I’m so excited about this post I’m writing today. For the longest time I’ve wanted to bake my own bread but it always seemed like such a huge ordeal that I wasn’t ready to take the plunge. Three weeks ago I started a bread starter…and then tanked it. I left it for too long and it grew fur hahaaa. Then a week after that I tried again and yesterday I baked my second batch of bread yay. So, join in on the challenge- bake rye bread with during my domestic experiment.
The origin of rye bread
I popped over to Google to research the origin of rye bread and this is what Wikipedia had to say:
Dark rye bread was considered a staple through the Middle Ages. Many different types of rye grain have come from north-central and western and eastern Europe such as Scandinavia, Finland, Baltic countries, Poland, Russia,the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.
I’m Estonian and we eat more dark bread than light bread and we have so many different varieties to choose from. Baking your own bread is initially quite the undertaking but it’s also very rewarding. The smell of freshly baked bread filling your house is amazing.
After my initial fail at trying to make a bread starter I finally had something semi-decent in the bowl. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you need a fermented starter for your bread. The best option would be to get some from someone who has an established starter already. For instance, during my research I read a blog by a lady whose starter was 15 years old…wow 😀 If you’re like me, living somewhere where no one else bakes bread just make your own. Just remember that apparently it takes at least 4-5 goes at baking before the starter starts producing decent results.
Have a quick peek at my first attempt vs my second attempt:
Note! There are several ways to start a bread starter, go with the one you feel most comfortable with. My starter was literally just flour and water as I didn’t have any of the other ingredients at hand.
300 ml + 200 ml + 200 ml lukewarm water
Day 1: Boil 300 ml water, pour it into a bowl and let it cool until it’s lukewarm. Mix in enough rye flour so that the mixture resembles thick yogurt. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel (not a lid or cling wrap). Leave it in a warm place.
Day 2: Most likely you won’t see any changes yet. Don’t be discouraged. Feed the mixture with 200 ml of lukewarm water and another batch of rye flour (mix until you get the same yogurt-like consistency).
Day 3: You should be able to smell the sourness of the mixture. It’s not ready yet though. Repeat steps from DAY 2.
Day 4: If your house was warm enough you should be left with a starter that’s bubbling and slightly pink. Remove 100 ml – 200 ml into a glass jar for next time and place it in the fridge. The rest you’ll be using for baking bread.
500 ml natural homemade apple juice or kefir
3-4 slices of 100% rye bread
Put the liquid into a bowl and add the sliced bread. Cover with a dish towel and leave overnight.
Day 2: Break up the bread slices. Add 2 tblsp of sugar and 800 g – 900 g of rye flour. Knead into a dough. Cover with a dish towel and let it rise until it has doubled. You’re ready to bake the bread.
BAKING THE BREAD
Where do I start. There are so many different versions for this part. Some require for a complicated oven temperature switch and some just do it on one temperature. With my first batch the temperature was way too high so the bread burned on the top. With my second batch I started off with a high temperature and turned it down later.
So, now you’ve got your bread starter it’s time to bake some bread. The key thing to do at this stage is to take a bit of the starter and put it in a jar or plastic box and into the fridge (it will keep up to two weeks like that, any longer than that you’ll need to add a spoon full of flour and let it air out a bit).
Add 150 g of sugar to the remaining starter, 1 tblsp of salt and enough rye flour to form a dough. Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be thick enough to knead. You’ll want to use two large buttered loaf pans. If you want to shape your own bread the though will have to be much thicker and the texture of the bread will be much more doughy.
Divide the dough between the two loaf pans and this is the stage where you can add things to the mixture. For example, this week I made one regular bread and one with dried figs. Spoiler alert! The fig bread is delicious 😀
Use wet hands to smooth down the top of the bread dough.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and pop the breads in for 15 minutes, lower temperature to 180 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Take the pans out of the oven and let them cool for ten minutes. After that pop them out of the pans and wrap them in dish towels and leave them for an additional two hours to after-bake. DO NOT cut into hot bread. I know it is amazing to have buttered bread whilst it’s still hot but it will stop the baking and you’re left with a doughy bread that’s not as light as it could be.
These were my steps this week. I’m yet to try the regular bread but I can see that my bread has improved from last week. I’m excited to continue with this experiment.
Feel free to comment and ask me any questions about my baking process. I’m no expert but I will try to reply to the best of my ability.