I had been wanting to make a Baltic-style thick rye for quite some time, and had experimented with recipes that required little souring (fermentation) time. But this recipe caught my attention. It requires a natural-yeast starter, an overnight to sour, and then the added kick of some standard yeast. Sounded cool!
The sponge was made over the course of a work-week, mixed 70:30 rye to white flour,and left open for the first 24 hours to catch yeast from the air. It started beautifully. The trick, then, was to keep it going for the entire week, or until about 12 hours before baking time.
The night before cooking, I mixed together the rye and white flour, kibbled rye and water, to make it all happen. Fermented overnight. The following additions were made at cooking time:
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 3 tablespoons dark molasses
- 1/4 cup 6-grain mix, soaked for 15mins in boiling water
Due to the high hydration of the starter & grain mix, the bread dough ended up ‘eating’ a lot of flour (mixed 80:20 rye to white) before it became stiff enough to knead & rise. And rise it did!
And, modified the cooking accordingly:
- Cooked in a cast-iron skillet, 45 minutes @ 400, 15 minutes at 250 (to make sure the interior cooked, and the exterior didn’t burn)
- Steamed at regular intervals, to help develop the crust (see image)
The result? Pretty tasty! A longer second rise, and smaller pans (not a huge skillet) would have helped to create a taller bread, but it’s yummy!
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