100% Whole Grain Rye Sourdough Bread

Rye flour is clearly different than wheat flour. It has weak gluten that is not capable to form a gluten network and when mixed in a dough develops almost no elasticity. It looks like a viscous paste and is breaking quickly at an attempt to stretch it. Rye flour does not benefit from autolyse either, so forget this technique when baking bread with a high percentage of rye flour.

Kneading a rye dough has no effect because the gluten in rye is not capable to form an elastic dough. Rye dough relies on pentosans to be formed. If you do not like to knead the dough, then this bread is for you.

When baked in a loaf, it gives to the bread a dark crumb and a lower volume should be expected. The crumb is denser, you won't get big alveoli but rather smaller holes. Expect then a loaf with a dense crumb with small holes.

Instead, rye bread is more nutritious than wheat bread because it contains more bran. When ground, it is more difficult to separate the bran from the flour, so the content of bran is much higher in rye flour. But if you use whole grain (dark) rye flour you'll get the entire bran as it was not sifted out. 

Here is the video with the recipe and description for this special rye bread:

Compared to wheat flour, rye flour absorbs much more water and makes the bread last longer.

Rye bread tastes better 24 hours after baking and actually improves with age. It will stay moist inside for a week.

Rye bread is known for its specific aroma and taste and is very popular in North European countries.

A slice of 100% whole grain rye sourdough bread is a perfect match for cheese, pâté, salmon, eggs and I let you discover other ones.

So, are you ready to bake and taste this bread?

Cheese crisps with discarded rye sourdough

If you are like me, baking with sourdough and keeping the sourdough at room temperature you understand that it is very easy to end up with a lot of discarded sourdough in the fridge. I feed my sourdough twice a day, and with every feed, I get ~50g discard. This makes about 100g a day and 700g a week. That is a lot but there is no way that I through away such an incredible ingredient. I simply store it in my fridge, and every week or every other week I do something with it. It can be crackers, pancakes, anything. Sometimes I use it as such for making pizza dough. It is incredibly useful and healthy ingredient so I am happy to use it.
This time I made crisp crackers with it and its secret ingredient is cheese. There is no trace of sourness inside remaining from the sourdough. My kids are crazy about them and it is a great healthy snack that I can sneak into their schoolbag.

This recipe is using a lot of discarded sourdough and this is what I was, in fact, looking for. If you do not have sourdough or you do not have enough, I think you can easily replace the sourdough with half quantity of rye flour and half quantity of water. But for me, the main purpose was to use the discarded sourdough for this recipe. Eggs will help them stay together while butter will help at cooking and make them melt in your mouth.
I simply invented this recipe myself, by trying and adjusting it to fit my taste. This version is the best I achieved so far and I am very happy with it. The composition is extremely easy to make, what is taking a bit more time is cooking them. But with an alarm set at every 2 and a half minutes you can enjoy doing other things in between without worrying that they'll get burned.
What I love the most about them is the taste of the crisp cheese that it is browned just enough to give a lovely texture and taste.

Let's see how to do them.

Romanian Sourdough Sweet Bread (Cozonac cu maia)

I do this sweet bread every year but it is just this winter that I tried the sourdough version. As always, once I try sourdough, I do not come back to yeast. It will be the case for this bread as well. It is true that it takes time to make it but it worth every minute of it. 

The difference is that the crumb is soft and fluffy. You can also break the crumb into straps. It conserves much better than the yeast one. I am simply impressed by it and I'd like to share with you how I've done it.

I published some versions with yeast before on my blog and you can find them here:

The filling that you chose for it is a personal option. I've put inside 3 of the most common ingredients, but you are free to pick only one, 2 or all. Or you can add others that you like.

I do this bread called "Cozonac" only for Christmas and Easter. Sweet bread is not my highest preference, but this one is a tradition that I know since childhood. I am continuing this tradition, especially for my kids, although I am now living in another country. The smell spread in the house when this cake is prepared for Christmas and Easter resides deep in my memories. I recall when my entire family was reunited a few days before Christmas at my grandparents to prepare all the traditional food. Those were special days. They were starting with children carols, when we were singing and knocking on the neighbour doors for pretzels and walnuts. Then it was the day for "cozonaci" and the day of pork meat preparations. Many of these are gone, and some traditions as well. But if I can bring something from those days into my house to keep alive the Christmas spirit I do it, no matter how much work is needed. This sweet bread is one of the few that I can continue, especially during this weird year.

