This recipe for sourdough rye bread is a simple variation of the yeasted rye bread recipe, made by substituting a refreshed levain starter with no added yeast for the sponge. See the Simple Sourdough Bread recipe below for making the sourdough starter, then begin this recipe by refreshing your starter.
- Small mixing bowl, for refreshing starter
- Large mixing bowl (stainless steel, glass, Pyrex, or ceramic)
- Wooden spoon or wire whisk
- Large wooden cutting board
- Standard bread loaf pan
- 2-quart dough-rising bucket, optional
- 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup storage levain
- 1⁄2 cup rye flour, preferably stone-ground
- 1⁄2 cup unbleached bread flour
- 1 cup unchlorinated water, cool
- 2 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1-1⁄4 teaspoons sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, soaked (for at least 4 hours) and drained well
- 1⁄4 cup milk or buttermilk
Refresh Your Starter: About 8 to 12 hours before you want to mix up your bread dough, refresh the starter. In a small mixing bowl, stir all the starter ingredients together with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk to make a smooth batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
Mixing and Kneading the Dough: Scrape the refreshed levain into a large mixing bowl. Add the bread ingredients to the starter, stirring until the dough forms a ball. Knead the dough for a total of about 10 minutes, letting yourself and the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes in the middle. The dough should be smooth and a little tacky, but not too sticky.
Fermenting the Dough: Put the dough into your dough-rising bucket and put the lid on, or put it back in the mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment at room temperature until it doubles, about 8 hours or overnight.
Shaping and Proofing the Dough: Form the dough into a loaf to fit the bread pan. Lightly grease the loaf pan, and place the shaped dough in it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let proof for 60 to 90 minutes; it might not double in volume, but it should just about fill the pan, and the top will begin forming a dome shape.
Baking the Bread: Preheat your oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes; it should look evenly colored and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack for a few minutes, then tip the bread out onto the rack. Cool for at least 90 minutes before slicing.Excerpted with permission from Victoria Redhed Miller’s book From No-Knead to Sourdough, published by New Society Publishers.
- Use spring water if possible; bottled is fine. Avoid chlorinated water and distilled water.
- Use organic, stone-ground flour for activating your starter.
- Rye flour is added on the first day because it ferments quickly and has more enzymes and minerals than wheat flour, helping to get a new culture off to a strong start.
- I recommend putting a lid on your starter container. The yeast and bacteria are already in there; there’s no need to use cheesecloth or anything else as a revolving door. Trust me on this.
- The ingredient measurements aren’t critical. It’s easier, when doing this for the first time, to have the parameters defined, but don’t worry about it being exact. The main thing is to keep all the flour in the mix well hydrated.
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