In South Spain, where I live, rye is an exotic grain, and rye breads are almost nowhere to be seen. And when they are, they usually resemble bricks rather than loafs. So heavy you can use them as a throwing gun. But we all know that whole rye breads can be light, delicious and full of flavor. Recently, I have discovered that the substitution of some rye grains (cracked or whole) for part of the flour adds an extra dimension of flavor to rye breads. There are many different recipes that include rye grains in the formula. Germany and the Scandinavian countries are experts in this kind of breads. I am particularly enthusiastic about a Danish one, the Rugbrød. It has a perfect balance between flour, cracked grains and seeds.
First, I will depict how to make regular 100% whole rye breads with light crumb and soft texture, and then I will describe how to make a delicious Rugbrød.
This recipe is a simplified version of the 3-stage Detmolder method, and is based on that of Iñaki Echegoyen’s blog panarras.com (in Spanish), with some modifications to fit my schedule and taste. In my opinion, the key for success in this kind of bread is temperature. You have to build your sourdough (SD) and proof the dough at a temperature of 27-28°C (81-82°F), which is higher than what we are used to for making regular breads with wheat flour.
To build the SD starter this is not much of a problem, since you can place it within a glass or plastic jar, and then submerge it in warm water inside a big pot with a tight fitting lid, changing or heating the water as it cools down too much. Or, better yet, you can use a thick polystyrene container, which is a good insulator (see pic).
To ferment the dough, however, you will need a warm place at home: close to a heating source, inside the dishwasher machine right after you take out the clean dishes, in the oven with the light on (but you should check first whether this provides the correct temperature), etc. You can also use a big Tupperware container, and place your dough inside along with a jar filled with very hot water (see pic).
I’ve tried this recipe with both French “Mouline de Coulagne” T130 rye flour and Spanish “El Amasadero” whole rye flour (a coarse flour that is something in between flour and flakes). The latter gives an impressive flavor to the bread, whereas the former yields breads with an amazing light crumb.
This recipe is for a total of 450 gr (about one pound) of flour, and fits nicely in a 18x9x9 cm (7×3.5×3.5-in) bread pan. It can be scaled up at will.
Sourdough (SD) refreshment
50 gr whole rye flour + 50 gr water + 10 gr rye SD, 12 hours at 27-28°C.
SD starter I
125 gr whole rye flour + 125 gr water + 30-40 gr of refreshed SD. 8-9 hours at 27-28°C.
SD starter II
Take 30-40 gr of the SD starter I and store it in the fridge for future breads. To the remaining SD add again 125 gr of rye flour and 125 gr of water. Ferment for 2 hours at 27-28°C. It should have the texture of a chocolate mousse.
Oil a bread pan or line it with parchment paper.
Add to the SD starter II 200 gr of whole rye flour, 200 gr of water, 25 gr of cane molasses and 9-10 gr of salt. You can also add walnuts, dried fruits, etc. Mix well with the help of a spoon; it is a very thick batter. It helps to have at hand a bowl filled with water to wet the spoon and your fingers. Transfer the dough to the pan, it should fill half of it. Use the back of a wetted spoon to press the dough down gently and make the surface even. Dust with white flour.
There is no need for bulk fermentation. Place the pan in a warm place for 1.5-2h as explained above. It should reach the top of the pan.
The oven should be as hot as possible (230-250°C or 450-480°F). Place the pan inside, steam the oven and bake for 1 hour. Depending on the oven, you may want to turn off the top coil during the first 30 min to avoid burning your bread. When done, a thermometer placed inside the bread should read ~ 97-98ºC (207ºF). Take the bread out of the pan, and allow it to cool. Wrap it in a cotton cloth and leave it to ‘mature’ for at least 48h. If you slice it before that time, you may find that the crumb is too wet and sticks to the knife.
These breads are made with T130 rye flour:
The recipe is almost the same as explained above, with some modifications:
1) Substitute cracked and scalded rye kernels for part of the flour. In our case we will use 360 gr of whole rye flour and 90 gr of cracked rye.
2) 90 gr of seeds are included in the final dough. I use a commercial mixture of sunflower, brown and golden flax, millet, sesame and poppy seeds.
3) Decrease the amount of water in the final dough to compensate for that of the scalded mixture.
4) Part of the salt is added to the scalded grains/seeds.
To crack the rye I use a home mill with the hopper set a position ‘3 o’clock’ (see arrow), but you can use a regular coffee grinder or a similar device. Place in a jar 90 gr of cracked rye, 90 gr of your favorite seeds, 3-4 gr of salt and add 225 gr of boiling water. Mix well, close and allow the water to absorb for at least 2 hours. I usually prepare it after I build the preferment II.
Preferment I: mix 120 gr of whole rye flour, 120 gr water and 30-40 gr of refreshed SD. 8-9 hours at 27-28°C.
Preferment II: Take 60 gr of the SD starter I and store it in the fridge for future breads. To the remaining SD add 100 gr of rye flour and 100 gr of water. Ferment for 2 hours at 27-28°C.
Mix preferment II with the scalded grains/seeds, 160 gr of whole rye flour, 110 gr of water, 25 gr of cane molasses and 7 gr of salt (remember that the scalded mix already has some salt). Proofing and baking is the same as above.