In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rye Bread revisited

It was snowing like crazy yesterday -- perfect day to bake!

My sourdough Rye Bread is getti
ng better and better, and I'm continuing to tweak the recipe. This picture shows a hearty loaf that I think even my German relatives in the "Old Country" would approve.

I've tried it both with retarding the dough overnight in the frig, and without. Both produce good results, with retarding bringing out more of the sourdough flavor.
I also made these as dinner rolls recently to serve with Bouillabaise -- very tasty, and easy to freeze the left-over rolls for another snowy winter-soup day...

Gudrun's Rye Bread
1 T active yeast, dissolved in 1 c warm water
2T molasses (approx. 40 g)
1 c rye starter (150g) --mine is fairly liquid
optional: altus (old rye bread, soaked & drained through a sieve)
1 c dark rye flour
3 c+ white flour (350 g) -I used Montana White Whole Wheat, which has 15% gluten content
optional: 1-T additional gluten
1 t salt
Optional flavors: caraway seed, fennel seeds (crushed or ground), minced onion, flax seeds (soaked overnight), sunflower seeds, raisins; and if desired to achieve darker color, instant coffee or cocoa.

Total weight of ingredients:
First 3 items "mostly
liquids" were 400 g before adding flour to make sponge
Final loaf weighed 800 g

9am: Started w/ sponge (after having given the starter a fresh feeding).
9:30am: ad
ded althus, all the flour, ground fennel seed and salt, and started kneading.
9:45am: Let ri
se in warm oven (woodstove is cold because a certain teenager got behind on her firewood duties -ahem!)

11am: Punched down, kneaded (actually stretch and fold), and let rise again.
noon-ish: Punched down, kneaded and formed loaves. Let rise again.
Preheated the oven to 375 w/ pizzastone -- it needs to be thoroghly heated for good crust.

1:20pm Boiled water and placed in pan at bottom of oven.
1:25pm Transferred bread
onto pizzastone.
1:35pm Removed
pan of water. Reduced temp to 350 F.
2pm Bread is done.

I'm afraid that my rye sourdough today may not have been aged very much -- I had accidentally used up all of Gudrun last time
I baked, so a couple of days ago (2?), I took some Pedro sourdough starter (who only eats white flour), and started daily feedings w/ rye and water, and in my oh-so-casual way, I didn't measure anything! The fact that my recipe contains yeast as well was probably its saving grace!

But seriously, although my casual approach to sourdough feeding seems to work fine, below is a more serious approach by HarryGermany from discussion board (link here), where he makes a large quantity of a much thicker ("porridge-consistency") sourdough initially.

Feed your starter with 100 g rye flour and 100 g warm water (approx. 1/2 c each). Stir and keep in a warm place for 24 hours, covered. Repeat for 3 more days, so on the 4th you have about 800g. Save 100 g in frig (feeding weekly w/ 1 T rye flour and water). About 3 days before baking next loaf, take starter out of the frig and feed & build as above.

Harry says: "Rye flour needs acid to be ready for baking. The sourdough has the acid. For a bread with rye flour turn 30-50% of the rye flour sour in a sourdough. A wheat-rye bread 30%, a pure rye bread 50%." (Translation: if you're making pure rye bread, then 50% of the rye should be soured in the sourdough process, whereas for a wheat-rye bread (such as my Gudrun), only 30% needs souring.

Harry's rye-wheat bread 2 loaves of ca 850 g each; hydration 73%

700 g rye-sourdough (made from wholemeal)
400 g rye flour
400 g all-purpose wheat flour
450 g water
25 g salt
1 pouch (7 g) dry yeast or 21 g fresh yeast
(The recipe also works without any added yeast, but the yeast makes it success proof and quickens the prove.)

* Mix all ingredients (rye-sourdough, rye flour, all-purpose wheat flour, water with solved yeast, salt) and knead well (by mixer ca 7 minutes, by hand longer).

* Let the dough rest 20 minutes. (cover and keep warm)

* Knead short by hand. Let the dough rest 5 minutes.

* Shape two loaves, give them surface tension and place them in floured dough rising baskets. Cover with a cloth.
Let the loaves rise in a warm place until volume has doubled. This might require 60-90 minutes (with yeast) or up to 5 hours (no yeast).

* Very carefully place the loaves on a baking sheet with baking paper.

* Start baking with 480°F for 15 minutes. Steam once within the first 3 minutes.
(To steam, use a fresh flower spray, spray hot water against the hot inner walls of the oven. Don't hit the electric lamp!)

* Turn down the heat to 400°F and finish baking in another 50 minutes.


  1. Hi! It's me again. I'm planning on trying some of your bread recipes. Have to get some sourdough starter going first. Meanwhile, I've started an Alaska Food Blogs section on my website, the Susitna Cafe' Chronicles. Do you mind if I link your website to my own? I think your website complements my site. I've been busy baking dog treats to celebrate the start-up of the Iditarod. See "Mush On!" for details. Cheers!

  2. Hello there, Susitna --
    great doggie treats, but it's those biscotti (cocoa-pistachio) that I've gotta try soon, they look so good. Your photos from Europe make me homesick, and meanwhile you're blogging about the Iditarod... what a small world!