I was asked more than once to publish a sourdough rye bread recipe for the “Bread baking for Beginners” post series. I hesitated as a rye bread is not so easy to handle as a wheat one and to know when a pure sourdough loaf is ready to bake needs some experience. But with the Rye bread without sourdough we had already the right starting point to step into the world of sticky rye dough – practising this bread before switching to sourdough is highly advisable.
To rise the bread with only sourdough in a reliable way, the sourdough has to be very active. If it is not so active or was in the fridge for a longer period, making a refreshment to activate the sourdough yeast the day before is a must. The rye sourdough is then build in two stages to archive a well balance flavour and a high activity. The two stages make use of the fact that lactobacteria and yeast differ in their temperature optima. The first, cooler and firmer stage is perfect for the growth of bacteria , which produce lactic acid and acetic acid. The warm and soft stage then favours the yeasts which are needed for a good oven spring.
The recipe, which I created for this post contains 60% of rye and 40% of wheat flour which makes the dough sticky but still good to handle. It is a classical german “Roggenmischbrot” (literally mixed rye bread), with a slight sour and hearty flavour. Different bread spices which are sprinkled into the bread form add a spicy note to its taste.
Some days ago I had to sent some sourdough per mail. That is easy when the sourdough is mixed with a lot of flour to form dry crumbs – the German name for this is “Krümmelsauer” while it is called “Gerstl” in Austria. The crumbs should be as dry and fine as possible. This reduce the amount of water and put the microorganisms to hibernation. In this state there is nearly no fermentation going on.
Reactivation is easy as well. Mixing the “Krümmelsauer” with water and waiting until the first bubbles are showing. And as I realised that I never showed this kind of sourdough conservation on the blog, I made a double batch. One halve I sent to Berlin, the other one I kept for three days on the counter to simulate the enviroment during mailing. Then I mixed the sourdough crumbles with water and as my sourdough is quite active I saw the first bubbles after one hours already. I let the mixture ferment for another five hours, then I used it to start a sourdough. And this sourdough doubled its volume easily overnight.
The oldest method to rise a bread is using sourdough. As soon as water is mixed with flour, yeasts and lacto bacteria which can be found in the flour starts to proliferate. Soon the first bubbles can be observed which is a sign of the microorganism activity. The microfauna starts to stabilize. In Spelt and Wheat sourdough the dominating species are the same, while in rye sourdough other bacteria species are predominant. The is the reason why rye sourdough is more sour than a wheat or spelt sourdough.
Having a active sourdough like the sweet starter is a good thing. But there is always the risk of loosing. It could starve while you are on a longer vacation or because you have no time for bread baking. Or (worst case scenario) some mould could start to grow on your precious sourdough. And that’s when a backup can be handy.
When I grow my sweet starter in December, I decided to test two different methods for storing sourdough: Freezing and drying. And after three months I tested which method provides a faster success when I reactivating. I mixed both the frozen and the dried starter with fresh flour and water and left them on the counter. After 20 hours the dried starter was clearly back to life as I could judge from the increase of volume. A feeding with flour and water showed that it could already triple its volume after 4 hours on 30°C, like it would before freezing.
The frozen starter was barely alive after the same time, only some tiny bubbles suggest that it was not completely dead. But that does not surprise me so much, because during the freezing process the water in the cells of the microorganisms starts to form crystals, which damage the cells. During drying on the other hand the cells form spores to survive the unpleasant situation and spring back to life as soon as it comes in contact with water and flour.
How to start baking bread? I remember that I started with searching for a recipe and just simple following the instruction. I can’t tell you anymore which recipe it was (it was before I started blogging) but I knew that it was far away from being perfect. But I already cached the bread baking virus.
Every now and then readers and friends asked me which of my recipes they should use for their first bread. I send Friends and colleagues, which I can provide with sourdough, directly to my favourite wheat and rye bread, which has an easy to handle dough. But giving sourdough to readers is not as easy and so I developed another recipe.
It is made with Pâte Fermentée as preferment. It is a preferment which did not need a lot of care. You mix it, you put it in the fridge, you wait for at least twelve hours. No fussing about the right temperature or the need of using it while on its peak.
The dough is easy to handle and instead of scoring the loaf, you can press it down with the handle of a wooden spoon, which creates the niece pattern on the loaf on top of the pile. But it is a bread which is great for experienced bakers as well. I used it with great success for making loaves decorated with roses for the 90. birthday of my boyfriends grandmother.
And at the end it tastes great, as well. It has a soft, fluffy crumb under a crisp crust. It has a mild aroma with complex flavour profile due to the preferment.
Dived the dough in 80g . Roll into a strand of about 70 cm. Divide the strand into 4 parts. Now lay them cross-wise, so that the strands are inwoven(1). Now take the lower strand and lay it over the higher one (2) and repeat this once more in the other direction (3). Now fold the free ends into the middle (4) & (5) and turn the roll (6)
When I’m baking for my colleagues like for our christmas party today, I always try to find special forms for the rolls that fits to the season. This time I got inspired from a recipe from the TV show WDR Servicezeit and bake little Santa Claus Hats. The dough for this rolls is the same like the Spelt Rye Swirls and I let them ferment and bake them like described in the recipe.
The little Hats are easy to make. You have to roll the dough into a ribbon with 1 cm thickness and 12 cm width. Cut the ribbon into triangles with a 7cm width base (1). Now stretch the base and fold it over to form a 1.5 cm width brim (2). Then take the tip and fold it down, too (3). Wet the brim with some water (4) and sprinkle with sesame. To avoid sprinkling all over the hat, use a dough scrapper to shield the rest of the hat(5). For the pompon form a little dough ball with 1 cm diameter, dip on side in sesame and press it on the tip of the hat.
Divide the dough into pieces of 85g each. Roll them into strands of about 45 cm (1). Now form with 2/3 of the strand loop, while the other 1/3 of the strand remains free(2). Pull the free strand through the loop (3), then twist the loop (4) and tuck the free end into the remaining opening of the loop (5).