In German, this bread would be described as “saftiges” vollkornbrot because it is so moist. This is my favorite whole grain bread though it is not suitable for sandwiches (unless they are open-faced). Filling, rich, and flavorful, this bread is worth the effort and the wait.For the rye chef, you will need:
- 1 1/2 cup medium-ground rye flour
- 2 cups water
- a pinch of yeast
Combine 2/3 cup rye with 1/2 cup flour and the pinch of yeast in a lidded glass or plastic container. Cover tightly and set on the counter. Each day for the next 3 days, mix in 2/3 cup rye flour + 1/2 water. On the fifth day, the chef will not need to be fed and it should be ripe and ready to use. You can store it in the refrigerator but use it within the next three days or you will need to begin feeding it again weekly (with 3/4 cup rye flour + 1/2 cup water).
For the starter, you will need:
- 1 cup ripe rye chef
- 1 cup rye medium-ground rye flour
- 1/2 cup water
Combine ingredients in a glass bowl or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a thick paste forms. Cover tightly, place on the counter, and allow to ferment for about 8 hours (no more than ten hours). It will double in volume and look spongy. For the bread, you will need:
- 2 cups whole rye berries
- 8 cups water (approximately)
- 2 cups sourdough starter
- 8 cups rye flour
- 1 1/2 cups cracked rye (or just place 2 cups of rye berries in a high-powered blender and give it a spin)
- 1/2 cup nuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds (choose your own adventure)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- Pour 6 cups of boiling water over the rye berries and let them soak overnight. Drain and reserve the liquid. Then add enough water (room temp or cool is fine) to the reserved liquid to make 6 cups.
- Measure and combine the starter, rye berries, and 6 cups of reserved water in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is a bit frothy. Add a cup of rye flour, the cracked rye, and nuts/seeds, then stir until fully combined.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest in a room-temperature place (we want the dough to stay at 78 degrees Fahrenheit) for 4-6 hours.
- Divide the dough in half and shape it or simply place it in well-oiled 9″x 5″ x 3″ loaf pans. I like to shape the dough and then place it in a couche or banneton. Proof for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the loaves have domed slightly and increased in volume by at least 1/4.
- Follow Option One or Option Two.
- Option One: Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the loaves have pulled away from the sides of the loaf pans and/or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The bottom of the breads should make a hollow sound when thumped. If they don’t, return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and place on wire racks.
- Option Two: Gently move loaves or rounds from the couche or banneton to floured board or peel and slash tops. Transfer loaves to preheated oven and mist interior with water repeating mist again in three minutes. Bake loaves at 450 degrees for 20 minutes reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Let this bread rest at least 24-36 hours before eating. It will even keep for weeks at room temperature if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
This recipe is posted for my friend, Dany. Congratulations on your new home. Many happy wishes for bread baking and horseback riding adventures to you!