarse ground rye – almost 50% of the flour is just chopped/cut rye kernels. Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl, poor in boiling water and stir until all the dry ingredients are wet and the mass has a uniform consistency. Cover the bowl with a tight lid to avoid evaporation and drying out of the surface. Place in the oven at 55 degree C for 3 hours before turning off the oven. I just leave the bowl in the oven overnight.

Day 1 Evening – Seed Soaker (3)WeightBAKERS PERCENTAGE
Whole Buckwheat (or sesame seeds)50g
Yellow Flax Seeds25g
Chia Seeds10g
Water150g176%
Make sure that the seeds do not clump togther in the water

Mix the seeds in a bowl, pour in cold water, mix well to make sure that the seeds do not clump together. Cover and leave at room temperature until next morning.

Day 1 Evening – Stiff Whole Grain Wheat Sourdough (4)WeightBAKERS PERCENTAGE
Whole Grain Wheat Sourdough starter26g33%
Water66g58%
Whole Grain Wheat Flour (fine ground)100g
Mix ingredients together and knead well before placing a lid on the container

These 4 bowls: the sourdoughs, scald and soaker sit overnight while you sleep and next morning you proceed!

Morning day 2 – Rye Sourdough1cOverall BAKERS PERCENTAGE
Rye sourdough – from day 2 evening270g67%
Water (41 degree C)155g74%
Whole Grain Rye Flour (fine ground)247g100
Whole Grain Wheat Flour(fine ground)28g
The rye sourdough is now much stiffer than the one from the evening. Cover and leave for later.

As noted above, I mix the warm water and the sourdough from prevoius night making sure I break up clumps if any, then mix in the flour, cover and set back in a warm place to ferment. Because my kitchen is chilly, I place the sourdough in my proofing box at 29C (84F).

MORNING DAY 2 – Scald – Seed Soaker (2+3)weight
Scald630g
Soaker235g
Pour scald and soaker together and stir until the resulting mixture is uniform in consistency.

Now stir the scald and the soaker together. The scald is quite dry and the soaker wet, by combining them, the moisture in the seed soaker has time to distribute into the flour. Cover and let this mix sit at room temperature until afternoon.

In the afternoon, 8- 10 hours after feeding the rye sourdough, you make the final dough.

Day 2 afternoon – Final DoughWeight
Rye sourdough700g
Stiff Whole Wheat Sourdough192g
Scald/soaker847g
Water95g
Dark Syrup 50g
Whole Grain Rye Flour275g
Koriander*6g

Put the 2 sourdoughs and the scald/soaker in the bowl of your mixer. Add the wet ingredients (water and syrup) and stir together. Add Coriander and run the mixer at the lowest speed and add the fine ground whole grain rye flour in 3-4 batches, in order to minimize the amount of flour that spreads throughout the kitchen. Once you have a good mixture, knead the dough for 4 minutes at low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then the bottom of the bowl and kneed at high speed for 3 minutes. This dough is very sticky and mixing properly is not easy. Dough temperature should not exceed 31 degree Celsius.

Cover the dough and initiate the bulk fermentation 1,5 hours at 31 degree Celsius. The dough should clearly have risen at this time. I use my home made thermostat-controlled proofing box for the bulk fermentation at higher temperatures. I have a home made one as they are quite expensive to buy. My husband Leif wrote a description about how he did it here.

Kneed the dough back to original size.
Divide the dough into 2 small rye bread molds measuring 10x10x 20 cm = 2000ml. Smooth out the surface using wet hands or a wet spatula and sprinkle with seeds, bran or flour as you wish.

Cover with plastic and let the loaves ferment at 29 degree C until they have almost doubled in size.
Meanwhile turn your oven on to 300 degree C (575 F). I the bottom of my oven I have a cast iron pot that I use to create steam during the first 3 minutes of the bake.

When the oven has reached temperature, I carefully dock the breads, before I put them into the oven. For the docking I use a wooden skewer dipped in water. I pierce the dough from top to bottom in 5 places. The dough will deflate a bit, but don’t panic it usually rises again during baking.

Put the loaves into the oven and reduces the temperature to 200C (425F).
As I I put the loaves into the oven, I pour 100 ml boiling water into the cast iron pan at the bottom. This creates A LOT of steam, so please take off your glasses and use some good oven mittens and make sure to close the oven door quickly. Tou should use enough water the fill the oven with steam for 2-3 minutes. After 3 minutes vent the oven briefly and if the water hasn’t evaporated, remove the pan from the bottom of the oven.
After 30 minutes baking I insert my thermometer in the center of the bread and bake until the breads core temperaturereaches 92C (197F).

Knock the breads out of their pans and place on the oven.
Leave oven door agar allowing the oven and the bredas to cool off. Once the temperature of the oven has dropped to 80C (176F) you can remove the loaves from the oven. This step ensures that your bread remains square, instead of shrinking during the cooling phase.

Sourdough rye bread should cool completely and not be touched for 24 hours after leaving the oven, to ensure that the crumb is perfectly set.

After the (terribly) long wait you can cut the bread and enjoy it.

If you bake this bread and you use Instagram, please tag me @mettes_sourdough, so I can se how your bread turned out.

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