This month the Bread Baking Babes are meeting in Görels' kitchen. She has combined two recipes to create a Russian bread with a rustic feel and flavour, which will (luckily) leave you on your own if you need to drive a nail into the wall.
The fun starts with setting up the soaker on the evening before baking. The combination of caraway, fennel and shallots smells so delicious, you will want to tuck in right away. (I must remember to use caraway and fennel in some soups this autumn.) The bread itself is a real winner and can be eaten just as is.
I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.
Russian Black Bread
300 g (10.6 oz) medium rye flour
350 ml (1.5 cup) water
2 Tbsp active sourdough culture*
100 g (3.5 oz) old bread, toasted
15 g (0.5 oz) coffee, ground
25 g (0.9 oz) vegetable oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) molasses
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp minced shallots
400 ml (1-2/3 cup) Water, hot
300 g (10.6 oz) medium rye flour
400 g (14.1 oz) high gluten bread flour
20 g (appr. 1 Tbsp) salt
Fresh: 15 g (0.5 oz) or
Instant dry: 1.5 tsp
Soaker: All of the above
Sourdough: All of the above
* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0.5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.
Mix the ingredients to the sourdough, cover the container with plastic and leave for 12–14 hours at room temperature.
Toast the old bread in a toaster or in the oven. The bread should be browned, but absolutely not blackened. Dice the bread or just tear it in pieces and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of the soaker ingredients except the water. Heat the water to near boiling and pour over the soaker ingredients. Cover and leave for the same duration as the sourdough.
Mix the two flours in a separate bowl.
If using fresh yeast: Take a small amount of the soaker liquid and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the yeast mixture OR the instant dry yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt to a mixing bowl.
Add half of the flour mixture and work the dough by hand or in machine. Continue to add about 100 ml or ½ cup of the flour mixture at a time and work until the flour is completely absorbed before you add the next round. The dough shall be firm but still quite sticky. You might not use all the flour, or you might need to add more flour, all depending on the flour used.
Place the dough in an oiled container, cover with plastic and leave for 2–3 hours or until doubled in size.
Shaping and proofing
Drizzle some rye flour on the table top and place the dough on top. If the dough is very sticky, pour just enough rye flour on top of it to make it possible to handle.
Divide the dough in two and shape the parts into oblong loaves. (I placed them on parchment paper to make it possible to just slide the loaves into the oven.) Stretch the surface using both hands to get a tight loaf. Use more rye if the dough is too sticky to handle.
Cover with a tea towel and leave for 60 minutes. Don’t over-proof! (Fire up the oven after 30 minutes to have it ready.)
Place an empty metal container in the bottom of the oven. Put in your baking stone or an empty baking sheet. Heat the oven to 225 °C/435 °F. Put 3–4 ice cubes in the metal container. Move the loaves to the hot stone or sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Open the oven door to vent out some moist. At the same time, lower the temp. to 200 °C/400 °F. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped underneath, or when the inner temperature has reached appr. 97 °C/207 °F. Place on a wire rack to cool.