Monday, August 24, 2009

Baker in the Rye

Baking is one of my favorite things to do, but it's even more fun to bake with a friend. You can laugh together at silly mistakes, comfort each other over frustrating failures, challenge each other to try more than you thought you could do, and encourage each other when life is too tough to even get to bake. That's what baking with the Bread Baking Babes is like.

This month we gathered around Görel's virtual kitchen table. She had cookbooks stacked up and scraps of paper with bits of recipes flying around. While we elbowed for room around the table, she explained that she wanted us to bake a Russian Black Bread this month, but was having trouble deciding on a recipe. So, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, she made up her own! And it's a doozy. The ingredients include ground coffee, shallots and old bread. You make a soaker out of that and leave it overnight, along with a sourdough starter. Combine in the morning with lots of rye flour and you get the stickiest dough ever.

When I described the process of making the bread to my neighbor, her eyes widened, possibly with terror. The next day I brought her some to try and she smiled, "Oh, the dump bread!" She reported back that she was pleasantly surprised with how nicely it turned out. I was too. You couldn't pick out any of the mystery ingredients - they just melded together to make a fragrant, moist dark bread.

Be sure to check out how the bread turned out for the other BBB's (blogs listed on the sidebar). And if you'd like to try your hand at this funky bread, bake it before September 7th, blog it, and send a link to Görel, and she'll send you a handsome Baking Buddy badge to proudly display on your website!

Görel's Russian Black Bread


300 g (10.6 oz) Medium rye flour
350 ml (1.5 cup) Water
2 Tbsp Active sourdough culture*


100 g (3.5 oz) Old bread**, toasted
15 g (0.5 oz) Coffee, ground
25 g (0.9 oz) Vegetable, neutral oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) Molasses
2 tsp Caraway seeds
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp Minced schallots
400 ml (1-2/3 cup) Water, hot


300 g (10.6 oz) Medium rye flour
400 g (14.1 oz) High gluten bread flour
20 g (appr. 1 Tbsp) Salt
Yeast -
Fresh: 15 g (0.5 oz) OR
Instant dry: 1.5 tsp
Soaker All of the above
Sourdough All of the above

* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0.5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.

** I used sourdough ciabatta bread, but I guess any old unsweetened bread will do, or any old bread in general.


Mix the ingredients to the sourdough, cover the container with plastic and leave for 12–14 hours at room temperature.


Toast the old bread in a toaster or in the oven. The bread should be browned, but absolutely not blackened. Dice the bread or just tear it in pieces and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of the soaker ingredients except the water. Heat the water to near boiling and pour over the soaker ingredients. Cover and leave for the same duration as the sourdough.

Final dough

Mix the two flours in a separate bowl.

If using fresh yeast: Take a small amount of the soaker liquid and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the yeast mixture OR the instant dry yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt to a mixing bowl.

Add half of the flour mixture and work the dough by hand or in machine. Continue to add about 100 ml or ½ cup of the flour mixture at a time and work until the flour is completely absorbed before you add the next round. The dough shall be firm but still quite sticky. You might not use all the flour, or you might need to add more flour, all depending on the flour used.

Place the dough in an oiled container, cover with plastic and leave for 2–3 hours or until doubled in size.

Shaping and proofing

Drizzle some rye flour on the table top and place the dough on top. If the dough is very sticky, pour just enough rye flour on top of it to make it possible to handle.

Divide the dough in two and shape the parts into oblong loaves. (I placed them on parchment paper to make it possible to just slide the loaves into the oven.) Stretch the surface using both hands to get a tight loaf. Use more rye if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 60 minutes. Don’t over-proof! (Fire up the oven after 30 minutes to have it ready.)


Place an empty metal container in the bottom of the oven. Put in your baking stone or an empty baking sheet. Heat the oven to 225 °C/435 °F.

Put 3–4 ice cubes in the metal container.

Move the loaves to the hot stone or sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Open the oven door to vent out some moist. At the same time, lower the temp. to 200 °C/400 °F. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped underneath, or when the inner temperature has reached appr. 97 °C/207 °F.

Let the loaves cool down before you slice them. Eat with butter and maybe some sharp cheese!


NKP said...

I love your photos! Your bread turned out great, very tasty looking, especially with the big shmear of butter.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Lynn, it's perfect!! Love it, as always :)

Hope you're doing well!!

The Blonde Duck said...

It sounds lovely!

Maria said...

I've never made this kind of bread, I better add it to the list!

Anh said...

You are a fabulous baker! The bread looks flawless!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I love that last photo! The crackly flour just looks lovely!! Great job Lynn!

Homemade Heaven said...

My kingdom for a slice of your black bread with Mascarpone cheese and sour cherry jam!

Karen Baking Soda said...

I love your loaves! They look so authentic and basically very very yummy!
Don't you think Görel should have handed out packages of smoked salmon?

natalia said...

I can't wait to try it ! It looks so nice and appetizing !!!

Melinda said...

Very interesting bread recipe. I have seen a few German recipes that use old bread as you have. I love dark rye bread. Get out the pastrami and sauerkraut. it makes a terrific sandwich.

eatme_delicious said...

Your bread looks delicious Lynn! I'm really intrigued by Russian black bread. I have to go out and get some seeds first though.

CookiePie said...

Oh WOW - that bread looks so AMAZING!! So hearty and delicious, especially that slice slathered with butter. YUM!

Barbara said...

That bread looks divine. I wish you could make it for me. It's still too hot in Florida for me to think about baking bread. Maybe in November!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

You're so right about baking and laughing in the kitchen. That's what I love to do with my every time she visits. And the bread tastes better when it's shared too.

Elle said...

Great bread baking! Sounds like a fantastic recipe...I like that it starts with toasted old bread...great idea.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I love these dark breads. Yours absolutely looks the business.

görel said...

I'm so sorry that I totally forgot about up the smoked salmon delivery ... But you're quite right about this being a strange bread. And even more strange that it actually becomes edible, good even!

Lovely pics!

Madam Chow said...

That last picture in particular is amazing - there's nothing like bread and butter. What a great job!

Engineer Baker said...

Hehe - dump bread is definitely the best way to describe this, isn't it? Can't wait - I'll be baking it this weekend!

Lien said...

I somehow missed this post... and these loaves look so good. Beautiful shot with the butter!

astrid said...

your bread looks lovely. Görel came up with a great recipe. I loved it too!