A good slice of a dense, chewy, flavourful rye can immediately conjure so many memories. A pastrami sandwich hastily slapped together on a hire car bonnet (using only a Swiss army knife) while driving through the Black Forest, a particularly indulgent dinner of eggs, caviar and champagne or a Croque Monsieur, German Style literally dripping with cheese.
While not that common in Australia, rye bread is the staple of many a European country and brings a huge amount of flavour, along with a massive shelf life and just one or two slices of this dense bread will keep you going for hours!
The recipe below is from the wonderful Eric Ramonda of Banneton Bakery in Brisbane, Australia. Not only is it a rye, but it’s a sourdough, so while the recipe is a little difficult to get your head around if you’re new to baking, you can be assured that the result will be one of the finest examples for this style of bread anywhere – traditional, flavourful and just what a rye bread ought to be.
To baker’s notes, rye bread is best eaten after 24 hours as it may taste a little uncooked if it is still fresh out of the oven. Furthermore, gluten cannot be worked in rye as there is not enough of it (instead, gums known as Pentosans are present in the dough which binds it together). This makes it a good option for those with a low gluten tolerance level (though it is certainly not gluten free).
Also, please note that if you do not already have a starter culture, this recipe will take at least a week.
1000g rye flour
800g rye leaven – see second recipe below
300g rye berries (also known as whole rye grains or kibbled rye), soaked for 24 hours then simmered for 2-3 hours and cooled.
1, Knead all ingredients together for a few minutes – ensure the dough temperature is at 26°C to control the rising (do this by altering the water temperature to equalize the temperature of the flour)
2, Divide equally into bread tins. Don’t be afraid if dough is a very soft and sticky consistency – that’s the way it should be.
3, Proof for around two hours or more (depending on the ambient temperature). If it is a cold day, perhaps pop the tins into the oven at 25 degrees.
4, Bake at 210°C for 75 minutes for a 1kg loaf. Check colour of bread after 45 and if getting too dark lower oven temperature to 200.
Yield: 3 loaves
Levain or Starter Culture Process
– Soak dry currants, sultanas or even fresh apples in water for one to two weeks.
– When some mold starts to appear on the fruit and the smell turns slightly sour, discard the fruit and keep 300ml of water.
– Add 500g of rye flour and knead for few minutes by hand.
– After 24 hours, the dough should have fermented.
– 1st refresh: Keep 300g and add 300g of rye flour with 400ml of water.
– Let it ferment for another day.
– The 2nd fermentation should be quicker.
– 2nd refresh: Discard excess, keep 300g and add more flour as per above.
– At that stage, you have a “chef”.
– This means that your starter is ready to ferment a bigger batch.
– It contains enough yeast to provide adequate fermentation, but the bacteria responsible for the flavor will take several more weeks to develop.
Keeping your starter:
– If you use your Levain every day, then you do not need any particular care.
– Just refresh it at the end of each day and use it the following day.
– If you use it once a week, keep it in a fridge or cold room and refresh it twice before using it
– The more starter you put in your refresh, the quicker it will ferment.
– It might have a very sour flavor the following day.
– You can slow it down by putting a ratio of 1 part starter 4 parts flour.
– You can add 1% salt to it (don’t forget to adjust the final recipe)
– In the final dough, use between 300g to 450g of starter per kilogram of flour in the recipe.
– Taste your starter every day to assess the differences.
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