I am working on a new method of making bread that feels to me like an older one. I really like using this mixture of rye, barley, and unbleached flour. Just a word of warning though, rye flour by itself doesn’t really make the bread you buy in the store. The distinctive flavor people associate with rye bread comes from the addition of caraway seed and the slightly sour flavor that comes from being a sourdough. The rye by itself adds a nutty flavor.
3 cups starter
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup barley flour
3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tsp salt
Semolina or cornmeal for the peel
If you do not have a starter, you can make this recipe by rehydrating 2 tbsp yeast in 3 cups of warm water. Yeast revives best around 110°F (43°C). If you start with colder water than that the yeast will reactivate but it can off-gas some funky flavor. Don’t use water hotter than 135°F (58°C). If you use water and yeast, you will want to add 1/2 cup of rye flour. The starter I use is a sourdough starter and has some rye flour in it already.
I mix these ingredients with my kitchen aid using the dough hook and then put the dough in a crock with a lid that I have and put it in the fridge for at least 24 hours so that the gluten and other anti-nutrient factors breakdown making the bread more nutritious for the family. I learned that from a baker friend in Minnesota who studied at Ballymaloe in Ireland. She also taught me that bread should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 190 degrees to be sure that all the gluten proteins have coagulated properly. We eat a lot of fresh bread, so that’s important to me to make sure that I take those steps even if it isn’t historic practice.
When I want to use it, I dust my peel and then shape a couple of loaves of bread. It’s like making a roll with a sticky dough. Don’t work the dough too much, just tuck the top surface of the dough into the bottom and then place it on the peel. Let it rise for 40 minutes.
This takes forty minutes to rise and bake a loaf of bread using this recipe and this recipe will make about five-six medium size loaves.
20 minutes before I want to bake my bread, I put my baking stone in the oven on one shelf and my broiler pan on the shelf underneath it and preheat it to 450 degrees. Dust the loaf with flour and decorate it with some sort of slashes, then slide the loaves of bread onto the baking stone in the oven and pour a couple of cups of hot water in the broiler pan. You are using steam to create more even heat in the oven.
Shut the oven quickly and bake the loaves for 25-35 minutes depending on how big they are. They are done when the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F, and the crust is quite brown. It will be crisp and chewy, so if you don’t like that you can use a pastry brush to brush some oil or butter on it at this point. Don’t worry though the bread is not dry. You can see in this picture it has a moist chewy texture, which is my favorite.