The first rye bread I tasted was those square sliced ones you see in a vacuum packed bag with an astonishing expiry date of another whole year. The funny thing is that as I went through the list of ingredients I couldn’t really see anything peculiar, all sounded normal and non-artificial with no non-pronounceable preservatives. Maybe it was just the vacuum packing? Although I finished the pack in the end, I didn’t particularly enjoy eating it and didn’t fancy trying rye bread again.
Then I came across a freshly baked loaf made with rye flour in a bakery one day, while my stomach was violently rumbling away. Without a moment’s doubt I bought the loaf eagerly awaiting my return home.
Although the loaf was tasty, I could tell immediately that it wasn’t done with 100% rye flour, obviously strong white flour forming the majority of the ingredients. If you read through the lines of some of my previous posts you will realise that I am trying to avoid white processed flour whenever possible, especially if I am preparing the food myself and for myself at home.
Determined to give rye flour one last shot, I came across this recipe from How to Bake written by Paul Hollywood. If you have seen the British Bake Off series you’ll know who I’m talking about. So here’s the verdict..
Not only it was amazingly delicious, low in gluten, 100% rye and wholegrain, addictive yet satiating, my children also ate it! When I baked the bread the second time round it was gone in one sitting and made me regret why I hadn’t made another loaf – we had a big family gathering.
Some nutritional rye facts if you are interested..
Originated in Turkey, rye was cultivated long ago in Poland, Germany, Austria, Ukraine and Russia. Rye is a non-hybrid winter crop as it withstands cold and poor soil better than other grains. It is a member of the wheat family and is closely related to barely. The flour is lower in gluten than wheat, higher in fibre and richer in nutrients. It is also high in insoluble fibre, which gives a feeling of satiety, is a good source of magnesium and is much better tolerated by diabetics than standard wheat. Just be sure to use fresh flour and where possible refrigerated, as the rancid flour tends to turn from sweet to slightly bitter.
Rye Bread – Makes 1 large-ish loaf
Note: The rye dough needs patience with the rising and proving process. I personally prepare it in the afternoon, leave it to rise until night, shape it and prove overnight. This way I know I have freshly baked bread in the morning, with very little effort. The overnight proving gives this bread a unique and pleasant dense, earthy, and nutty flavour. Serve it in thin slices with your desired topping. I also like it with hearty soups, spread with butter – totally delicious.
- 500 g rye flour, plus extra for dusting
- 9 g salt
- 7 g yeast
- 1 tablespoon treacle
- 1 tablespoon malt extract
- 350 ml cool water
- olive oil for kneading
Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the treacle and malt extract if using and three-quarters of the water, and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want a dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
Coat the work surface with olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft skin. You will realise that from then on, no matter how much you knead the dough it will not become elastic and stretchy like conventional doughs made with strong white flour. This is due rye’s low gluten content.
Alternatively, if you have a mixture with a dough hook, place it there, add a drizzle of olive oil, and let the machine do the work!
Put the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size – about 4 hours or up to 8 hours, or overnight if you prepared the dough at night.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold it repeatedly in on itself until the air is knocked out. Form the dough into a smooth, round cob (see below) by turning it on the surface and tucking the edges underneath until the top is smooth and tight. Generously dust the inside of a large, round proving basket with rye flour. Put the dough into it, placing the smooth top side down. If you don’t have a proving basket, use a round deep colander or sieve, line with a clean kitchen towel, dust generously with rye flour and tip the dough into it, smooth top side down.
Leave to prove for 2-3 hours or overnight as I usually do; the dough will double in size eventually but will take considerably longer than wheat-flour breads.
When you know you are ready to bake your bread, heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up. Line a baking tray with parchment or silicone paper. Heat the oven for at least 15 minutes, especially if you’re like me and worry about wasting too much electricity!
When you loaf is risen, invert it carefully onto the prepared tray. The basket or tea towel should have left a pattern on the surface of the dough. Slash a deep crosshatch pattern on the top with a sharp knife. Pour hot water into the roasting tray and place the tray with the dough into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. To test, tap the base of the loaf – it should sound hollow. If not, return to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
How to shape a cob – as described by Paul Hollywood
Cob is the term used to describe a domed round loaf. If you are making bread for the first time, this is a good shape to start with.
To form a cob, first tip out your risen dough onto a very lightly floured surface, then knock out the air with your hands. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle then roll it into an oblong. Turn the dough so that the longer edge is running away from you and flatten it slightly.
Now roll the tow ends in towards the centre so you end with a chunky squarish shape. Turn the dough over on your work surface, so that the join is underneath.
To shape the dough into a smooth, domed cob, you now need to use both hands. with your palms turned upwards, position your hands on each side and slightly underneath the dough. Move your hands round the cob, tucking the dough neatly underneath, to create a smooth, taut top and a rough underside. Avoid adding any extra flour during shaping if you possibly can.
The smooth, round cob is now ready to be transferred to a baking sheet / basket for the proving stage.
Please don’t be put off by the long list of instructions, they are just there to help and trust me it is extremely satisfying in the end. Read through them all and you’ll realise they are fairly simple procedures to follow – honestly!