This was my first attempt at baking a 100% wholegrain rye bread and I am quite happy with the result. Rye dough has a reputation for being difficult to handle as it is so sticky. However, this bread is baked in a tin, which allowed me to circumvent the challenge of shaping a sticky mess into a loaf. Sticky it was, but the baked bread turned out beautifully moist and surprisingly light. This is a variation of a recipe I found on a German internet forum for sourdough enthusiasts, der-sauerteig.com. In addition to a vast collection of tried-and-tested recipes this forum provides the answer even to the most left-field sourdough-related question or problem. Most of the forum is in German, but contributions in English are welcome and there are a few English-speaking users. If you are into baking sourdough bread then this really is an invaluable resource.
The addition of a ‘soaker’ – wholemeal flour soaked in water before baking – makes this bread particularly moist and it will easily keep fresh for a week. Pure sourdough rye, especially if baked with wholemeal flour, does not rise to the heady heights of wheat and yeast bread and is less spectacular visually. However, this loaf’s flavour demonstrates that there is some truth in this old platitude: looks don’t count for everything.
For the sourdough (I explain how to make your own sourdough starter HERE)
20 g sourdough starter
180 g wholemeal rye flour
190 g warm water
Leave in a warm place (26 degrees are ideal) for 16 hours
For the soaker:
155 g wholemeal rye flour or bruised rye grains
155 g water
12 g salt
Leave to stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours
For the bread dough:
Sourdough from the recipe above
Soaker from above
290 g wholegrain rye flour
10 g honey
160 g natural yoghurt at room temperature
5 g fresh yeast (optional)
Mix all ingredients for the bread dough and knead/mix for about 5 minutes. The dough should be wet and sticky and have the consistency of porridge. Leave the dough to rest for 50 minutes in a warm place then knead/mix again briefly. Pour the dough into a large, greased bread tin (it should not be more than half full) and smooth the top with wet hands. Cover the tin with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for up to an hour or until doubled in size. Bake in the preheated oven for about 60 minutes, starting with 240 degrees and slowly decreasing the temperature to about 180. If you like your bread crusty you can bake it without the tin for the last 20 minutes in the oven. Rye bread should mature for about a day before it is cut.