Subject:        Rye bred
  Date:         Sat, 7 Feb 98 13:27:41 PST
  From: (Scott Johnson)

How to make Rye Bread.

Rye bread consists of two parts:
  1. a Rye 'sour'
  2. the actual dough of the bread which you bake.
In order to make the dough, you need to have some rye sour on hand. After you've made the bread, you should have some sour left over. You can store this extra sour in your refrigerator and use it whenever you want to make another loaf or two of rye.

To begin the rye bread, combine all the following ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth:

This is called a 'starter'.

Cover this mixture and let it stand in a warm spot for 24 hours.

Now, when you come back the following day to your starter, you are going to begin to develop your rye sour. It is done in three stages, each one 4 to 8 hours long.

Stage One:

Add to the starter: Mix until smooth, and let it stand, covered, in a warm spot, for at least 4 hours. You will know when it is ready when the sour has doubled in volume.

Stage Two:

Add to your sour: Mix until smooth, cover, and place in a warm spot for 4 hours or so. Again, it will be ready when the sour has doubled in volume.

Stage Three:

Add to your sour: You can refrigerate the sour at any one of these stages and allow it to develop overnight. I often begin Stage One at four or five in the evening, and then when it comes time to begin Stage Two, at eight or nine, I simply add the water and flour, mix them in, and put the whole bowl in the refrigerator overnight. The following morning, at eight o'clock, I begin Stage Three. Then the sour is ready to be mixed into dough at noon, and I refrigerate the leftover sour. The following week I then use the leftover sour to start my new batch of sour. This keeps me from having to make a starter every time I want to make rye.

If you need more sour for some reason, you can add extra stages.

Future Batches of Sour:

The next time you want to make rye bread, you can use your leftover sour as a starter. It's good to do this because it saves you the trouble of having to plan too far ahead.

I simply take the leftover sour from the previous week, add one tablespoon of crushed caraway seeds, and one tablespoon of minced onions. I then proceed directly with Stage One.

Storing your sour:

Rye sour should be stored in the refrigerator. I keep mine in a Tupperware container with one end of the lid popped open to give it air. It's best to stir the sour down every three to four days in order to keep a crust from forming. Every ten days or so, throw out half of the sour and stir in 1 part water to 2 cups rye flour, e.g. 1/4 cup warm water+1/2 cup rye flour, or 1/2 cup water+1 cup rye flour.

If you forget to do this and then come back to the sour, only to find that the top is all discolored and it smells rancid, DON'T WORRY. Just skim the top off the rye sour -- this is the rancid part -- and mix in fresh water and flour.

If you aren't planning to do any rye bread baking soon, you can freeze a cup of sour for up to two months.

The Bread

These are your ingredients: (If you wish to make a whole wheat batch, instead of 5 cups white flour, substitute 3 cups wheat flour and 2 cups rye flour.)

In a large bowl:

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the 3 cups sour and stir in.

Mix in 3 cups of the white flour, the salt, and the caraway seeds. Then mix in another cup of the white flour with your hand. The dough should be coming away from the sides of the bowl by now. Turn the dough out onto a surface for kneading.


The surface you knead on should be dusted with flour to keep it from sticking. Rye bread dough should be soft and it will have a tendency to be sticky, so don't mix in too much flour.

The way I knead is to press the dough out with the palms of my hands until it has become large and flat, and then I fold it back up and press it again.

You should knead for 10-15 minutes. You will know when the dough is ready and all "kneaded up" when it develops a springy, elastic consistency, and resists you slightly when you try to press it out.

When you've finished kneading, let the dough sit and rest for 15 minutes or so: long enough to clean your bowls and wash your hands. Then, punch down the lump of dough and shape it into two medium sized loaves. Place your loaves on a baking sheet (you can coat your pan with oil to keep the loaves from sticking, but I prefer to cover the bottoms of my loaves with rye flour. This gives the bottoms a certain taste, and what's more, it keeps the loaves from sticking, if you do it thoroughly). Cover them with a towel and allow them to double in size. This might take 45 minutes to an hour.

When they have doubled in size, slash the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife (about 1cm deep), sprinkle with rye flour and bake them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 mins.

There is an easy way to see whether your loaves are done: knock on the bottom crust. If you hear a hollow sound, the loaf is finished.

NOTE: This is all a lot easier than it sounds.

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