My children love it, myself as well. My favourite version for me is with lokum because it is very sweet. My children also pick them from the slices, but I was doing the same as a child.

This is a sweet bread linked to traditions, memories, aroma and holidays. It is a treat to share with family and friends in joyful moments. It is also a delicious breakfast or dessert.

40% Rye Sourdough Bread

When you bake bread with a high content of rye flour expect to have a darker and denser crumb.  

I baked before another version of rye bread inspired by the same Hamelman's recipe "40% caraway rye". That version is on my blog 40% rye bread with sunflower seeds, posted more than 6 years ago. This time, I went for an improved version with no yeast, based exclusively on rye sourdough. None of these recipes includes caraway as I do not like it very much, but if you like it, please feel free to add it back, as in the original recipe.

Compared to the first recipe, the bread raised much higher and even got me an ear. The reason for this is the use of strong bread flour that had an autolyse before being combined with the rye preferment. This is essential mainly because rye flour has weak gluten that does not behave as the bread flour does. The strong bread flour adds strength to the dough structure and makes the bread to rise more.

This bread in any version is very rich in flavour and I find it outstanding in terms of taste. It has a moist and soft crumb that simply melts into your mouth.

Another advantage of this bread is that the bulk fermentation + final fermentation lasts only 3 ½ hours. On the other side, if you are up to get all the rye flavour, expect to let it cool for minimum 5 hours.

I am happy with this result and for sure I will revisit this recipe again, probably in another version :).

Merry Christmas!

Sour bran bread

Not so long ago I published a post about a Borch sourdough starter. As a coincidence (or not), just a few days after, it came to my ears that I could bake bread with it. In fact, it is obvious right? If you can make borsh out of sourdough starter you can also do the other way around, baking sourdough bread with borsh.

The idea looked fantastic! Why I didn't think of it before? I then took the nice advice of a very creative lady and tried it by myself. But my idea went a bit further. She suggested using the amazing borsh liquid to replace the water as an ingredient to the dough while I was thinking of using the remaining borsh starter that you are supposed to discard.

Let me be more clear what is this sour bran that I am referring to.

So, when you make the borsh you use the liquid. That is the borsh. To get the liquid, you strain the entire mixture and what it remains is a fermented mixture of wheat bran, cornflour and pieces of rye bread. 

This thick mixture is your new borsh starter, called husti in Romanian. But you'll only keep a jar of it for the next batch and the rest you can discard.

My dilemma was how to reuse this amazing thick mixture? Of course, you keep 500ml of wet mixture for the next round of borsh but you still remain with a big quantity. 

Most of the time, what remained, this sandy mixture of bran - corn flour was a good meal for my chickens. But what if, I was to add it in bread dough? Why should I through away such an amazing ingredient?

Romania has a tradition in using it for diets, traditional home medicine and even for beauty treatments. 

I had then to come up with a recipe and try it.

I started then thinking about what this mixture is and how it will affect my dough. First thought was on humidity. First, it needed to be squeezed well well. Even squeezed, but it will add humidity to my dough. So the amount of water added initially in the dough needs to be kept low.

Then, this is bran and cornflour. Bran is a barrier in gluten network development, so it should be added a bit later in the dough. The best moment for this is the lamination phase. Bran is also already hydrated so this is already good. The cornflour, with its grainy structure, has no gluten. The bran as well, it should be added in the dough at a later stage.

This mixture also contains sourdough bacteria. This means that when added in the dough it will increase its population.

With this in mind, I prepared a recipe using white strong wheat flour with hydration of ~70%. The moment of adding the sour bran was for sure no earlier than the lamination phase.

The plan was made, so it only remained to put it in practice.

When mixing the white flour with water, I had the feeling of not adding enough water in the dough. I knew this flour, it is an excellent one that accepts easily very high hydrations of 85%, and I was at only 70%. 

First stretch and fold... hmm very thick dough. But then the lamination phase came. The dough felt not so elastic at this hydration but I managed to stretch it and add the mixture inside. Folded back, it went for a nice rest. 

First coil fold.... hmm barely succeeded. Then, a long period of resting for all the water to be absorbed by the dough. A second coil fold and just then, I felt the difference! The dough was easier to coil fold and the texture was grainy. 

At the shaping step, the dough was behaving so strong like no other. A bit of rest after, and then put it to sleep in the fridge overnight.