Wholemeal Rye Bread

I went to Scandi Kitchen the other day to buy fresh yeast for my bread baking – they are one of the few places in central London where you can just walk in and get fresh yeast any day. Walking past the shelf with flours and baking ingredients, my gaze fell onto a pack of shredded rye kernels – another ingredient I have been looking out for, as it is a key ingredient for the heavy, moist rye wholemeal bread so typical of German and north eastern European cuisine.

So, here is my version of this continental staple:

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400g Sourdough Starter
150g shredded rye kernels, soaked overnight and strained
100g sunflower seeds
600g wholemeal rye flour
20g salt
500g water

Measure the starter into a large bowl, then add rye kernels, sunflower seeds, flour and the water. Mix thoroughly and when it starts to come together, work the dough for about 10 minutes (preferably in a bowl, it’s a rather sticky and messy), then add the salt and work for another 10 minutes. You might want to do this in a kneading machine or kitchen mixer if you have one handy. Scrape it out of the ball onto a work surface dusted with more wholemeal rye flour (no white flour shall come near this bread). Form into some kind of ball, adding a bit more flour to the surface if required. This can be a bit tricky, as the dough is really moist and sticky. Put back into the bowl, cover with a cloth and rest for 1h. Roll into a ball again on the dusted work surface. Rest for another hour.

Split the dough into two equal halves, and form two balls. Then roll them into short and fat logs that fit into baking tins. Put them in greased tins and leave to prove for 12h-14h in a cool, but not draughty place. I use the storage under the stairs for this.

Preheat oven to 250C. Bake in the tins for about 5min, then reduce the heat to 220C and bake for another 30min. Turn out of the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

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This bread goes really well with a stronger cheese, smoked fish or gravad lax, or if you like meat, with smoked ham. And maybe some pickled gherkins.

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