This week I made a quick Irish Soda Bread for my bread challenge but although it went down really well and disappeared very fast it felt a bit like a cheat. Far to easy for me so I decided to keep experimenting with different flours so I decided on rye. Rye has a bright, sharp flavour and yields a loaf with darkly wholesome good looks. It handles differently and can be hard to work with but the trick is to keep working the dough and not add extra flour to the mixture which only causes you to end up with a dry loaf. Traditionally rye bread uses a sourdough starter, giving it a distinctive taste but this American version takes a short cut using yogurt (or buttermilk) to achieve a similar taste. Continental breakfasts now include a lovely array of breads in various shades, speckled with seeds and grains. My loaf here is plain and toasted, then spread with a little butter. I prefer my bread on the crusty side which is why it is darker.
Rye is hardy grass. It grows well at cool, damp latitudes and is related to barley and to wheat. It has a high protein, gluten and fibre content and because of this it makes a heavy dense loaf and tastes great if left unsliced for a day. If you would like to try something a little more intriguing try this recipe for Russian Rye Bread with Coriander.
300 g (10 oz) wholemeal rye flour
175 g (60 oz) strong white flour
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons fast-action yeast
200 ml (7 fl oz) hand-hot water
150 ml (5 fl oz) natural yogurt (or buttermilk)
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the water and yogurt/ buttermilk. Mix together to form a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface for 5 – 6 minutes or put in the mixer and using a dough hook mix for 5 – 6 minutes. Cover and prove for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Grease a baking sheet or loaf tin.
- Flour your hands and knock back the dough, then shape into a round or loaf shape. Place in the tin and slash down the centre with a sharp knife. cover again and prove until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to Gas mark 6/ 200° C/ 400 ° F.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped – remember to tap the bottom of the loaf as well when you check.