Rye is one of the most traditional types of bread, but it is becoming increasingly popular. If you are looking for a deli-style, light rye bread, use a mixture of rye flour and standard bread (wheat) flour. This will give your bread a lighter texture and reduce the time it needs to prove. On the other hand, if you want a denser, darker rye bread, use all-rye flour. Since it does not contain as much gluten as wheat flour, you will need to prove dark rye dough for at least eight hours. You will soon find that the flavor of homemade rye bread is worth the effort!
- 500g dark rye flour
- 1/2 tablespoon (10g) salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons (10g) instant yeast
- 4 teaspoons (20ml) molasses or black treacle
- 1 1/2 cups (350ml) cool water
- Olive oil, for kneading
Makes one loaf.
1. Combine the Rye Flour, Salt and Yeast
Combine the rye flour, salt and yeast. Measure out 5 cups (500g) of rye flour and remove a few tablespoons of the flour; set this small amount aside for sprinkling over your work surface. Dump the remaining rye flour into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon (10g) of salt to one side of the bowl and put 3 1/2 teaspoons (10g) of instant yeast in the other side of the bowl. Mix to combine the dry ingredients.
You want to avoid placing the salt right on the yeast, or the salt could kill the yeast.
2. Stir in the Molasses and some of the Cool Water
Measure 1 1/2 cups (350ml) of cool water and pour about 1 cup (240ml) of it into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Add 4 teaspoons of molasses. Use your fingers or a rubber spatula to stir the mixture.
If you don’t have molasses, you can use black treacle instead.
Add more water to make a shaggy dough. You should have about 1/2 cup (120ml) of water set aside. Add a few tablespoons to the dough bowl at a time and mix the dough well in between additions. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl once you have added enough of the water.
You might not need to add all of the water to the dough. Avoid adding so much water that the dough becomes sticky and soggy.
3. Knead the Dough
Spread a little olive oil on your work surface and scoop the shaggy dough onto it. Use the palms of your hands to knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should become smoother (although not as elastic as dough made with white wheat flour).
There are many ways to knead dough. For a basic way to knead dough, use one palm to spread the dough away from you. Fold the dough back to the center and turn it about 45 degrees. Use your palm to push the dough away again. Continue pushing, folding and turning.
4. Shape the Dough into a Ball
Use your hands to shape the dough into a smooth ball. You can turn and tuck the dough until you have a smooth ball with a small seam underneath.
Since you will not bake this bread in a pan, it is important to get the dough into a tight free-form ball.
5. Prove the Dough for at least Eight Hours
Sprinkle the inside of a large, round bowl with rye flour and set the ball of dough into it. If the ball has a seam, you should place that on the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place it in a warm place. Prove the dough for at least eight hours or overnight.
Rye flour takes much longer to prove than wheat flour, but the dough should double in volume.
6. Prepare the Oven and a Steaming Pan
About 30 minutes before your dough has finished proving, turn on the oven to 425°F (220°C). Set a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven while the oven preheats. Once it gets hot, carefully pour enough boiling water to fill the pan half full.
The roasting pan full of water will provide steam in the oven. This gives your rye bread a better crust than what you would get if you baked it in a dry oven.
7. Set the Dough on a Sheet and Slash the Top
Lay a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone mat on a baking sheet. Carefully turn the risen dough out of the bowl and onto the baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make three deep slashes on top of the dough.
You can do straight slashes or crosshatches. The slashes help steam escape from the dough as it bakes.
8. Bake the Dark Rye Bread
Put the bread in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Since you won’t be able to tell whether the bread is done based on its color, you will need to take it out of the oven. Turn the bread over and tap the bottom. Once the bread is cooked, it will sound hollow. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for a few more minutes.
Let the bread cool completely before you slice it.